It must be an attorney’s mindset: the notion that a given lawyer is more competent than another because he is “prepared.” The notion that we shine because we have a better plan, we look at all the contingencies, and we can better expect the unexpected. The question arises, however, whether this translates into our personal lives. This article raises some simple questions about the way we function in our day-to-day lives and honestly assesses how “prepared” we really are. Are we as prepared for daily emergencies as we are for our next case?
One scenario is this: It is winter, it is late, and you are on the road. The compressing suspension of your warm car makes a shattering thud and you slide off of the road and get stuck in the mushy snow and mud that comprise the shoulder. In your frustration, you exit your vehicle, only to step into one of the potholes that put you where you are. Your Hugo Boss (or Jimmy Choos) fill with icy water. Worse yet, you drop your smartphone and watch its glow slowly fade in the puddle as it comes to rest right next to your submerged big toe. As you scan the horizon you see nothing but the finest harvested fields Indiana has to offer. You suddenly realize that you have no phone numbers, no GPS, and no idea what is where. (Siri just died, remember?)
Perhaps this is where you panic as you realize that you never actually learned how to get the spare tire out, how to undo lugs, where to place the jack on the chassis, or how to use any of it. I hope you paid attention in class when your dealer told you that those little panels on the front and back of your car conceal recovery points that you’ll need to pull you out of that snow bank.
No worries, it is time for Plan B. You’re prepared so you have a Plan B, right? Things like enough gas in the tank, warmer clothes, a blanket, some water, insulin for your diabetic child.
Safety from violence: Are you prepared about your physical safety? (It is always amazing the false sense of security a single self-defense class at the YMCA can give. It’s almost like the participation ribbon pinned to your chest fends off would-be assailants like garlic does Dracula.) Take personal safety seriously. Enroll in a program and complete it with proficiency. Allow yourself to feel the jarring impact to your body to reduce the mental shock when you experience the real thing. Remember: Not all crime happens in dimly lit parking garages. Change your daily routine, know your surroundings, read body language, be vigilant. Being vigilant does not mean being paranoid. Furthermore, if you want to carry a weapon, especially a firearm, train with it and then go train some more. At least know how to use it. The imprint of physical assault rarely, if ever, fades. Take steps to avoid its ever happening to begin with.
Preparedness at home: Next, there are other equally important aspects of being prepared. Have an emergency fund and set aside six months of expenses. Tomorrow’s health and employment are guaranteed to no one. Ensure that you and your entire family know where your home’s main water shut-off is located. It is astounding how much water pours out of a slightly cracked pipe. Locate fire extinguishers, especially in the kitchen, and teach everyone how to use them. And make sure you have the right ones. The wrong extinguisher on an oil fire can cause your home to go up very quickly. Speaking of fire, learn and practice a fire escape plan. Google and YouTube are invaluable tools to help visualize and learn.
Personal belongings: Are you prepared if you lose your house in a fire or tornado? Consider replacement cost insurance and a home inventory to have a record of what to schedule as lost or destroyed. Keep a copy of important documents you carry in your wallet or purse, in a safety box or secure place. Write down and save your driver’s license number, your credit card numbers and the customer service information in case your wallet or purse is lost or stolen.
I have become keenly aware of these things. Recently I researched and assembled a “Go Bag” that always travels with me. It was a massively daunting but immensely satisfying task. It was during that process that I realized, even more, how important foresight is. Complacency, like karma, can rear its head to invite you to the party. You can’t be ready for everything but you can be ready. At least you can rest with the satisfaction that you did something.•
Mr. Massaro is the owner of The Massaro Legal Group in Indianapolis and a member of the DTCI Board of Directors. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author.