The Panhandle Rancher speaks…….



The wife and I were on the road last night headed toward our ranch where we planned to bring some horses back to our new home in the mountains. As we pulled over for the evening, the mains power went off line. We saw the streetlights go out and the hotel in front of us blend into the night. The diesel truck hummed along and the GPS was working so I happily presumed it was a localized power outage.


We pulled into the Holiday Inn Express and several men were loitering and smoking near the lobby door. I pointed out the extra 1911 I keep loose in the cab for quick access and asked the wife to lock the door after I got out. I keep a five cell mag light clipped to the door post of all our trucks and I took it with me. As a flashlight junkie, I had nearby a vehicle charged Streamlight, along with a Surefire St. Minimus headlamp, and Kroma LED flashlight. Not wanting to exit pistol in hand, I left mine concealed while enjoying the bulk of the big heavy flashlight (how many times has law enforcement had to look for hairs and fibers on the knurled barrel of a Mag light?). I walked through the knot the men and forced open the sliding entrance door. I had the impression those outside didn’t know how to do this as the non-smokers followed me into the dark lobby. There were no emergency lights and the lady at the desk had only a pen light. Inside, there was another cluster of men milling around. They were all in their late 40s or older. I flashed my retired US Government ID to the lady at the desk and asked her in a whisper if she was all right. She seemed nervous but claimed to be fine and advised someone had been called to start the backup generator. This was a surprise as my generator starts automatically. Of course the hotel computer was down and she apologized for not being able process a room.


I shined my light around on the men trying to destroy their night vision and loitered along with them. After a few minutes, the lady at the desk told me there was a Hampton Inn nearby and suggested it. I must have made her more nervous that my peer group in the lobby. Again, I asked if she was all right. Something about all those men just hanging around in the dark set my nerves on edge.


Another small group of men were hanging around outside of the Hampton Inn. Someone had already forced the door open. In the lobby, the lone female at the desk had a small flashlight. A dozen or more older men were just standing around doing nothing. Fortunately the Hampton computers were on an UPS. Again I flashed my USG ID and asked if she was comfortable with all the men hanging around. By then, I had already shined my light into their eyes several times. More comfortable with the situation than I was, she claimed to be fine and repeated the same story from the other hotel: the maintenance man had been called to start the backup generator. I gave her my cellular number and told her to call if things got unruly. Nowhere in the lobbies of either hotel were battery powered emergency lamps. Of course, the only room available was on the third floor and she smiled as she mentioned it was near the elevators. I chuckled and asked for the special power off, lug the bags up the stairs, room rate and was surprised that she offered to call the manager for a discount.


I exited through the knot of men headed back to the truck. I parked and we got out, I with my headlamp, the wife with the Kroma. I lugged our baggage up the stairs and to my surprise, only the top floor of the stairway was lit by emergency light. The card access locks were individually battery powered so we had no problem getting into the room. Having had a good look around our very dark room, I trekked back down to bring up our BOBs and rifle. By then, people were saying a transformer had been hit by lightening.


As we settled into our dark and hot hotel room, the wife and I shared a few thoughts about how things might have been were this were a true Shumer EMP situation. Identical knots of milling older men in the two lobbies were curious. None had flashlights; all were clueless. As the men were uniformly older, I opined nagging wives probably forced them from their rooms in search of information and/or escape. The wife nicely suggested the place for me was in the room with her.


Settling in for the night, we were comfortable knowing we had protection (two 1911s, a SIG P220, and MBR), we had light and night vision if necessary, safe water and the ability to purify water in our BOBs, and a week supply of food. Excluding the night clerks, the sheeple were lacking even a flashlight.


I’m curious what the behavioral specialists might conclude from the knots of uniformly older men clustered in the hotel lobbies. My wife and I both proclaimed them ‘zombies’ and laughed. The men were just milling about in the dark doing nothing, not even talking with one another. If there were younger men in the mix I would have been really worried but nary a youngster was in sight. It was weird but perhaps their wives were keeping them occupied. Heavy cloud cover made it really really dark. As much as I wanted to join the cluster of sheeple in the lobby in order to learn from the situation, my place was with the wife.


We had a fleeting glimpse of life in the big city without electricity. Everyone was civil, at least for the first few minutes without power during which time everyone ‘knew’ the power would be back on momentarily. My impression was that it was very dark and a lot of people were milling around, surely a recipe for sudden violent trouble.



Panhandle Rancher





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  1. My guess on the ‘men’ at the entrance would go all the way back to the days of the caveman.

    I suspect the men in that day would have been near the entrance to protect their ‘possessions’ from intruders, and the ‘milling around’ but not talking groups are somehow fulfilling that function.

    I am also a flashlight junkie. I always have a ‘2 – AA battery LED Flashlight’ in my pocket. 1st ‘on’ is full bright, 2nd ‘on’ is 1/2 bright, 3rd is a strobe, and 4th is ‘SOS flashes’ – then it recycles to full bright.

    There are always lessons to be learned by observing human behavior in extraordinary circumstances.

  2. I like CM’s hypothesis. I found it almost offensive that one would assume these men were “sheeple” or were going to attack the front desk ladies. It would make a lot of sense for the men to be standing down in front to make sure that the homeless or otherwise desperate folks didnt make thier way into the hotel.

    • Jennifer –

      Sometimes you have to rust your instincts. Panhandle Rancher had a feeling, and I think was being cautious. As preppers – that is what we do. Likely nothing was going to happen – in fact nothing did happen – but I think it was pretty nice and responsible of him to look after the lone female in he area.



  3. Well as a former Security Enforcement Officer I agree with the Panhandle Rancher, A large group of men hanging out …outside of the Hotel in the dark is somewhat Suspicious in my book & the Group inside in the Lobby even more so!

    How hard is it to leave your room go down to the fornt desk get the information that is needed & then return to your rooms, goto the Hotel bar and Hangout there.

    Besides my Mag-lite & Firearms, I also carry a 22 inch long,
    500,000 volt Stun Baton (aka) A Humane Cattle Prod! It does wonders in getting people’s ATTENTION push the button & you get to SEE & HEAR it come alive ! Bright Blue Electrical Arcing & that LOAD CLICKING SOUNDS that resembles a TAZER !

    as for the Lack of Emergency lighting & the Hotel’s backup generators not comming on with in 5 minutes that’s just plain lack of Emergency Perpeardness, As an Emergency Generator or Battery Backup system should power-up as soon as it doesn’t sence any incomming power from the GRID for any length of time longer the 1-5 minutes !

    & for a Major Hotel Chain, To not have Emergency Lighting & Backup Power Available Immediately ! I’ld Fire the management in charge of those Hotels if I owned them because thats just unexceptable! Running a business that is Traveler Oreintated & then subject them to those kinds of conditions is just short of criminal behavior.
    How hard is it to place a Verticle Axis Wind Turbine somewhere on the property, or a Solar system on the Roof of the Hotel & a Ni-Cad Battery Bank down by the Emergency Generator, & Depending on the size of the Generator Room you could potentially have enough room to have at least a 24-36 hr. Battery backup system for hotel guests.

    But the mindless congergating in the lobbies & outside the main doors of both the hotels Screams Volumes ….. Our country has actually found a way to Breed out someones COMMON SENCE & Powers of Observation, or they were just to LAZY & were waiting for someone else to do what they haven’t the brains to figure out on their own !

  4. Panhandle Rancher-you did all the right things and thanks for asking those woman how they were. I imagine
    many of the men were smokers and probable wanted to get away from their worried wives(shame on them) .Many
    might have been truckers who were there alone.(usually they would be happy to get some sleep I think)Yes the younger couples were “busy” smile.
    Another reason to always be prepared . Thanks for sharing Rancher.Arlene

  5. Thanks all for your comments. The hotels were located in Clinton, Oklahoma on opposite sides of the Interstate. Emergency lighting was woefully lacking. My wife and I concluded the standards there were very poor.

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