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Last Sunday, I was at my cabin in Tahoe when I checked Twitter and saw that a two-alarm house fire was burning less than a block away from my apartment building in San Francisco. It quickly turned into a three-alarm fire with 111 firefighters on the scene.
Due to the fact that heavy winds helped spread an intense five-alarm fire in a neighborhood close to mine just the week before, I couldn’t help but feel nervous. Rationally, I knew that the chances of the fire spreading all the way to my building were slim to none, but who’s rational when shit’s burning down all over the place?
Since I was almost 200 miles away, I did the only thing I could: Texted my big brother (who also lives in my building) and asked him if he would please go to my apartment and rescue Lamby in the instance that our building did start to go up in flames.
That’s right. I wasn't worried about everything I owned getting burnt to a crisp; all I wanted was my stuffed lamb. Did I mention that I’m in my 30s?
Todd promised Lamby wouldn’t end up as grilled lamb chops. (Frankly, he owed me for the time when I was four and he and his friends stole Lamby, locked me in my room, and then put Lamby in the oven. So what if the oven wasn’t turned on? I WAS FOUR.)
So I went back to drinking and playing Apples to Apples for the eight millionth time that week.
For whatever reason, fire isn’t one of those disasters that freaks me out. When I imagine my demise, it’s much more likely to happen when I plummet down an elevator shaft after a cable breaks. Or trip in my kitchen and accidentally stab myself in the heart with the ridiculously huge knife I’m using to make cheese and crackers.
Or, most predictably: when my entire apartment building collapses during an earthquake. And yes, in that one, I’m bound to be showering when it hits and they’re totally going to find my body all naked and disgusting in the rubble. I die. Literally, apparently.
Lest you think I’m a totally weirdo with my death obsession, I once posited to my therapist that everyone imagines her death 10-15 times a day. That the majority of people can’t walk by a construction site without imagining a steal beam falling on their head or a bull dozer backing up over them.
Unfortunately, he disagreed, but whatever. Obviously he did that so that I’d think I needed to keep going to therapy.
When I drove back to San Francisco the day after the fire, though, and saw the charred remains of the houses and then read that the fire destroyed over $700,000 in belongings, not to mention the millions of dollars of structural damage, I was reminded that the pesky renters insurance I’d been meaning to get for the past five years? Yeah. Still hadn’t bothered to pick up the phone and make that happen.
I've never forgotten to DVR "Gossip Girl" or pay for my 49ers season tickets on time, but when it comes to my actual well being? I mean, it's just so boring!
Keeping that in mind, I’m not going to lecture you on the value of renter’s insurance (well, maybe just a little bit) and I know that it differs in each state. But for about $10-$30 month, you can get coverage that could be a huge money saver if you lose everything you own. (Most people just get it from the same company as their auto insurance.)
Imagine trying to furnish an entire apartment all at the same time. Not to mention rebuilding a wardrobe. Or replacing all of those electronics. And yes, all of the photos and letters will be gone, but that’s why it’s suggested you back up your computer files often and keep a copy of everything somewhere other than your house -- like the glove box of your car, for example. (Obviously I don’t do this last one because I'm too lazy, but most of you seem far more responsible than I.)
There’s also a Cloud where you can apparently store stuff other than Castles, heads, silver linings, and raindrops, but I’m not totally sure how that works, so you're on your own there.
So yes, I am now the proud recipient of renter’s insurance. And while I know a disaster, accident or thief might take things that are irreplaceable, it’s pretty reassuring to know that I won’t have to go into debt to replace those things that aren’t. And that ultimately, it's just stuff.
Plus, as long we have a roof over our heads, people who love us, and that gold ring my mom got in the 70s in Turkey (what?!), Lamby and I will be more than OK.
I was going to ask if you have homeowners or renters insurance, but ohmy god: zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. Instead, tell me:
If you could only grab one thing in a fire, what would it be?