By Kerry Cartier, The Disaster Guy
“What are you looking for, Red?” the Disaster Guy asked. Red had papers scattered all over the kitchen table.
“My birth certificate!” Red said. “You know, proof I was born!”
“I have a belly button!” the Disaster Guy said.
“Don’t be smart with me! This is serious! They don’t want to see my belly button. They want to see my birth certificate!” Red said.
“Sorry! Can’t help you!” the Disaster Guy said.
“Well, if you were looking for your birth certificate, where would you look?” Red asked.
“I’d look in my Everything Book,” the Disaster Guy said.
“What’s an everything book?” Red asked.
“Mine is a three-ring notebook that has copies of all my important papers in it,” the Disaster Guy said. “That’s why I call it my Everything Book – it has everything in it.”
“Like what?” Red asked.
“It begins with important medical information for me and my wife, with who to contact in an emergency, what medical problems we have, and contacts for health insurance,” the Disaster Guy said.
“Then it has birth certificates, church certificates, marriage certificate, diplomas, and health and life insurance,” he said. “I added car titles, auto insurance policies, house deeds, home insurance policies, bank accounts, house payments, and credit cards.”
“To finish off, I added driver’s and professional licenses, Social Security Numbers, cell phone serial numbers, honors and awards, wills, old powers of attorney, photos, memberships, and important phone numbers of relatives, doctors, and friends,” he said. “As I said, it’s an Everything Book.”
Red was speechless. He looked at the papers strewn on his kitchen table. Then he asked, “How did you do it?”
“We got tired of looking everywhere for a piece of paper, Red,” the Disaster Guy said. “So we put a cardboard box in the middle of the living room, and every time we remembered where an important document was, we dropped it into the box.”
“In a couple of weeks the box was full,” the Disaster Guy said. “We sorted the documents just as I told you, then bought plastic pages that fit the three-ring binder and put it all together.”
“You know, you are smarter than you look,” Red said. “I think that’s a great idea!”
“Yeah, it comes in handy sometimes,” the Disaster Guy said. “But it isn’t the kind of project you can do once, and have done forever. You have to keep it up.”
“What do you mean, ‘Keep it up?’” Red asked.
“Well, for example, your driver’s license has an expiration date,” the Disaster Guy said. “Before it expires, the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles either sends you a new one, or you go take a test to get a new one. Then you put a copy of the new license in the Everything Book.”
“Things change, Red. The Everything Book needs to be updated every six months or a year so the information in it is current,” he said. “Of course, the Everything Book has a table of contents, and every item in it is dated.”
“I get it!” Red said. “You call it the Everything Book because it’s a book that has everything in it!”
“That’s kind of an oxymoron, Red, but it’s true,” the Disaster Guy said. “If it didn’t have everything in it, it couldn’t be my Everything Book.”
“Where do you keep it?” Red asked.
“The original is in the safety deposit box at the bank, and I have a Xerox copy in my bedroom,” the Disaster Guy said. “I have one flash drive I carry in my wallet that has PDF copies of every document on it.”
“If something happened to me and I were unconscious and not responding in the hospital, my wife would have copies of all the important documents she’d need,” the Disaster Guy said. “The Everything Book is probably the best source material there is on each of us.”
“I think I need to make my own Everything Book,” Red said. “I’m tired of chasing all these papers!”
“It isn’t that hard to do, though most people don’t do it,” the Disaster Guy said. “But then, most people have never heard of an Everything Book. If they did, they’d make one. It isn’t that difficult.”
“Be sure to put your birth certificate in it,” the Disaster Guy added. “You will need it.”
“What? You can’t be satisfied with just having a belly button?” Red asked.
“Of course I can,” the Disaster Guy said. “I’ve got a picture of mine in my Everything Book!”
The Everything Book isn’t a new idea, though it may be new to some readers. It’s just a simple way to organize all the pieces of paper that document a person’s life. It would be useful in an emergency or for disaster survival. Some of this information is on my website, www.DisasterGuy.com, as Tips you can download for free. And the Disaster Guy is just kidding. He doesn’t have a picture of his belly button in the book.