The Uniter presents: Team Apocalypse

You may be useless, but you still have time to make useful friends

The apocalypse is a time to face facts.

When the vast army of people that make our modern lives livable - from grocery store clerks to doctors to Manitoba Hydro employees - not only cease to do their jobs, but also join the minions of the walking undead, wanting nothing but to devour your flesh, that computer science degree on your wall will begin to look even more inadequate than usual.

Many of us spend so much time interacting with technology that depends on electricity that we’d be helpless if the grid failed. In the any number of situations that could lead to full societal collapse, it will be the people with practical skills who survive and thrive.

Here at The Uniter, we know that journalists are little better than zombie fodder and will probably be among the first to be sacrificed.

So we’ve assembled a team of survivors with the necessary knowledge and skills, put their numbers into our quick dial and done everything in our power to enter our names in their good books.

We suggest you do the same.

This is Team Apocalypse.

Rob Schmidt

The Marksman

Rob has been shooting guns since he was a boy, racking up hundreds of hours behind the sights. He prefers not to disclose the number of firearms that he owns, saying only that he has more than he can use at one time.

He is a three-time Manitoban provincial champion in the International Practical Shooting Confederation (IPSC). The keyword there is practical. Also champion.

The competition involves hitting targets while moving through a set course. And if that’s not enough, Rob also manufactures his own ammunition from recycled brass casings and sometimes uses lead bullets moulded by hand.

Whether you’re worried about marauding looters, alien invaders or zombies, you’ll be glad to have him on your side.

Laura Reeves

The Botanist

Equipped with a B.Sc. in botany and nearly 20 years working as a botanist for the Tall Grass Prairie Preserve, Laura knows flora and then some. Add to that her work as a wildlife survival teacher at Room to Grow, a sustainable and healthy living farm in Boissevain, Man., and Laura is someone you really want to know if you’ll be spending any amount of time in the wilderness.

Her skills go way beyond identifying wild plants and knowing which are good to eat, though. She knows their medicinal properties, as well as which are good for making rope or even bows and arrows.

She’s taken several courses in tracking and wilderness awareness and survival, too, which means she can probably find some delicious animals to eat when chewing on leaves and twigs gets old.

Gundars Reinfelds

The Handyman

These days it seems like anyone who knows which way to turn a screwdriver gets the handyman label.

Gundars is handy on a whole other level.

This is a man who repairs complex scientific equipment for the University of Winnipeg chemistry department for a living, using whatever materials he can find to get the job done. He’s used parts from an old computer keyboard to solve plumbing problems. He built his wife a Nordic ski exercise machine from an old printer and a washing machine.

This guy is like MacGyver on steroids.

You won’t be surprised to learn he also does all the mechanical work on his own cars and snowmobiles, which means Gundars will be nice to have around when your zombie-proof bus breaks down at an inopportune moment.

Matt Jenkins

The Welder

After getting into blacksmithing as a summer job at Lower Fort Garry during university, Matt found it addictive. He now works during the day as an engineer doing design for a local custom metal manufacturer, yet still finds time to hit the forge and even teaches a blacksmithing course at Cloverdale Farm, just outside of Winnipeg.

The forge is a good venue for Matt to make whatever anyone wants. “You get me some steel wool, I could knit you a Volkswagen,” he says.

As the source of all tools, the blacksmith is in perfect position to supply apocalypse survival hopefuls with gear they require.

And while better blacksmithing tools will obviously give you a better result, Matt says that rudimentary metal work can happen with a rock and a campfire. Cha-ching.

Jesse Matas

The Multi-Purpose Minstrel

It’s impossible to know absolutely every skill that the apocalypse will require, so a good, ol’ fashioned jack-of-all-trades won’t go amiss on the team.

Matas knows his way around a chain saw, which makes him doubly useful as a log cabin builder and a melee warrior in a bind. He’s currently learning to build a log cabin without the use of any power tools, just to increase the degree of his badassery.

He also has a softer side - as part of folk trio Crooked Brothers, Matas has honed his skills as a multi-instrumentalist and songwriter.

Let’s face it: things might get a little tense at the end of the world, and some relaxing folk music could help avert a (second) meltdown.

This minstrel can also climb trees, speak several languages and fry up a mean pickerel, just in case.

Published in Volume 66, Number 21 of The Uniter (March 1, 2012)

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