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Who Goes in the Fallout Shelter?
Let's play a game of cold equations.
A middle school teacher on Long Island has been pulled from the classroom after handing out a controversial assignment to fifth-grade health students.
What was the assignment? Asking students to decide who they would allow into a hypothetical bomb shelter.
The assignment read:
An unknown enemy has launched a nuclear strike on Long Island. Because of advanced warning technology, you are aware that you have 20 minutes to get yourself into a fall-out shelter located in your neighborhood. When you arrive, 10 other people wanting to get in as well greet you. The shelter has enough supplies for you and six other people to survive the 3 months that you must remain inside, before you can come out safely. Your group must decide, unanimously, who will be brought in and who will be left out??
1. A 16 year old pregnant girl.
2. A police officer with multiple charges of brutality pending against him, he has his gun.
3. A 38 year old retired prostitute.
4. A 75 old year old priest.
5. A 35 year old sterile female doctor.
6. and 7. — A husband and wife. They refuse to be separated. He is a lawyer. She is an alcoholic.
8. A 31 year old homosexual architect.
9. A 50 year old musician, previously addicted to cocaine.
10. A 28 year old drifter with no apparent skills.
Personally, I don’t see what all the fuss is about, other than the grammar being far below what I’d expect from someone teaching my kids. I guess it might be a bit advanced for a middle school assignment, but it’s a good thought exercise.
Being your resident nuclear war survival expert, I thought it would be fun to work through this assignment here on Unprepared. I’d love to hear your answers as well, and I’ve opened comments to everyone. Remember, there are no wrong answers because no one is real.
10 people, only 6 can live. Who are we picking? Let’s start with the ones I’m leaving to the mercy of an angry God.
Six people. Three stressful months in a cramped fallout shelter. That is a recipe for madness, rape, and maybe even murder. We only have 20 minutes to decide, so it’s imperative that we quickly eliminate anyone that could cause the entire group to fail.
First, the cop’s gotta go. There are a lot of good cops, but even more shitty ones on a power trip. Given that this one is already facing multiple charges of brutality, he’s a big “thanks but no thanks.”
Who cares about the gun? In a fallout shelter, a gun is a liability. One shot and everyone in the shelter will be deaf. Who knows where the bullet will ricochet. Once we leave the shelter, the gun might be useful, in which case I’ll pick it up off the cop’s body—assuming the gun hasn’t melted into a puddle.
The couple is also out, mainly because of the wife’s alcoholism. The last thing we need in the shelter is someone going through DTs. Otherwise, I’m sure they’re a perfectly lovely couple.
Who Definitely Goes in the Shelter
The doctor is a must. The fact that she’s sterile is probably actually a benefit in the shelter.
I also think the priest goes in. What sort of priest he is isn’t specified, so we’ll assume a Roman Catholic priest. Here’s why he goes in:
He should be celibate, either due to religious vows or his age, which reduces sexual drama.
He will hopefully be a calming influence on the group.
His religious skills should help give the group hope.
He’s used to hearing confessions and offering council, so he can serve as a sounding board for the group.
My only concerns would be any health conditions he may have, and the off chance that he’s one of those pervert priests, but overall I think his pros outweigh his cons.
We’ve filled two slots and only four remain. Here’s who’s left:
16 year old pregnant girl
38 year old retired prostitute
31 year old homosexual architect
50 year old musician, previously addicted to cocaine
28 year old drifter with no apparent skills
So one more has to die.
This is where it gets tricky because no one is immediately useful, except maybe the musician, who can at least entertain everyone. Or possibly annoy everyone if they aren’t good. I don’t see the previous cocaine addiction being an issue unless we’ve happened upon Pablo Escobar’s fallout shelter.
The drifter was almost an immediate elimination because a) we don’t want an unstable drifter and b) no apparent skills. But then I thought: who is more vulnerable than a lone drifter? Surely if they’ve been at it long enough, they’ve built up some sort of survival skills.
What about the homosexual architect? I doubt we’ll have much need for an architect, and the only other thing we have to consider him on is his homosexuality. What type of gay is he? If he’s the campy, dramatic type, that might be a problem, but we don’t have much to go on here. At least, he might not be a threat to the women.
Then there’s the 38-year-old retired prostitute. Again, we don’t have much to go on. Is she a drug-addicted street walker or more like Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman? In any case, she’s retired, so presumably she’s cleaned up her life. She probably knows how to carry herself and might have some useful street smarts. Actually, we don’t even know if it’s a her, we’re just assuming.
Finally, we have the 16-year-old pregnant girl. We don’t know how far along she is, but in any case she’s the biggest liability of the lot. Let’s say she gives birth in the shelter. We have a doctor, but even if the birth is perfect, it’s going to be messy—and I doubt we have a laundry in the shelter. Then there will be a baby to feed, and the mother will need more calories, which means less food for everyone else.
On paper, this is an easy decision, but there’s more to consider. The 16-year-old has the most life ahead of her. That baby may be the entire future of the human race.
There’s actually a very simple solution to the dilemma: I refuse to go into the shelter. Everyone else lives.
But let’s be honest, that’s a cop-out. Did I really write this entire post to position myself as the selfless hero dying to save others? That seems entirely too congratulatory.
And, again, none of these people are real. This is purely a thought exercise.
So let’s kick out the girl. Not only is the pregnancy a ticking time bomb that threatens the survival of the entire group, but teenagers are annoying and immature at the best of times—I should know, I was the most annoying and immature one I’ve ever met.
Assuming we have our genders correct, that leaves the group with three men and three women not including yours truly. Pregnancy risk is minimal, we don’t have any obvious hotheads, and some of the group even has obvious useful skills.
Who Would You Pick?
Now that I feel thoroughly icky for murdering a pregnant mother, it’s your turn.
Who would you pick for the fallout shelter of your dreams? Again, there are no wrong answers.