You are teaching nine sections of comp classes at four universities, have no health insurance or retirement savings, and barely make ends meet. What happens if conditions suddenly become even more unstable? Enrollment dips, a department merges, or your tiny liberal arts college gets bought by a multinational conglomerate and replaces your course with a semester-long Kahoot quiz? It’s essential to be prepared as you’re just one paycheck away from needing to scavenge for existence in the wild. Here are some survival tips, should you be so unfortunate.
1. Pack for Emergencies
Always have a “go-bag” ready with the bare necessities: some bottled water, a book of matches, and a Tupperware container filled with the stale Panera bagels left in the faculty lounge from the professional development session you didn’t attend.
2. Leave Plans with a Friend
Make sure your friends know what forgotten, grown-over forest patch you’ll call home. If you have no friends because you spend ninety hours a week grading papers, then inform one of the seven people you share an office with instead.
3. Treat Your Injuries
As you have no real outdoor skills outside of binge-watching episodes of Survivor, make sure you tend to the inevitable wounds you will receive as promptly as possible. Use your belt as a makeshift tourniquet, any extra napkins for bandages, and disinfect any cuts with the Tide stain-remover pen you use clean off your shirt while scarfing down chicken tikka masala leftovers between classes.
4. Find or Build Shelter
The good news is you’ll no longer have to pay $3,000 a month for a studio apartment with cracked linoleum flooring. The bad news is you’re going to need some mathematic or engineering skills to build a reliable shelter to live in. Given you went to grad school for visual poetics, you should probably just try to nab a toddler’s playhouse from somebody’s backyard while they’re asleep.
5. Identify Clean Water
Let’s be honest, at this point, clean water is probably the least of your concerns.
6. Practice Fire Safety
If you packed matches in your “go-bag,” this will be easy. Just find some wood and light it on fire. Try not to sleep too close to the flames. If you didn’t pack any matches, you’re probably screwed.
7. Be Cautious with Wildlife
You will eventually come face to face with some animal as you now live in their world. Just react to them as you would a student wearing a Punisher American flag T-shirt—don’t look them directly in the eye, and don’t ask any open-ended questions about how to detect misinformation online.
8. Maintain a Positive Attitude
Though your situation might be difficult, try to focus on the positives: you no longer have to tell anybody they can’t use Barstool Sports as an academic source; you might never have to read the words “moreover” or “thusly” again; your work-life balance might even improve, even though you spend all of your free time trying to find berries and leaves you can eat without shitting yourself to death.
You could have gone to teach high school English or listened to your brother-in-law Jared and get that online “data analyst” certification, but no, you kept adjunct teaching. You stuck to a job that provides inadequate pay, minimal stability, and zero-growth potential because you believed in your work. You stuck with this job because of your principles… principles which you can’t quite remember anymore… but at least you stuck to them. It’s time for you to start investing in your future—one where you might have to fight a raccoon for those pizza crusts the frisbee bros left in the park.