JUST IN CASE
Well, it’s come again. I can’t avoid it anymore. It’s the yearly clean up. This is the beginning of a process wherein I gather up all the papers from the past year, file them away in big cardboard boxes with labels like, “Bank Statements, 2004”, “Business Receipts, 2004”, etc., and then stack them up at the front door so that Art can take them down to the basement storage. We must have about 500 square feet of storage space already filled from the past seven years’ worth of records (which I understand is generally how long you have to keep your receipts just in case the I.R.S. wants to audit your tax returns). It’s kind of like the lotto in reverse. You know that your chances of being audited are slim to none (although, alas, not as slim as your chances of winning the lotto). Still, one must be prepared. The weird thing is – I think I just finished putting away our 2003 papers last week!
If you count up all the “just in case” things we do in modern life, you realize that we devote a great deal of time, energy, and money to the various gloomy hypotheticals that clutter our thoughts. There is insurance for every contingency. There is fire insurance, home or renter’s insurance, earthquake insurance (here in California, anyway), flood insurance, auto insurance, and of course, health insurance (even for our pets). There is business insurance in case your warehouse or office is destroyed by a natural disaster. There is even insurance to cover your mortgage, just in case you should slip on a banana peel and be rendered permanently unable to pay (or dead). Oh yes, that reminds me – There is burial insurance. Just in case you should die. There is vacation insurance (just in case your cruise is rained out). There is flight insurance, so that if your plane goes down your estate can sue the airline. (That’s just too creepy for me).
Oh, and then there are emergency supplies. We are constantly reminded to keep canned provisions and bottled water on hand – just in case. Duct tape. (There really are a million uses for duct tape, not all of them laughable). Then there are Band-aids, hydrogen peroxide, paper plates, flashlights, batteries, battery-powered radios and TVs, aspirin, extra toilet paper, propane stoves, generators, and of course, a bottle of whiskey (for medicinal purposes only). I also like to keep an emergency suitcase packed in case we have to leave our home in the middle of the night unexpectedly.
Then there are the things you do “just in case” you should get very lucky. I don’t know what the name is for this. For example, you might buy a Rolls-Royce key ring, just in case you do win the lotto. You might buy a formal gown just in case you should ever win the Oscar. You might learn French, just in case you should be named Ambassador to France. You might take up dance. just in case Broadway comes calling. Or in my own case, you might send a song to Reba (just in case she is looking for exactly the song you wrote). Notice that my list of “just in case” good stuff is a whole lot shorter than my “just in case” bad stuff.
My husband says I worry too much, and maybe I do. My therapist once told me that this was the result of Jewish ghetto mentality built up over thousands of years and, I guess, genetically imprinted on my brain. I’m always waiting for the other shoe to drop. But – what if I’m right? I’d better keep worrying, just in case.
Anyway, I’d better cut this short and run my errands in town. Just in case there’s a torrential downpour later that floods the roadways.
© 2005, Robin Munson