Hello, my name is Norman and I’m a hoarder.
Yes, that’s right. I keep everything…no, I mean EVERYTHING. Being a hoarder at work isn’t so bad, though. While others struggle to keep up with work orders, invoices, and emails, I have kept everything since I began working there almost seven years ago. I quit that job about two weeks ago and I tried to give all that stuff to my boss. I’m sure he threw it in the trash…
I still have a few shirts left from high school. They don’t fit me anymore and I’ll never get back into them. Who are we kidding, right? That was twenty years ago. I still long for my black leather motorcycle jacket and the Vanilla Ice pin on the lapel. I loved that jacket. There was also my denim jacket with the Metallica back-patch from my heavy metal days.
It’s not only about emotional attachments to material things. There are other items, like bills or cancelled checks (who even has those anymore?) that I’m afraid to shred. I may need to prove I paid a bill in August of 2004. It doesn’t seem to matter to me that the company has changed its name several times and I’m no longer a customer. I have boxes of stuff in the attic, I’m not even sure what’s in there. I don’t want to throw anything away until I can look through it. Better safe than sorry, I always say.
It’s not my fault, really. No, this is one of those habits we can blame on our parents. Yes, it’s their fault…well, it’s my mother’s fault really. You see, we were poor. Not Oliver Twist poor. We did bathe regularly and we had a microwave. We also had a car that ran…most of the time. So, while we weren’t well-to-do, we weren’t quite near sharing a cardboard box under the bridge. I’ve never had to eat a sardine with a rail-car hobo, so we were doing okay.
Though we didn’t realize our social status, my brother and I had a lot of toys. We were quite wealthy in toys. We could measure our self worth by potato head dolls, die cast metal cars, enough green Army men to conquer a game of Risk and my beloved Millennium Falcon. After my Superman action figure (IT WASN’T A DOLL!!!), the Millennium Falcon was my favorite.
My mother had always felt bad that she couldn’t continue to supply us with new toys, so she devised a plan. A plan so wise, so crafty, that it was bound to work. I was five and my brother was three; it couldn’t fail.
Her plan, you see, was to take all the toys that she didn’t see us playing with and put them in a box. She was betting, due to the short-term memory of young children, we would forget about the toys and would be surprised when she would reveal them at a later time. Of course, she’d confiscate more toys when she cycled the old ones back through.
It was a good plan, at least from her perspective. The only thing was that she didn’t let us know what she was doing. The toys would just appear, only to disappear again. Yes, we were happy to see them when they returned, but not because we had forgotten about them, but because we “found” them! I don’t know how many times my Millennium Falcon was lost and found, then lost, only to be found again.
This is why, to this day, I can’t throw anything away. And if I’ve lost something, I’ll keep looking in the same places over and over, hoping it will return. Of course, it never does, because my mother stopped taking my things many years ago.
I realize this is all nonsense and that I have a serious problem. It’s not really my mother’s fault. It’s not like everything I keep is my favorite, I just can’t seem to part with it. Fortunately, if it were not for my wife, I’d be on one of those reality programs buried under bills and newspapers from 1996.
“Even if it’s neatly stacked,” she would say. “It’s still hoarding.”