I’m on my hands and knees under my computer desk holding the phone against my ear with my shoulder, while Mr. Patient Technical Support Guy waits for me to determine if my modem is plugged in. I sincerely hope it is. You feel foolish when a repairman tells you equipment isn’t working because it’s not plugged in. I do anyway.
But determining if our modem is unplugged is harder than you’d think. Turns out there’s a jungle behind my home computer; a tangle of cords connecting hard drive, printer, speakers, monitor, keyboard, lamp, power strip, telephone, electric mixer, coffeemaker, and blender. Yes, I’mexaggerating; we don’t own a coffeemaker.
Starting at the modem, I try to follow the cord to the power strip, but three times I get lost in the tangle and have to start over. Then I bump my head, drop the phone, and swear out loud before remembering the call is being monitored for quality control purposes. I finally determine that the cord is indeed plugged in. Mr. Patient Technical Support Guy says, “I figured that would be too easy.” Easy?
It turns out that the jungle behind my computer is only slightly worse than the jungle in front of and to the sides of my computer. Shortly after we replace the modem, my husband and I decide our home office and our guest room should trade places. The thought of unplugging all those cords behind the computer and plugging them in elsewhere is as appealing to me as carrying my four-drawer filing cabinet down two flights of stairs. So I ask my husband to do it.
I go to work in the corner beside the computer. We gave away our first few computers years ago, but we’ve maintained a shrine to them, made up of all their manuals, operating discs, cords, and miscellaneous accessories. If the people we gave the computers to can get along without all that this long, I think we can too.
After clearing out the shrine, I start in on the filing cabinet and desk. It seems to me that before we can move them, it would be wise to clean them off, file what must be filed, and toss what can be tossed. That includes coupons for products I don’t use, bills that were paid long ago and warranties for items I’m not sure we even own any more.
I can’t throw any piece of paper away without the nagging feeling that I or the IRS may need it again, though why the IRS will need a receipt from my car’s last oil change, I’m not sure.
I can’t get my shredder to work so I start tearing documents into tiny pieces then I sprinkle them into separate trash cans, including the kitchen trash where they’ll soon be covered in egg shells and leftover Spaghettios. Hopefully that will deter identity thieves from stealing what’s left of my life savings.
Speaking of life savings, my financial life is more complicated than it is successful. My husband, son and I bank at three different banks; and each one has changed names at least once, without our permission or input. Several different investment companies hold our retirement and college savings. And all of these have been sold, or for other reasons changed their names, some more than once. The ensuing confusion has led to lackadaisical filing in our home. Well, something has led to lackadaisical filing in our home, and that’s what I prefer to blame it on.
I wade through this disaster before taking on the various knick-knacks and thing-a-ma-jigs sitting around the office. I find it easier to give things away rather than throw them away. So I pack all but a few into boxes to be donated to someone who will probably throw them all away for me.
In the end, we give away three boxes of stuff, throw away two bags of junk, and put away the rest. Now I have room for a new shredder.
(Dorothy Rosby is the author of the humor book, I Used to Think I Was Not That Bad and Then I Got to Know Me Better. Contact email@example.com.)
Home office; a jungle of wires, accessories