Being prepared

It’s an understatement to say that I’m something of a boy scout. To be clear, I didn’t actually belong to the boy scouts when I was a kid, but the “be prepared” motto is pretty much how I live my life.

Check my pockets at any given moment, and you’ll most likely find three things: lip balm, a pen, and a pocket knife.

The pen is a Cross Ion, and you can’t buy them new any more. I discovered this extremely compact pen about 14 years ago, but I didn’t start carrying it regularly until 2002, when I became a part-time journalist and found that it was useful to always have a pen on me. The Ion has an unusual mechanism that involves pulling the pen open to extend the pen tip (and increase the pen size for a better grip). It’s nearly impossible for the mechanism to open accidentally, making it a great candidate for pocket duty.

The tiny Leatherman Micra pocket knife is the most valuable tool I’ve ever purchased…so much so that I’ve replaced it three times over the years (usually due to misplacing or losing the previous one). I think I bought the first one when I was on a co-op work term in Guelph, Ontario, which means that it was either the summer of 1996 or the winter of 1997, and it’s gotten to the point where I feel uncomfortable when I leave the house without it. I’ve used my Micras to fix more problems than I can count; it’s easily the item that contributes most to my boy scout reputation.

As for the lip balm…well, that’s pretty self-explanatory.No one likes it when their lips are dried and cracked. Although, I’ve also used lip balm when I need a bit of grease to fix something.

I’m also somewhat known for my satchel, which my friends unsurprisingly refer to as “Russ’s man purse”. For the past three years it’s been a Victorinox Ground Force Commander messenger bag that I randomly found in Vancouver, and which has gone almost everywhere with me. However, the constant use has taken its toll, and I recently replaced it with a leather messenger bag that’s bigger and can hold more stuff, including my laptop if need be. It’s also less purse-like (not that I ever cared about that), though I sometimes miss the smaller profile of my previous bag.

So, what’s in it, you ask? Pretty much everything that I think I might need when I’m out and about, including: coins, pens, business cards, nail clipper, bandages, ibuprofen, allergy medication, sunglasses, microfibre cleaning cloth, tissues, guitar pick, digital camera, mini tripod, USB key, Android tablet, earbud headphones, and superglue. The superglue is a recent addition that’s related to this post from March about my broken fingernail. Since the glue has proven useful, I don’t see a reason not to continue carrying it. I’ve also taken to carrying folding shopping bags, since a lot of grocery stores don’t give out plastic bags any more.

It recently occurred to me that I should also carry twist ties and plastic bags. Why, you ask? Well, I was in a situation where someone could have used both, and I didn’t have any. Whenever that happens, I make a mental note so that I won’t be caught unprepared if it happens again.

Of course, there’s a limit to how prepared one person can be, so you have to think strategically and plan for specific occasions. For example, I used to volunteer at an annual fundraising gala and learned to always bring a small bag of tools to the event. However, that doesn’t mean that I’m going to carry a hammer and wrench with me all of the time.

Similarly, I’m not going to carry tape with me. You could argue that tape would be a great choice with many purposes, and you would be correct. But if I’m really in a pinch, bandages and superglue will suffice while taking up less space.

Although, you know what would be good? Binder clips, paperclips, and string. You can do a lot with those three items. Actually, fishing line would be even better than string. Yeah…and maybe one of those little sewing kits that you get in hotel bathrooms.

This is how my brain works. I don’t get it, either.

In case you’re wondering where this all came from, this post was originally supposed to be about preparing an emergency kit, which is something that everyone living on the west coast should have. After all, when it comes to massive earthquakes, the question for British Columbians isn’t “if”, but “when”.

Unfortunately, I kind of got sidetracked into “what’s in Russ’s pockets”, and the emergency kit never had a chance.

Suffice to say that I’m getting a kit together. After all, given how much stuff I carry with me every day, it would be kind of embarrassing if I’m not prepared for an earthquake.