What Makes You Useful?

A few years ago Mr Smaggle and I had some mates over for dinner. After we’d eaten our fill of delicious curry, ingested an unhealthy amount of wine and no doubt indulged in some sort of baked good, the conversation naturally veered toward the zombie apocalypse and who each of us would like to have on our zombie fighting team, should it ever be necessary to form one in the future. I was the only female there and slowly but surely I was metaphorically crushed under the weight of their giant man penises and it was decided that theoretically,  I wasn’t a desirable candidate for their zombie apocalypse team.

I was appalled. Firstly, it was really mean. Secondly, it was really sexist. Thirdly, I’m an extremely useful person and they should have been begging to have me on their zombie apocalypse team. When I mentioned my usefulness to the circle jerk of manhood they were all ‘Yeah, you’re useful. For a woman!’. I do need to point out here that my friends are not sexist in real life. I assure you, I would not be friends with them if they were. The excess testosterone, cheap red wine and completely fictional discussion seemed to make my usually not-particularly-relevant vagina, look like a massive liability for no other reason than its general existence.

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Also our conversation was mainly based around zombie movies and TV shows where women are useless bimbos who get killed off in the first attack, useless love interests who only survive because they spend the entirety of the film delicately tucked under the arm of a dirty handsome man or they’re walking wet dreams who wear pleather and sharp shoot zombies with their eyes closed. In defense of my lovely male mates, I don’t fit into any of the above categories so they had a hard time envisioning what I could contribute to the team in a practical sense. I realised I had to sell myself and I had to do it quickly. You really don’t want to be convincing people to let you on their team when half an infected corpse is clawing at your face. You want that deal locked and loaded WELL before you’re pulling a rotting zombie hand out of your mouth. So on that note, here are my most useful and relevant skills, should you ever consider me for your zombie defense group.

I have excellent cardio stamina…

If zombies were fast, I’d be screwed. Thankfully they’re really slow and they’re often missing feet or legs which makes them even slower. Speed without stamina won’t save you when 300 zombies are shuffling along behind you in a 10km long tunnel with no exits. Stamina on its own will. The zombie apocalypse is probably the only time that being able to run 10km really slowly is a braggable trait.

I’m good at fixing things… 

I can weave, sew, crochet and knit. I can knot rope so that you can’t ever undo it again. If you leave me with an old tarp and a stick I’ll turn it into a god damn structural masterpiece. I’m also good at fixing things in a hurry. It’s a stage actor thing. If you’ve got 20 seconds, a tiny square of gaffer tape and three bobby pins to fix your dress before you go back onstage, lest the audience cop an eyeful of your pasty boobs, you bloody well find a way to do it. Emergency fix ups are an art I mastered a long time ago. This is probably why I’ve been a bridesmaid so many times.

I can cook meals from scraps…

Give me a couple of assorted cans of stuff – tomatoes, tuna, corn – and I’ll be able to whip it into something palatable for the whole team. It seems like a lame skill when we’ve all just eaten a gourmet meal in our comfortable pre-zombie lounge rooms but if you’ve been living off cans of powdered milk for three months because no one in your team knows what artichokes are, you’ll be begging me to make you my Zombieland Ratatouille.

I can melt metal…

I’m a qualified jeweller which makes me the equivalent of Magneto in the zombie apocalypse. It also means that I know which chemicals are explosive and which ones will melt your skin off. Just remember Google is dead. You need my hazardous chemicals knowledge.

I’m a bit dead inside…

I have absolutely no problems at all with shooting little girl zombies in the head. I won’t even cry when I do it and it’s doubtful I’ll ever think about it again. I’ve always been more practical than emotional. This is a huge advantage to your team because I won’t waste time deciding whether to save a random human or the zombie version of someone I love. They’re a zombie. Bullet. Head. Done. Someone pour me a whisky.

Today’s question is simple. I’m recruiting for my zombie apocalypse team.

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What skills can you bring to the table? What makes you useful?

Carly is the founding editor of Smaggle which launched in 2007 back when blogging was weird. She has appeared in The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, Cosmopolitan and Cleo magazines. Hoop earrings are totally her thing and she almost got run over by Myf Warhurst while out jogging one day.


  1. Grant Heino 2 years ago

    Dear Smaggle,

    Below you will find my Zombie Apocalypse Survival Team application. I think that you will find that I am indeed qualified to join whatever cabal of misfits you fashion together to survive said Apocalypse.

    1. I’m a closet survivalist…
    I know how to skin and gut rabbits and fish, and I’m certain I could figure out poultry or dog if I needed to. I know a great deal about what plants, berries and nuts you can forage in Australia too, as well as a great deal about coastal ‘wild foods’. I spent a great amount of my childhood holidays camping. I may not like it as a luxury-crazed adult, but I can camp like it’s nobody’s business!

    2. Like you, I’m a bit dead inside…
    I’s have no trouble dispatching zombified friends, relatives or loved ones. I think that this stems from regularly deleting people from my Facebook list, and having a general disregard for anything or anyone that isn’t immediately useful to me.

    3. I enjoy theft…
    Hours of playing Skyrim and general magpie/kelpto tendencies mean that I am constantly on the look out for useful things that I can… well, steal. I don’t actually steal things in real life, but if I needed to, I could do so without feeling the faintest skerrick of remorse. Let’s say we came across another band of survivors and they let us share their hovel for a night. While you fixed them a delicious meal of long life milk and tinned pineapple and fixed their broken backpacks with paperclips; I would be pocketing everything useful that was not nailed down.

    4. I trained for this…
    I spent three years working in DISCOUNT RETAIL at Clintz Crazy Bargains. Every shift I was so bored that I ran survival scenarios in my head, based around my location. “Swarm of zombies enter the store and begin cannibalising everyone. How do you escape?” Three. Whole. Years. I think I am pretty ready to survive any situation thrown at us.

    Thank you for your consideration.


    • Author
      Smaggle 2 years ago

      Dear Grant,

      You had me at ‘I enjoy theft.’ You’re in.


      • Erika 2 years ago

        It’s not stealing. It’s salvage. Woe betide useful things left on the verge. I have a panel van and I’m not afraid to use it. The Caddy definitely has Tardis tendencies. Oh yeah. Around 900km to a tank of diesel. I figure that’s pretty good.

        • Author
          Smaggle 2 years ago

          Brilliant! You’re in. Also I totally got the Dr Who reference. I just started watching the 2005 series with Billie Piper in it. LOVE IT.

          • Erika 2 years ago

            OMG. (shakes head, tries to remember not everyone is Whovian). Lady Smaggle, you NEED to watch Torchwood.

          • Author
            Smaggle 2 years ago

            What’s Torchword???

          • Erika 2 years ago

            Seriously. It doesn’t really get better than Captain Jack Harkness.

  2. Some friends and I have spent more time than I care to admit discussing the zombie apocalypse and our plan!

    My Skills:
    1) Cardio Endurance
    I’ve gone from being 147kg and getting puffed walking about 200m to being able to complete Tough Mudder at 97kg. Bring it on, Zombies.
    2) I Don’t Like People In General
    So I’m not going to be the bleeding heart Andrea thinking I can “save” Woodbury or The Governor. While we are planning to help most of our friends & family when shit goes down, we do (honestly) have a list of people who might need to be the first to go.
    3) I Grew Up In The Country
    …on 55 acres backing onto state forest in The Whitsundays with horses, cows, Taipan snakes (including in our laundry once!) and knowing how to shoot and survive cyclones.
    4) We’ve Got A Plan B
    Most of our ZAP (Zombie Action Plan) revolves around our immediate area in Townsville & the Tablelands in North Queensland. But EVERYONE is going to be ram raiding the wholesale food store & one gun shop – we’ve astutely complied a list of the less obvious spots to go foraging for supplies in.
    5) I Have No Mobile Reception @ Home
    …and thanks to bush telecommunications still not being up to scratch in this country, my home line & internet regularly goes down too. So in a way, I’m already training for how to amuse myself and problem solve without my smart phone.
    6) I Know How To Home Brew
    Really this should have been point one and my entire application!

    • Author
      Smaggle 2 years ago

      Holy shit Chelsea, that’s a MASSIVE weight loss. Seriously congratulations that fucking huge. You must feel amazing. You already had me ‘I don’t like people’ and you sealed with home brew. Congratulations. You’re in.

    • Sar Cullen 2 years ago

      Chelsea – you have some maaaaad skillz! I’m from Canberra and I shudder to think about surviving in the tropics. I’m always thinking about how to stay warm!

  3. Tahlia Meredith 2 years ago

    Oh I’m out. Look, if it came to it I could *probably* survive, but I certainly don’t have any mad skillz that spring to mind. Tell you what, if the zombies get me, you can have my stuff to turn into weapons or something.

    • Author
      Smaggle 2 years ago

      Excellent. Maybe you can hide out for years and when everything dies down you can help re-populate the earth?

  4. I would be the ultimate sacrifice: I could keep those zombies occupied feasting on my ample arse for at least half an hour. Just enough time for everyone else to escape…

    • Author
      Smaggle 2 years ago

      Excellent. You’re in. I had a few people on Facebook volunteer too. I’ll look after Amalfi after you get eaten.

  5. Sar Cullen 2 years ago

    I’m in – because I want to win and because my skills compliment yours and Grant’s. Where as both of you are a little dead inside, I am quite the opposite. I don’t want to sound like a goodie two shoes but you have to have a well rounded team, and I’m the carer, the nurturer. That doesn’t mean I’m soft though – no no – it’s just that if everyone’s a little dead inside we might as well all be zombies. I’m not too organised in an everyday work environment (I don’t own a diary/use an app) but you should see me camp – I own that shit. I am not reliant on modern day luxuries – although I know where to get the best survival gear from. I’m super practical. I can fish. I am patient. I don’t need to shower every day. I’m happy pooping in the… anywhere. I’m generally a happy person, and get along well with most people (especially if it’s only for a short period of time). I get my point across without being rude. I let others have their say. I’m a quick learner. I’m a realist – if we need to use the dog as bait, that’s what we will do. I have already had a convo with my dog Boo, explaining to him that if the zombie apocalypse happens I’ll put him down. He’s old, he understands… I think – overall – I’m a dynamic team player and if there’s one thing we all know we need to survive this thing… it’s a cohesive team.

    • Author
      Smaggle 2 years ago

      Oh honey, you don’t have to try to sell yourself. You’re a nurse. No one is letting you die.

  6. Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella 2 years ago

    LOL we definitely need to have dinner together because those are the sorts of conversations that we tend to have over dinner. And I know I’d suck but I’m ok with that. I think I’d probably try and go with the vampires.

    • Author
      Smaggle 2 years ago

      Oh totally! I actually feel like I’m part vampire. I hate the sun, I find red meat excellent and I’m definitely a natural creature of the night. Next time we see each other, We’ll play celebrity families.

  7. I would totally pick you first for my zombie apocalypse team! My hair skills are no longer necessary post-apocalypse so I’m not sure what I’d bring to the table. I’m looking forward to our next dinner party conversation 🙂

    • Author
      Smaggle 2 years ago

      That’s true… You have other skills though… none that are particularly relevant to the apocolypse. Your husband is English and every team needs a token pom… that doesn’t help you much though.

  8. Emmams 2 years ago

    My dad was an Air Force marksman who taught me to throw knives and shoot a rifle at age 12. Nuff said.

  9. Kyla 2 years ago

    Dear Smaggle,

    I don’t think I need to justify my usefulness in the event of a zombie apocalypse (it should be fairly self-evident) but here is my very desirable skill set:

    I’m strong.

    I’m a one trip wonder when it comes to retrieving bags of shopping from the car and have often been called “Kyla the Pack Horse”. Given that supplies will likely be limited to what you can carry on your back, the more you can carry with you the better.

    I’ve siblings.

    I’ve grew up with two large brothers. This translates to great combat potential after years of practice.

    I can freedive.

    This means I can:
    – dive to depth without equipment. This would grant access to previously unexplored resources, such a sunken vehicles and flooded buildings.
    – hold my breath for a long time. Maybe the zombie infection will spread via airborne particles (like in The Last of Us). Who knows?
    – swim very well. An island hideout would be ideal for avoiding zombies but you’ll still need someone to head back to shore for supplies from time to time.

    I don’t get sick.

    You don’t want to be slowed down by someone with an inferior immune system.

    I have medical knowledge.

    This means
    – I can stitch cuts and fix dislocations, broken limbs etc like a boss
    – Wicked drug and hospital layout knowledge means I’ll know which drugs to raid and where to find them
    – Anatomy knowledge increases likelihood of quick, permanent kills
    – Dissection skills for skinning and butchering of animals

    I’m a inherently a grub.

    Given the right context (be it camping or running from hoards of zombies), I’ve no compunctions about going shower-less for days on end.

    Yours sincerely,


    • Author
      Smaggle 2 years ago

      Is free diving a skill you can learn? I’d like to hear more about that please. Medical knowledge is a no brainer. You’re in.

      • Kyla 2 years ago

        It certainly is! If it wasn’t going to be so brain-numbingly cold when I return I would suggest we have a beginners course at the beach.


  1. […] I run to Woolies. I’m the master at pulling together decent meals in a very short amount of time (it’s actually one of my skills on my zombie apocalypse usefulness resume) and to celebrate my penchance for last minute entertaining I’ve teamed up with Created with […]

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