My Go Bag

I had a brief chat in Aussa’s comment section about my Go Bag. She’d never heard of one. Maybe they only have them in New York? Can anyone confirm that? I’ll bet Guap knows what they are.

Go Bags came around after 9/11. As part of the on-boarding process when you get a corporate job, after you get your building ID, sign a bunch of forms and are shown where the restroom and coffee break rooms are, you are given a Go Bag to keep at your desk. They’re survival kits to have on hand in case—oh, I don’t know—in case a Boeing 767 slams into your building a dozen floors below you and you’re trapped.

It’s a bright red (the better to spot you in the rubble with, my dear) nylon backpack with the company logo on it. (Blurred here to hide the address of where Guap and I work. We two handsome devils don’t need stalkers. We have busy jobs. And wives.)


Inside, you’ll find everything you need to improve the odds of your survival (assuming the whole deal hasn’t collapsed onto yo ass).


A. Fitted 3-D respirator
B. Glow Sticks
C. Thermal Blanket


D. Two packets of drinking water
E. Toilet tissue (Ick. But necessary, I suppose.)
F. Two vacuum-packed energy bars
G. Benzalkonium Chloride Towelette (in case you have a boo-boo)
H. Whistle (or, as my [female] colleague put it, a “rape whistle.” Wha?

Thankfully, I’ve never had to employ any of this stuff. The energy bars are a few years old and I’ve never been THAT hungry. I got a Go Bag at my last job and I took the glow sticks home and gave them to my daughters to play with. They’re so fun! I wish I’d had glow sticks when I was going through my narcotic phase.


This is indirectly related to the subject matter at hand. Did you guys see this in the paper?

“Taliban assailants apparently thought they were attacking an unprotected day care center. But they mistakenly burst into the compound next door, where an American government contractor’s employees were heavily armed and ready. All five Taliban attackers were killed, including one who committed suicide.”

What cowards. Their mission was to shoot children. A death sentence is exactly what they deserved. That part of the world has always been so broken. What causes such long-term societal stagnation? They’re afraid of technology. Afraid of women. Afraid of sex. Afraid of artistic expression. An awful, awful place. Who are we (the West) to think we could change it?


Last weekend there was a Veggie Pride Parade in the Village. It started down on Gansevoort Street and wound its way north to Union Square.


Typically, I don’t bemoan dirty old New York. For the most part, I prefer its present incarnation. But this place used to be so bad ass. It was Travis Bickle and Julian’s pool hall on 14th Street. When the subway would pass over a dead piece of track, all the lights would flicker and go out. You never knew what would be standing in front of you when they came back on. I spent countless delightful hours watching from a safe distance as three-card monte grifters hustled tourists in Times Square. Now this place is all hedge fund douche bags and veggie pride parades.

It’s over, Johnny. It’s over.


photo 1 (2)

The Empire State Building from Bryant Park. 8:45 p.m., April 2, 2014. Right after I saw this guy at the New York Public Library give a talk about magic:

photo 2 (1)

90 thoughts on “My Go Bag

  1. ‘Tis a strange world we live in Master Jack…and it gets stranger by the day.

    I actually packed my own “Go bag” at the start of our summer….just in case….one never knows when Nature feels like displaying its superiority over us mere humans.

  2. Our Go Bags also have aspirin, gauze and a whole mess of band-aids. We all brought ours with us when we moved from downtown. Oh, and goggles too.
    We’ll be knocking about near the flat-iron building this weekend after my big brother interview.

    • So lucky! We don’t have any meds in our Go Bags. But meds go bad, don’t they? Do you have respirators? I thought that was a particularly brilliant stroke.

      The Flatiron is my wife’s favorite building. That section they closed off to traffic where the food truck fest is held is the best.

  3. I’d never heard of a Go Bag but I can see why they’re popular. Don’t blow the rape whistle unless you want to be raped. Discussing Go Bags with Aussa gave me a flashback to a song called ‘Go, Aussie. Go!”. You wouldn’t have heard of it, being from a non-cricketing nation, but I bet Aussa has. Linked below:

  4. No Go Bag here! Only Grow bags. In Central London they removed all the bins… I doubt they’ve put them back… which meant that my handbag used to fill up with rubbish pretty fast.
    I was thinking about making up a storm bag for bad weather too! But it was more like a storm trunk by the time I had finished… wellys, kayak, rubber ring, water wings, rubber suit etc, etc….

    • I noticed that when I was in London! No rubbish bins! I would stroll through tony neighborhoods with my pockets bulging with trash. I guess we can thank the I.R.A. for that.

      We don’t have a storm bag at home, even though we were socked by Hurricane Sandy. No WAY that’ll happen again, right?

  5. I just got agita just reading about the go-bag. (Still, I do love me a good tchotchke – especially if it’s filled with food, water and glow sticks…). Hmm… wondering if my company gives them to the manhattan based employees. I shall inquire next week when I’m there.

    • Personally, I think Go Bags are a bit of an overreaction. There hasn’t been any terrorist activity in New York for almost 15 years. I doubt most people even remember theyr’e in their desk. Maybe I’m too cavilar about them.

  6. I like how you took the glow sticks home for your kids to play with — the Slumdog Millionaire inside of me is like YOU MAY NEED THOSE LATER!!! I’ll admit I have my own sort of go bag next to my bed but I’d definitely never heard of them being handed out at work… it’s so somber and yet responsible, I suppose. Seems absurd and yet very practical.

    What is this about me sounding Australian?! In my video??? People keep asking if I’m from places like Tennessee, buahaha. Okay– must go listen to that song above just as soon as I finish eavesdropping on the office next door.

    • Glow sticks are so fun! Why let them rot away in a desk drawer for years? I think Go Bags are kind of absurd more than anything else. We’re not survivalists here. I guess it’s good do be prepared but the likelihood of needing this stuff is very low, in my estimation.

      I don’t think you’ve got much of an accent at all. CERTAINLY not an Australian one! I think my pal GB was only basing that on your name alone. I don’t think he’s ever been to your place.

  7. I don’t have one in my work building. I have one in my car. It has food and water but also a change of clothes and walking shoes, a compass, and a hand crank flashlight. Maybe overdoing it but I don’t want to have to walk home in my heels in the dark.

    • Dang! You are Super-Prepared Power Gurl. Having all that stuff in the car makes a hell of a lot more sense than keeping all this crap in my desk. Do you drive in the wilderness a lot? I have a warm, fuzzy, blue blanket in the back of my car. That’s in case I get stuck in a blizzard. But I’ll starve to death in the dark. I’d rather break down in your car.

      • No, I don’t drive in the wilderness much, although I would if I could. A person might think they could just walk down the highway to get home but that’s not always possible. A whole host of things could deter you: terrorist attack, riot, flooding, fire, rubble, zombies, etc. You can buy/order ToGo bags from any number of sites, so I think it’s becoming pretty well known across the country.

      • LOL @ zombies! I think there’s a contingency of people out there who actually believe a zombie apocalypse is imminent. My Go Bag won’t help me in that case! What would I do? Throw my toilet paper at them?

  8. My Beloved made me my own Go Bag, with clean underwear, socks, handkerchief (I kid you not) and my medications. Plus a tin of tinned peaches, but no can opener. Due to the rather large and frequent earthquakes we get down in NZ, it’s reassuring to have it close by.

    I wish some nice/nasty person would release an angry bull on the vegetarian parade. Or even better, set up a Barbie with plenty of bacon sizzling upwind of the parade, and just watch the converts roll in.

    • I believe that not including a can opener is called Passive/Aggressive. Did she expect you to open it with your sharp wit? I was unaware that NZ was in a quake zone. Keep your head.

      The vegan parade is just another example of the feminization of what was once a rough town. It’s all so soft and expensive here now. I know every generation says the same thing but it’s true.

  9. As a bit of a joke, I made my friend’s husband a “survival kit” one Christmas.If only light sticks had been around then!
    Oh, and NZ is known as “the Shaky Isles”

  10. How very odd! I did write and post a response to this post yesterday…but it appears it has disappeared off into the nether regions somewhere.

    At the start of our summer I put together a small “survival kit” that included some items I thought necessary for me and for my two furry, four-legged rascally mates in case we had a summer where Mother Nature wanted to turn nasty…but, fortunately, summer came and went without any major problems. I like to be prepared…I think I could be a “just in case” person.

    • On the contrary! If you scroll up you’ll see your original comment towards the top. Is that the way-led one you’re referring to or was it a different one?

      I do what most men do…I don’t think about it. I do that with medical problems as well. If I just ignore an ache or a pain, eventually it just vanishes. Like magic! Same with impending disasters. Don’t think about it and it’ll never happen. Isn’t that smart?

  11. We call them ‘bug out bags’, and yes, i am quite familiar with them… both at work, and home. living in the tornado belt, and being raised by a woman who was terrified of tornadoes, got into my system… i have a bit of training, too. you definitely want me on your Zombie Apocalypse team, honey.

  12. Obviously, living over here I’ve never heard of a go bag. I agree that glo sticks and narcotics have “Trippy” written all over them. And personally, I’d have eaten the energy bars on day one.

    • I think it’s a riot that the energy bars would have been calling your name from inside the desk. That’s how I get if I’m watching TV and I know there’s a bag of potato chips in the kitchen. Smashed against the rocks again.

  13. Yes i know exactly what they are… i worked for over 10 years in a building that had the word Federal emblazoned across the front of it and is a symbol for American $$$, right next to another Federal building and with the fed courthouses across the street, we were the most likely target the city…

    • Well, that’s unnerving. Strangely, I never feel like I’m in any danger. I just meander through my day doing my dull work like nothing bad could ever happen. I think it’s a defense mechanism. Works for me!

  14. I hope the Go-Bag thing is a joke – is it? Never heard of such a thing.

    I’ve not been to Afghanistan but I’ve been to Pakistan. It’s a good place. Good people. Just like me and you. You walk the streets and you don’t see the crazy, not really. You don’t see the nutjobs. They don’t often come out. When they do, it’s news, I know it is. But it’s not what those places are all about, not close. I remember Pakistan and northern India very fondly, they were magical places in many way.

    • As I’ve stated in the above comments, I think Go Bags are a bit of an overreaction. It’s corporations trying to do the right thing. I appreciate their efforts but it’s all pissing in the wind. This stuff isn’t going to save you.

      Have you written any posts about visiting Pakistan? I’d be interested in reading about it. I, like many others, tend to compartmentalize. I reduce everyone to a nice, neat stereotype. It isn’t fair and I will double my efforts to keep from doing it again in the future.

      • Not really, I suck at writing about my life. I never know what to say. It shouldn’t be that hard, but it seems to be.

        I dunno, all I can say is that it’s a place like any other. At times, you could easily be in Toronto or Sacramento or something when you’re there… at other times, it’s just poor and broken. But people smile, they work for each other, there are kids running about, even as some of the girls are held back from school and occasionally you see someone in a ditch. It’s a human place. It is.

      • Your reluctance (inability? what’s the right word?) to write about your personal experiences is a bloody shame because I’ll bet there’s a vein of gold just below the surface.

        I wish I could travel there. Hell…I wish I could travel anyplace that exotic. But my life is structured in such a way that I’ll be lucky to go anywhere outside the tri-state area anytime soon. Pity, innit?

  15. “What causes such long-term societal stagnation?”

    I would guess inbreeding. The arab world has a very high cousin marriage rate and I believe afghanistan is around 50%. Add to this a stringent social stratification that borders on a caste system and there isn’t much chance to diversify the species.

    I don’t want to strike fear in your heart, but that go bag looks pretty useless. You might as well bring everything home for your daughters to play with. Remember when parachute sales went up after 9/11?

    As far as the go bag’s predominance, my husband works in NJ and doesn’t have one, fwiw.

    • Inbreeding is the same problem the royal family in England had for generations. It’s that funny? England had a stringent caste system as well, but they rose above being a primitive society.

      The Go Bag isn’t useless if you’re working very late, can’t get away from your desk and you’re starving, thirsty and chilly. Otherwise, I’m afraid I’d have to agree with you.

      That’s a hell of a commute for your husband. I realize it’s a reverse-commute but it still sounds unpleasant.

      • Historically yes, but recently they’ve been interbreeding with commoners like Diana and Kate which should bolster the blue blood dna.

        His commute actually isn’t bad, thankfully.

      • Yes, the modern monarchy has cleaned thing up nicely. I’m talking about back in Richard III’s time. What a mess.

        Glad to hear he’s got the commuting thing licked. It’s an astonishing time and soul-sucking experience. Hours up on hours I’ll never get back.

      • The modern commute is really just a tragic thing. People have to live ages away from their jobs so their children can have a decent education. Urbanity may offer employment but it doesn’t offer good schools– except for the rich.

  16. I’m pissed.
    I just came from Trent’s blog.

    Dude, you DO NOT for real, show up in my reader. My reader is fucked! I miss out on a lot of posts. Besides you and Trent, I missed the last 4 posts from You Monsters Are People. Until I saw him on facebook, I thought he died and had his face eaten by cats.

    I don’t know about that Go bag. I’m not sure anything in there would have been any use to me during 9/11. But the glow sticks would have been a fun distraction.

    I do miss the cheap tawdry NY. I was just there earlier today. I suppose the post-Giuliani NY is safer, but remember all the cool porn shops on 42nd street? Where’s a girl supposed to get her porn?

      • I got mugged a couple of times and I don’t miss that shit. It’s something that stays with you a long, long time. Lots of sleepless nights staring at the ceiling coming up with revenge fantasies. Phooey. Who needs it? Disney is the lesser of two evils. But I really DO miss three-card monte. Do you remember those dudes?

      • I had a dopy friend from Ohio visiting and I BEGGED him not to get involved but he did anyway and OF COURSE he got fleeced out of $60. And that’s when we were just kids and $60 meant something.

      • I know! We laugh like hell about it today. What are kids today going to laugh about when they’re older? That time they paid $350 to see The Book of Mormon?

        Click on that URL I referenced in my response to Samara. Get ready to weep as well.

      • That’s what I mean!

        I loved that honky tonk quality of certain areas. I was in the East Village today, and the gentrification of that area almost made me cry.

      • It’s the Duane Reades and McDonalds that have sprung up in that part of town that scare me the most.
        The personality is being leached out of the neighborhoods. (Though we had a blast walking around all day yesterday.)

    • I don’t know what the glitch could be. Are you using WordPress or a third party reader? I use Feedly and it’s sure-fire. I don’t miss a thing. Monsters Are People is consistently hysterical and I’d be pissed if I missed out.

      As if any of that shit in the Go Bag would save you if the building came down. It’s a nice thought but, please.

      You were in the city today!? Nice day for it. I went to a big street fair in Red Bank. They roasted a pig on a grill. Deliciouso.

      • Today was a gorgeous day for the city! I met with my college BFF, and we had brunch at the Cornerstone Cafe. She picked it – it was actually very good!

        I’m using WordPress follow button. Is Feedly an email notification service? I’m getting annoyed with the glitches. There are certain people whose posts I look forward to.

        Roast pig. Yum. Was it an art fair? I remember going to a bit outdoor art fair in Red Bank last spring. Fun, but really crowded.

      • Some art. Some food. Some music. Some socks. Some aluminum siding. Some gutters. Some Two River Theater tickets. Some pet supplies. The usual. Wonderful. Wait until you see the picture of this pig I’m going to post later this week. Some will salivate. Some will heave.

  17. I’ve never heard of a Go Bag, but it’s a great idea! I have a “ready, set, go” bag (my grandmother introduced me to this notion when I was a kid). It’s basically all the toiletries a person needs to get through a few days – so if you decide to bail out of town for the weekend all you have to do is toss in a couple of t-shirts and jeans and you’re out – win! Also, I didn’t know you and El Guapo work together – super cool!

    • Your “ready, set, go” bag sound like just the thing to escape the law and begin an exciting adventure on the lam. No way granny intended that, right?

      We don’t work together. We just happen to work in the SAME BUILDING, but for different companies. How weird is that?! Manhattan is a big place! We stumbled across that factoid accidentally. We could have ridden up in the elevator together and have never known it.

      • It’s totally possible for anyone in my family to be on the lam at any time haha. So cool that y’all work in the same building. It’s a small world, but I wouldn’t want to paint it : )

  18. I can see why employers might hand out Go Bags in New York. I wonder if it happens in any other city. I can’t even keep up emergency supplies at my house. I’ll get a few canned goods together and then end up using them. Kind of like your glow sticks. I’m horrible at that kind of planning. Hey can I get your posts sent via email? I always miss your posts. I want to put an end to that.

    • Go Bags were a much bigger deal right after 9/11. I’ll bet if you take an informal survey, most people will have forgotten all about them. At this point, they seem like a quaint idea from another era.

      I’m pretty sure if you click any of the follow buttons littered all over my site, you’ll get an email. Do you use WordPress for your reader? Just click the blue “follow on WordPress” button up on the right and that should do it.

  19. Our family has go bags, plus a well-stocked survival kit for the house, tubs to take in the van if we’re bugging out emergency kits and crates for the pets. We’re like paranoid nuts minus guns and tinfoil hats. Ours aren’t bright red, though — they’re less for ‘caught in the rubble’ and more for ‘GTFO OUT OF DODGE NOW’. Reminds me we should recycle anything in them that expires, so it’s fresh tins, meds, etc.

    • If we’re all this paranoid, what was it like for London during the blitz when the Germans were raining bombs down on their asses on a daily basis? We’re kind of soft, I think.

      I have to mention that I think ‘Catastrophe Jones’ is maybe the best blog handle I’ve ever seen. It’s got a kind of dark, poetic panache. Well done. Get that shit copyrighted.

      • I suppose I’d have to agree with you there, and be glad we’re somewhat able to be so soft.

        Also — Thank you. The book’s copyrighted, so I suppose it’s mine already.

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