I realize that calling myself a “small-scale hoarder” is in itself an oxymoron. After all, pop culture tends to associate hoarding with reality TV shows that depict a typically sad, lonely, isolated person with mounds and mounds of stuff. I do not hoard on that level; in fact, people who know me think I’m the exact opposite of a pack rat. Over the years, there’s been a running joke in my family that if you can’t find something around the house, check the trash because I probably threw it away; it’s true, I strongly dislike clutter.
But at the same time, I hate throwing something away when I think it may still have a little bit of life left in it. Case in point: the story of my 13-year-old razor I shared on this site. Why did I refuse to throw that razor away? Because it still worked, and as long as it got the job done, I wasn’t going to part with it.
When my family moved earlier this summer – a move that took us several states and hundreds of miles away from our old home – I came face to face with my small-scale hoarding problem. (An important FYI here: my husband suffers from the same malady, but our ideas of what constitutes an object worth saving are completely different, as you’ll notice in the following paragraphs.) Here are just a few examples of the oddball and even comical things we found while cleaning out our attic for the new move:
- Every cable and power cord we’ve ever come across. My husband’s small-scale hoarding applies largely to electronics and tools. What was so wacky about these items was that half the cords he had stashed away were for gadgets we’d discarded years ago.
- Construction paper that had only been used on one side. My two kids are notorious for starting a coloring project and then abandoning it halfway through. The result? We’ve got tons and tons of paper that’s only been lightly colored on one side, but is perfectly clear on the other. Yes, I’d stashed away a whole bunch of this paper in a filing cabinet.
- A broken patio chair. Sure, it wasn’t in perfect condition, but I always thought I’d be able to pull it out of the bowels of our garage if we had a big party and needed extra seating; after all, the only part of the chair that was broken was one of the back panels, so as long as you didn’t lean back, it was perfectly good to sit on…
- A set of eight brand new double shot glasses. My husband and I drink beer and wine. That’s it; I can count on two fingers the number of times we’ve had spirits in our house over the eight years of our marriage. Yet, we’ve held on to a set of double shot glasses we got as a wedding gift, never so much as taking them out of the box. “We should keep these,” I tell my husband every time he suggests selling them at a garage sale. I guess you never know when you’ll need a good, stiff, over-sized drink.
- All the ribbons and medals I earned on the swim team… 20 years ago. Back in my day, I was a pretty awesome competitive swimmer. Today, I am a pretty awesome hoarder of all the awards I won during that time. Not only do I have ever ribbon and medal I ever won (we’re talking shoeboxes and shoeboxes full), I’ve also got the program from every swim meet I ever entered. This “collection” is priceless to me, because it’s a detailed catalog of my times from those races. Of course, I could simply turn that into an Excel spreadsheet and save myself the extra room, but where would that be the fun in that?
- My husband’s old work boots. As a police officer, my husband goes through a lot of boots. Yet, he insists on saving each pair even after he’s busted a hole in the toe. I can’t complain too much about that, though: I’ve saved every pair of flip-flops I’ve worn since college, claiming they are great to throw on “to get the mail.”
- Wire hangers. Joan Crawford may have maligned wire hangers in the mid-century classic film Mommie Dearest, but I haven’t tossed one in years. While I definitely prefer to hang my family’s clothes on plastic hangers, the metal ones from the dry cleaner’s come in handy in a pinch.
Perhaps the funniest thing about my hoarding is that, like a true hoarder, I couldn’t bear to part with these items. My husband and I loaded them up in our moving truck and headed off to our new home, where they’re now happily ensconced in the bowels of our basement’s storage area.
What items do you have a tough time throwing away, even though you know you should?