My daughter and I were joking about what we would do to survive a zombie apocalypse when, in horror, we realised it is here and now.
Mindless people surround us. They instinctively attack with a view to infecting and killing anything that does not conform to their perception of the world.
With a banshee squeal, they attack and threaten and devour anything living and breathing. Ideas, enthusiasm, innovation, inspiration. If you are drawing breath, they are there mindlessly walking around waiting to drag you in to their horde. They cannot be reasoned with, only mitigated.
We are surrounded by ghouls relishing their past successes; their views of a life lived on former glories, dwelling nostalgically on times when things were so much better than they are today. They scrutinise you. You don’t fit the mould. You must be consumed. They live in the shadows and ambush you at every opportunity.
They blindly follow each other around looking for opportunities to rip in to the living, pulling them apart and scooping out their brains. Their screeches and pointing fingers designed to single out their prey and bring them in to the ranks of the obedient and docile dead.
Today’s zombies are not always easy to spot. Unlike the walking dead of TV and film, their numbers are large but they are not always in plain view. They troll social media, they use BM and salt to flavour comments sections on blog posts and websites; and they use the legal system to plunge their victims in to cautious, often calamitous situations.
They congregate in pubs and cafes and shopping centres, on Google, Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter, Reddit and online gaming chat; on Twitch and on YouTube. They are as relentless as they are mindless. Their perceptions become their reality. Their thirst for blood, insatiable.
They have no race, or creed, gender, colour or religion. They are truly ubiquitous and undifferentiated.
What to do? Unsurprisingly, the rules from Zombieland (the movie) seem fitting for our real life zombie apocalypse:
#1 – Cardio
Know your heart. Establish your ‘why.’ defend it, nurture it, live it.
#2 – The Double Tap
Best laid plans and all that. Make sure you have your bases covered.
#3 – Beware of Bathrooms
Water cooler and bathroom gossip might reveal things you don’t want to hear, or share. Maintain your integrity
#4 – Seat belts
Risk management is a real thing. Be realistic about what might go wrong and develop strategies to counter them.
#6 – The Skillet
Sometimes it takes a whack on the head to help you see sense. Be aware of your paradigm.
#7 – Travel Light
Don’t carry baggage. It’ll weigh you down and hold you up. Let go, be free of that mental torment.
#8 – Get A Kick-ass Partner
Everyone needs a buddy. Make sure it is a living breathing buddy, not a zombie.
#12 – Bounty Paper Towels
Wipe up your messes, keep yourself clean, throw away the leftovers.
#15 – Bowling Ball
Sometimes you have to knock over all the things you lined up, and start again. Do it from a distance, at least mentally.
#17 – Don’t Be A Hero
Standing up for others and being the centre of attention just adds to the ego and pride. Do stuff because it is the right thing to do, and don’t get too hung up on building an image. It just attracts more zombies. You do you. Keep doing that.
#18 – Limber Up
Life is an apprenticeship. Be ready. Don’t think you ever know it all.
#21 – Avoid Strip Clubs
Maintain your name and your reputation. At the end of the day it is all you have. Defend your integrity to the end, and don’t put it in to question in the first place.
#22 – When In Doubt, Know Your Way Out
Have an exit strategy (there’s that word again), have a succession plan, know when to move on. Your nearest exit might be behind you.
#29 – The Buddy System
Kick-ass partners are one thing, but have a network of friendlies you can count on to help you out if trouble comes.
#31 – Check The Back Seat
Make sure your buddies haven’t transitioned over night, and don’t assume there’s no one after you.
#32 – Enjoy The Little Things
Success is incremental, even if it happens ‘overnight.’ Don’t let the problems get you down, celebrate the small wins as well as the big ones. but don’t spend too much time letting your successes hold you back.
#33 – Swiss Army Knife
One trick ponies can dominate markets, but know enough about the whole picture as practicable. When you are reading that contract, know what those terms mean and if you don’t, ASK for an explanation.
Not the greatest lawyer in the world, but know how to read a contract
Not the greatest accountant in the world, but know how to calculate operating profit
Not the greatest strategist in the world, but have ideas about risk and mitigation anyway
#UDR1 – Always carry a change of underwear
It is amazing how good a clean pair of socks and underwear can make you feel after a tough day in the trenches.
#UDR2 – Double-knot your shoelaces
Don’t trip yourself up.
#UDR3 – It’s a marathon, not a sprint. Unless it is a sprint, then sprint
Know when to conserve energy, and when to give it all you’ve got. You cannot go at the same speed all the time. Know when it is appropriate to do one, or the other.
#UDR4 – Pack your stain stick
Sometimes you need to act immediately because if you don’t you’ll never recover.
Zombieland Rules from the cellphone game – have fun interpreting these for yourself.
#2 – Zip-lock (keep it fresh?)
#3 – Double Tap (covered)
#5 – Shoot First (be proactive, not reactive)
#7 – Incoming! (get ready for barrages, have sufficient ammo)
#8 – Break it up (one bite at a time?)
#9 – With your bare hands (get in there with your people)
#10 – Don’t swing low (aim for the stars and hit at least a good-sized tree)
#11 – Use your feet (keep moving, agile will beat powerful most times unless arrogance gets in the way)
#13 – Shake it off (zombies will try to bring you down. Don’t carry it with you)
#22 – Opportunity knocks (recognise them, have strategies to sprint)
#24 – Use your thumbs (it’s all going to be ok)
#USR1 – Don’t Scare Survivors
Bill Murray tried to scare ‘Columbus’ and ended up getting shot in the chest so, in that case, never scare another survivor, especially if they have a gun, and especially don’t dress up as a zombie without informing every living being you know.
Ultimately, this list means have your strategies planned out. Large and small, sometimes it is a campaign of action to raid the shopping centre to get much-needed supplies (marketing, new product, people and leadership); other times it is a pocket strategy like what to do if you’re ambushed (crisis, product failure, customer service).
Of course, you can still work with zombies, you just have to be take the responsibility to know how to stay safe and achieve your goals in spite of them.
In Cargo, Andy (Martin Freeman) knew he was infected but worked out how to use that to achieve his goals after death.
Just because they are zombies doesn’t mean you cannot be friends as Shaun (Simon Pegg) did in ‘Shaun of the Dead.’ Shaun’s bff, Ed (Nick Fish), transitioned towards the end of the movie. Shaun kept him in the shed and visited him every day. You can still love them even if they would use your intestines for spaghetti.
On a more serious note though, when the zombies are getting to you or freaking you out, remember Teddy Roosevelt’s ‘The Man in the Arena’ speech (sorry, relevant, inspirational, but not particularly PC. I’ve substituted as I thought appropriate)
“It is not the critic who counts, not those who point out how the strong person stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done better.
The credit belongs to the person in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly…who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends themselves in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if they fail, at least fail while daring greatly, so that their place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who have never known neither victory nor defeat.”
Now, limber up. T-shirts available here.