Episode 686: Low Expectations

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Zombie Cliche Lookout: Unexpected Returns

When someone leaves the group in the midst of a zombie outbreak, the odds of them coming back are pretty slim. Let’s not waste too much time discussing the obvious (there are zombies out there, and they are really, really dangerous), and just focus on a couple of other potential issues with someone coming back.

First of all, we need to look at why they’re leaving in the first place. In most stories, this is because the group needs something, and it’s important enough for someone to risk their lives to try to get. Other times, the person leaving has some personal bugaboo to deal with. In still others, they leave the group, voluntarily or otherwise, to redeem themselves from past indiscretions. In all of these cases, the person who leaves is going to have to take more chances than a cautious person would in order to fulfill their reason for departing in the first place.

The other thing to keep in mind is that the remaining survivors are likely going to be barricaded in somewhere, making coming and going a difficult process. If they happen to have zombies surrounding their hideout at the time, getting the person back inside safely is going to be really tough.

About This Episode:

Tara is making some assumptions here. After all, it could be a zombie or a hostile survivor knocking at the door.

Discussion Question: Reclaiming Lost Knowledge

BrickVoid suggested today’s discussion question in the previous comic, and I thought it was a really interesting one. It doesn’t really relate to today’s episode, but that’s okay. I’d be worried that I’d lose track of it if I kept it too long. Here’s what he asked:

“I have a Discussion Question of sorts, and it’s a fairly good one: Let’s say your community of people in a zombie apocalypse has evolved to the point where you’re after specialized jobs for particular purposes. Your initial band of survivors that founded this community was good, but lacks in key elements needed to progress to more specialized industry that you’ll need for surviving the zombie apocalypse. You also need a way to relearn lost skills and knowledge. How would you go about planning acquisitions for what you lack?”

32 thoughts on “Episode 686: Low Expectations”

  1. Typo alerts, first one is in the parentheses () in the first paragraph: “there are zombie out there” zombie–>zombies 😀

    Discussion Question suggest–>suggested 😉

    • Fixed both, thanks!

  2. Regarding zombies at the door, would they even be capable of making sounds that are like someone knocking on a door? Since most zombies shamble, they’d probably be more likely to make a pushing or shoving motion against the door, which would hardly sound like knocking to someone inside! 😀

    With the hostile survivor situation, why would they knock on a door? If they’re hostile, they might simply charge the door with a heavy implement in hopes of smashing it open, grabbing whatever they can see inside the door, and running away quickly before the noise reaches nearby zombies. 😀

    Hostile survivors in a zombie apocalypse would be, to me at least, desperate. Most survivors who’ve been in a zombie apocalypse for any length of time would likely have learned enough to know that if someone seems safe inside of a building, the last thing they’d want to do is intentionally jeopardize their safety and that of the person inside as well.

    That being said, what other motives could hostile survivors have for jeopardizing someone’s safety? 😀

    • Zombies wouldn’t knock, per se, but they could hit the door in a way that might be construed as knocking.

      Hostile living people, however, might want to get inside without destroying the door, especially if they plan to spend any time there and want to enjoy the safe afforded by a working door.

  3. I’m working on (it’s a loose term at this point in time though) a short story that takes place in the wake of a devastating virus. Think The Stand, but focusing on one man. The guy is intelligent, but knows nothing about survival. Once he finishes off all the junk food at the local convenience store, he’s pretty much screwed. Except that he’s smart enough to realize that it’s not a sustainable plan and he keeps trying to find books on farming.

    I used to work at a library, and I have read through a couple of books on growing vegetable gardens in urban environments, and those were the inspiration for me. Personally, I don’t know how to grow food, but I know it can be done and I would think to look for books on how to do so. They were good enough for society this far, so why not when it really matters? And bonus: books don’t require electricity or internet.

    • That sounds really interesting. It seems like most survivors in stories have at least some applicable skills (unless they’re the useless people the real heroes are keeping alive). Best of luck on the story!

      • Hey Deryck. Suggest you read “Alas Babylon” by Pat Frank. Its about post nuclear war life in a small Florida town. Used to be required reading in middle school but I think the collapse of the USSR took it out of fashion. There is an interesting sub-plot in it that relates to the towns spinster librarian and how the library becomes the most popular hangout in town after the bomb drops because people are looking for information on farming, animal husbandry, etc.

        • One of my favorite survival books. It’s quite a good story, and the sexual/racial politics of the time it was written make it even more interesting. Can’t recommend it highly enough.

      • Thanks for the tip, Nick! That sounds like a good read for sure.

  4. That teddy bear on the set of drawers is so cute! I wonder … Is he a spy in disguise? 😀

    If so, is he working for the zombies, or perhaps for someone with far more malicious intent? 😉

    • NannyCam.

  5. Some skills your group can learn either through books or mentorship or good ole trial and error. Of course video from DVD and video should not be discounted if your group has power and can find the necessary material.
    Recruiting people would be necessary but determining the what skills they have could prove interesting. What do you do when you find you have 50 skilled plumbers from the plumbers convention? How do you determine how many you really need and what to do with the rest of them?
    Similarly what do you do with people who have useless skills. Website developers are not going to be in big demand. Also with people whose skills are not very appropriate. FBI agents are highly trained and intelligent people but what do you do with an FBI agent during a zed collapse?
    Lastly how do you change people’s skills. Say you start with a few latrines dug out back to handle human waste for your group of 20. Your group now numbers 200 and those plumbers have the toilets working. Anyone know how to work a waste water treatment plant?

    • “Website developers are not going to be in big demand.”

      Well that just makes me sad.

      • Well if the group is big enough that mobile phones everyone will likely have on hand will be useful as communication devices, a website developer could come in handy for coding accessible communication protocols for the devices so they could all work properly together. All you’d need is a communication tower that runs off generated power when needed, and going to nearby locations within range would be a lot easier and more fruitful if there happens to be choices that need to be made. Let’s say they find a supermarket with lots of supplies but a lot of the food reserves have been depleted, making cooking ingredients harder to get. If they have mobile communications working they can easily work out what will be compatible with their current supplies.

        If you have an oversupply of website developers hopefully they’ll have other skills that might come in handy! 😉 If you are a website developer you’ll know plenty about computers, which could come in handy if they raid a shopping center and have space to bring back technology that might be useful. 😉

    • As for the plumbers, if they can get 20 toilets working, what are the chances they could also get 20 bidets working on recycled water supplies? One thing that’s going to be in short supply is toilet paper, gotta have some way to get that shit off your ass before it gets hard and crusty! 😉

  6. I think about this a lot. For some reason I’m just wired to look at the ultimate goal in any EOTW situation as a re-boot of our civilization and getting things back on track. Here’s how I see it. Its not crucial that people with highly specialized skills survive. Almost everything is written down somewhere. Either in textbooks or technical manuals or Operational Procedures. Governmental and Industrial standards require that almost every process be documented somewhere. A lot of it will be on computers of course but it doesn’t take a lot of power to get a computer network up and running so that’s a manageable problem. To use Rats example. Maybe I don’t have a wastewater treatment engineer, but I have a few plumbers and a former Website developer who can understand the local wastewater plants technical and operational manual. Together these guys can sit down and get the plant running again. Maybe not at peak efficiency at first. Maybe you’ll be stuck at a technology level that equates to the 1950s for a few years, But people will learn and systems will improve. Remember that only 66years elapsed between the Wright brothers first flight and man stepping foot on the moon. And there were NO rocket scientists in 1903.

    • Oh man, excellent post, Nick.

    • That is a good point about everything being written down and people can learn it which will most likely get you killed. Here’s why first you have to understand the manuals. Its not that they are written in a foreign language its that they are written in a technical language. Once you have mastered the language of a book you will then need to find it. Surprise not everyone has the books you need ready for you to go and get. Don’t believe me? We will stick with wastewater plants. Go out know and find a book on how to maintain one without the internet helping you. You might find the manuals for the plant your community is using at the plant but that is if they had the updated manuals, they were not destroyed during the collapse and if you are even going to use that wastewater plant since it was designed for a city of 500,000 and you have 500 survivors. Okay you found the books, understand them and learned the skills that normally take wastewater plant operators a year of training under trained operators before they are allowed to operate on their own. Where are you going to get the highly specialized chemicals and other supplies needed to keep it running?

      Point is in the zed apocalypse shown on TV and Movies and Books there are millions of details about surviving that are just glossed over in the worst way. To really survive you only need one thing and that is Gunny Highway’s Motto.

      No I am not going to tell you what that is go use the internet or one of them books.

  7. My two cents that it’s not Sam at the door…

    • You never know.

      • Indeed… I never know LOL… Could it be the first time I guess right?

  8. About today’s question, I myself have an idea I’ll use in my own comic… Search the knowledge in books! I bet people we’ll find a lot of stuff in books like learning how to grow vegetables, hunting,…

    • As pretty much everybody said in this thread… LOL

      • Hah. I will say you can’t get everything from book. Also, not all books are accurate.

        • Simple stuff like growing vegetable, preparing irrigation systems like the Egyptians,… Things like that. Obviously, running a power plant with 5 survivors escaped from jail won’t be found in a book…

        • Im sorry. Everyone who works in a factory or complex with complex chemical and or mechanical procedures and is intimately familiar with the manuals created for their operation and maintenance please raise you hand. (my hand is up by the way) Anybody else????

  9. Having worked at a couple of factories among other jobs I can say there were not a lot of manuals laying around. But we are not talking about people with the skills already. We are talking about people trying to learn skills they never thought they would need.
    Let’s make it simple. There is a Haynes car manual for every car ever made. You can usually find them at Autozones, O’Reilly’s, Napa and other auto parts stores along with lots of auto parts and tools. Can you replace the entire ignition system in your car following the directions in the Haynes manual?

    • In a word…Yes. That’s pretty much how I learned how to work on cars back when I was younger. I bought the Chiltons manual for the car I had and just followed the steps it laid out to what I needed to repair. They go so far as to take you step by step though the engine removal and rebuild. I just replaced the timing chains on my car (which is a pretty major project) by following the manual. Although the Haynes manuals are a pretty poor example of the point you are trying to make because they are specifically designed for people with minimal experience.

  10. Trial and error.

    The good old fashioned system people resorted to to learn new skills back before they had books or written language. Someone had to think ‘I wonder if there is a way to launch this spear farther…or use a smaller spear.” and the bow was invented. “I wonder, If I take this plant and replant it will it grow? What can I do to make it keep growing?” and farming was invented. “Dang! No one was here to see me take down that sabertoothed tiger, I wonder if there is a way to capture the moment and share it with other tribes” and the selfie was created.

    Totally true story.

    The point is that people, when removed from distractions have an amazing imagination. Especially when the options are make it work or suffer the consiquences.

    If you need a skill and no one is around to train you, you learn by trial and error until you get it right…or get eaten by sabertooth cats…

    • That’s what I said the first time. It is more commonly called the Theory of Evolution.

      • O.o

        Actually …I was just saying that if you need to learn something you just have to break down and try it out. You would un doubtedly fail…a lot…like really a lot…but you learn from each failure and eventually get better at X skill.

        Trial and Error.

        Like :if I keep making spammy posts eventually them will become good…and simpler and easier to read…


        • Forgot mai enotes… c: