I’m the office mom. Or, perhaps more accurately, I’m the office pharmacy. You need it? I’ve probably got it. I’ve doctored sore throats, fixed wardrobe malfunctions, entertained children, repaired appliances and fed the hungry from my left-hand desk drawer.
While I might not have absolutely everything one might need to survive the zombie apocalypse (I haven’t managed to decide between a ranged or melee personal weapon), I am pretty prepared for virtually any day-to-day emergency.
I look at it as being prepared for anything that I personally might need, but I also look at it as being able to help someone out when they need it. I call it Carry Extra To Save A Life (CETSAL). Passing someone a hair tie on a hot day or giving an exasperated mom a pack of tissues for her messy toddler might seem like insignificant things, but you never know when that little act of kindness might make someone feel less alone, less discouraged, less like giving up. It might just help for a moment, or it might make a lasting impact. We’re all human, and we’ve got to take care of each other.
Here is my list of things to always have on hand:
• Pen and notepad- Sometimes you need to write things down or give someone else information they can carry away with them. Sometimes you need to keep a child occupied for five minutes. Sometimes you’re bored and you can’t have your phone out. You can play tic-tac-toe against yourself and get mad when you lose.
• Knife- This one is kind of a duh, but have a knife. I have a nifty multi-use Swiss Army knife that has a bunch of different things on it, including a corkscrew, tweezers and flathead screwdriver in addition to the knife part.
• Lighter- I don’t smoke, and no one in the office smokes. However, there are other reasons to carry a lighter. Lighting candles, burning the ends of cords, escaping from a secret Nazi bunker a la Indiana Jones.
• Spare charge cable- Again, this is a duh. I try to be careful with my phone and not leave it on the charger after it’s done charging, but sometimes I leave it streaming music all day and then it ends up at 10 percent and I still have an hour-long meeting to cover. There is usually an outlet nearby, so having a spare charge cable to plug in saves my bacon.
• Nail file/clippers- Because sometimes you rip a nail and then you have to go all day with it snagging on things. That is hugely annoying, and I can’t stand biting nails. Also, sometimes you need to cut a tag off of something, or you need to rough up the slippery soles of a new pair of shoes.
• Lip balm- this can do triple duty. In addition to moisturizing and protecting your lips, you can rub some on your finger and put it over a cut or scrape. Depending on what kind you get, it can be used in place of lotion in a pinch.
• Quarters- Snacks and drinks cost money, and while most vending machines take paper bills, sometimes they don’t. Quarters are also a good reward for getting small children to behave for a while. Take note, this will not work with teenagers.
• Hair tie- Even if you don’t have hair long enough to have to tie back, odds are you know someone who does and can save the day. Which most of my ladies are familiar with, but my dudes, you can keep one of these on you and be a hero too. Alternately, they can be used to keep pens together, work as something to connect keys to a bag, a cable tie, a projectile…
• Pain medication- Everyone should note that, while there are cute little pill cases, best practice is to keep all pills in the original container. That way you know what you’re taking. Also, I’m an advocate of people taking care of each other, but be careful giving stuff, even over the counter pain meds, to other people.
• Menstrual pad- Easy guys, just go with me on this. Yeah, they’re manufactured for one thing, and in my opinion everyone should carry extra to save a life, because while men don’t have a monthly visitor, they know/live with/work with/are generally around someone who does, so CETSAL. But, also these puppies are highly absorbent and have other uses. Spill a drink in your car? Pop open one of these guys and soak that mess up. They come individually wrapped and are clean, so if you skin a knee, cover it with one of these until you can get to actual first aid. Best of all, they came with their own plastic wrap so they won’t leak all over the place. Pro-tip: soak one in water and put in the freezer and you have a in-a-pinch ice pack.
• Sewing kit- Everyone wears clothes. Everyone has a wardrobe malfunction at some point. If you don’t want to carry around a little kit with pre-threaded needles, carry some double-sided fabric tape.
• Mints/gum- You know why.
• Spare clothes- Okay, I actually keep an entire spare outfit in my car, along with a towel, fire boots, reflective vest, sewing kit, emergency food and water, flares, a foil emergency blanket, jumper cables and a plastic garbage bag, among other things, depending on the weather. (I’ll put a small bag of litter in the trunk during the cold months, for ice traction.) I’ve had to end up changing outfits mid-day, either due to getting soaked, having a bird poop on me, getting dirt and leaves and sand absolutely everywhere while standing too close to a helicopter taking off, or just getting really hot and sweaty because it’s South Georgia. At the very least, one should carry a spare pair of underthings, because you never know.
• Face wipes/baby wipes- See the above entry. I’ve cleaned up runny noses, coffee rings, marker, makeup, bug guts. I gave my last pack to a parent and child who were in a fender bender and needed to clean up the food and drink that spilled all over them.
Bear in mind, this list is based on the things I have needed most often. I have had cause to keep some other, weirder items in my desk, like a seam ripper, wrist brace, dry shampoo, silly string, a variety of greeting cards for almost any occasion.
Everyone has something they end up needing that it pretty unique to their circumstances. I make sure to always have an eyeglass cleaning cloth on me, for either glasses or camera lenses, lipstick and mascara.
Also, tea! That superheated infusion of tannins and free radicals, tea is good for what ails you. I have a variety in my desk drawer- black teas, green teas, lots of herbal teas; tea for sore throats, tea for headaches, tea for nausea. I don’t have any issue with giving tea to someone, especially mixed liberally with honey. I keep a personal stash of Earl Grey at my desk, but since most offices will have a way to get hot water, so I carry an individually wrapped bag in my purse as well. You never know when someone will need a cuppa. Coworker having a bad day? Tea! Catching up with a friend? Tea! Need a pick me up? Tea! Need to wind down? Tea!
What do you end up carrying around?