So, bad Citibank commercials aside, it is an interesting question. I think you can learn a lot about people by looking at what they carry around with them everyday. Now, for the ladies, this clearly extends to the entire purse, not just the wallet. I remember back in junior high and high school, I always wanted to be exceptionally prepared. There was a time when these huge woven bags were in style. Nowadays, they would be viewed as a weekend beach bag. But then, in the heyday of the 80s, they were girls' purses. So, I would carry around everything known to man. I had an entire aerosol can of hairspray in my purse. I had a set of makeup, I had it all. You name it, I had it. Looking back, as an armchair psychologist, I'd say I was trying to gain control over some are of my life. My mother had a tendency to get so focused on projects that she'd forget us at school dances and I felt powerless to make things happen for myself. But then, what teen doesn't feel powerless?
My purse these days is definitely minimalist in approach. In my wallet I carry minimal cash and a couple of credit cards, my insurance card, my Jordanian ID, and my American driver's license. In the rest of my purse, I carry my cell phone (unless it's in my pocket), a pen and pencil, my keys, and a small container of Advil/Tylenol (think the size of a lipstick). No kitchen sink, no hair spray, no need for control. However, another thing you'll notice from the items in my purse is this: I play it safe. I thought about this the other day when I noticed a friend who carries her American passport around. I even said to her, "Wow, you're brave." I know it can be helpful and perhaps even advisable to have it, but mine always stays in the safe when I'm in Jordan. I think she thought I was a bit on the loony-bin side. I just know the hassle it would cause and abhor the idea of a replacement passport. I've done that once. I don't anticipate doing it again. The last time I had a passport go missing (it was among my stuff, it just refused to be found until after the overseas trip), I got a replacement valid for one year. At the end of the year, they renewed the SAME passport. So, it still said it expired on one date and had a page added to the back saying it was extended. As if that didn't cause enough hassles at border crossings, the following year, I got married! So, now I had not one, but two modifications noted by adding pages in the back of the passport. As a result, I had many years of annoying immigration in countries outside the US. I hope not to need to deal with that again, ever.
Sadly, my friend had an experience that changed the way she viewed my extreme cautiousness. Last night, the sister of the woman from whom she rents her place had her purse snatched. A service drove up, someone leaned out and grabbed it from her. She lost her cash, jewelry she was carrying, and other items of value, as well as all of her its and such. My heart breaks for her as I know enough of her story to guess that she was carrying her emotional security in her purse. She must be feeling violated and insecure. And, it makes you think again, what's in my wallet. Could I replace it? Could I live without it? Do I want to? I'll be going through my already minimalist handbag and ensuring that it truly does contain the bare minimum tonight. My cautiousness becomes even more pronounced and I think, what can I afford to lose. Maybe I'll be taking the pictures of my children out, I would want to lose those...