I recently cleaned out my sock drawer, an overdue task that I hadn’t reached the appropriate level of boredom to tackle in a number of years. It also served as a reminder that I’m absolutely terrible at estimating just how useful a range of items will be in the future.
The top drawer of the walnut chest where my socks reside also has a habit of collecting an assortment of other items — loose change, notes on scraps of paper, cable clamps, buttons, stray ammunition — that either fell from the flat surface above or were “temporarily” stored for later.
There’s also a closet, basement, garage, shed and the center console of my truck holding valuable artifacts of various usefulness. I know I’m not alone in this affliction because the desire to stow away has a cherished history in my family. The paternal side at least.
If we had a family crest, “I’m going to use that someday,” would be the motto imprinted on it. I should note it’s entirely possible there is a crest stuffed in the bottom of a box somewhere just waiting to be rediscovered.
At the ranch, there were two very useful storage areas. The first was a set of cubbies inside that held maybe a ton of washers, nuts, bolts and other odds and ends. The lack of organization didn’t make it efficient, but if you needed a connecter, you’d find a suitable one eventually. Out back was the scrap pile of old oil pipe and steel plate that came in handy for all sorts of building and repair projects.
Upstairs was another story, however. The loft was stuffed with the “maybe someday” stuff stockpiled with leaner times in mind. Tires that had long since dry rotted, rusted rims, a crosscut saw with broken handles and other outdated tools.
I know those items were squirreled away with the best of intentions. On farms and ranches, it makes a good deal of sense to have a stockpile when the nearest hardware store is an hour roundtrip. The number of things that can go wrong is nearly limitless.
My hoarding habits are more about learned behavior than utility. Living in a 50-year-old home means I frequent the two nearby hardware stores enough to have memorized their layouts. It’s usually faster to find a given item at the store than it is to search my basement, garage or shed.
There’s a different satisfaction that comes from completing a project with that one item you saved long ago for the right occasion. It’s proof you were right. For me, though, that’s become an infrequent occurrence.
I don’t know precisely when something in storage loses its intended purpose and becomes junk, but I know it happens without warning. The rational part of me understands I should save far less stuff and significantly reduce the time I spend cleaning up clutter in the future.
After discarding a significant amount of junk from my sock drawer, including several actual pairs of socks, I still slid two aging cellphones into my dresser drawer. Everything of value on them has been transferred to my current phone, but each one would work if I really needed a replacement.
Will I ever use them again? Not likely. But they’re there if I want to use them someday.