I thought about this again when I was reading Janet Evanovich's By the Numbers series. Stephanie Plumb had a gun and maybe some bullets in her purse. . .somewhere. . .
What your character carries with them is a big insight into the character's thought process, background, and lifestyle. As an example, I'm going to show you the inside of my purse so you can see what I mean.
Ta dah! This is my purse with the insides pulled out.
It weighs a TON!
In the center of the black organizer is this toiletry bag
Which looks like this when opened.
By now you might be thinking, wow this chick is VERY organized.
When it comes to my purse, I am.
Just like a bag carried by a military person or an EMT, my bag is there for convenience and to save lives. It has saved lives many times. So I am very careful with how things are packed into my bag.
This is what's inside that toiletry bag:
On the right of the bag are the everyday niceties:
- chapstick - outdoors a lot
- deodorant - two teens
On the left tools/safety
- paracord (blog article)
- swiss army type knife
- small leatherman
- Glucose tabs (to counter low blood sugar)
In the center go six specialized mini-kits:
Kit #1 (MOST important)
- diabetic meter
- test strips and fresh needles
- alcohol wipe
- fast acting glucose (read about using that in this scene of MISSING LYNX)
- And a hair tie - because if you're using the glucose gel on someone, you'll have it in your hair.
- shampoo taken from hotel stay because it works like soap.
- lighter/cotton balls for fire starting
- 2 glow sticks
- tweezers (can use lighter to disinfect)
- 2 different colors of duct tape - the bright pink is good for marking trails if you are lost. Also great for writing information for the EMT prior to their arrival when assessing and triaging folks. Just stick it on their arm at the wrist.
- And grey is an all purpose helper. (They are each wrapped around used gift cards.)
- honey works great for a bunch of issues from low glucose to wound care
- benadryl in instant melt form can save someone having an allergic reaction
Hair and Clothes
Meds - the basics
- Pamperin (great for migraines)
Other first aid - (products for alternative use)
- umbrella with pen light
- wand flashlight
- CPR kit with gloves and respiration mask
- 6 meal replacement bars
- red lipstick
Did you note how many forms of light I have?
1 high lumen hand held light wand
1 high lumen tactical flashlight
2 glow sticks
1 hand crank flashlight
1 mini pen light
(and if push came to shove) a lighter
8 forms of lighting.
WHY??? you may ask. I have been involved in many a crisis, and it seems the one recurrent theme is it's pitch black. Emergencies in the dark are darned dangerous.
Did you notice the forms of food/glucose?
6 meal replacement bars
1 tube glucose tablets
1 tube fast acting glucose
$ for emergency food
11 forms of possible sugar/food.
WHY??? (I know the diabetes meter was a give away.) My kid #4 is a T-1 diabetic. BUT 1/3 of America has some form of diabetes. All of the emergency diabetic stuff I carry, in the ten years I have carried it, has only been used to save strangers' lives.
If I had lead a life different from the one I have, I would obviously carry different products in a different way.
Things not on my priority list include brushes and makeup except for my energy boosting red lipstick which BTW is excellent for writing tourniqueted-limb times on foreheads etc. Ah, now would your character have had that thought when she put her lipstick in her bag?
What's in your character's wallet or purse?
- Will it help?
- Will it thwart?
- Will it give insight?
- Will it be a conversation starter?
- MAYBE it will twist your plotline.