© 2009 by Angie Ruark
Everywhere I go, I am surrounded by paper. As I go, I collect it. It’s everywhere: in my house, my car, and purse. This is not something I do on purpose, it’s just a part of life. It really builds up quickly too. So quickly, I can barely keep up. And now I have reached that time of the year where I have to go through all of the boxes of paper I have been collecting in my bedroom (and my purse.) What usually happens when I do this is I sort through it all, find a thing or two I didn’t know I was missing, and then end up transferring the paper to a new container and putting it in a different spot in my bedroom than it was before. I enjoy this for a few reasons. First, I feel pretty good that I found that “long lost to do list I made for myself” two years ago. Second, I went through all the stuff I had boxed up so I know where to find important pieces of paper when I need them. And third, I get a sense of having re-decorated my room since I moved the box somewhere else. What would be really great is if it was actually just one box. It’s not. This year, it’s more than one (but I won’t say how many!)
But this is not my fault! I am too worried about identity theft to throw anything away. So I have to shred everything. Which would be fine if I had time to do it. It takes about fifteen minutes of every day to shred all the receipts and credit card offers we get on a daily basis. Who has that kind of time? I am not even counting the extra time it takes to unplug the shredder, go get a fork, and pry out the jammed wads of paper that clog my shredder every few pages. So as my busy days zoom by, I toss things in a “to shred” box and I put things to file in a “to file” box. Ok, actually, they are plastic grocery bags most of the time and I stack them up in a laundry basket. This is because the envelopes always tear the bags so when I pick one up to sort through it, all the papers and envelopes fall out. I love this. Nothing makes my day more than picking up a bag I didn’t really want to look at let alone touch, only to have all of its contents spill everywhere. Especially receipts. Those are my absolute favorite. I particularly enjoy how long my grocery store ones are. And how I get more than one with every purchase. This gives me more shredding to do at home. Fun! My sixteen year old son offered to make a bonfire in the backyard to get rid of it all at once but I said, “NOOOOO!” This wasn’t because of the fact that we are not allowed to burn inside city limits, but because I had conjured up this image of a receipt being propelled aloft by the flames, getting caught on the wind, and floating lazily away into the greedy paws of an identity thief!! Yikes! Then what? I do NOT want to end up working in that piratey-fish food restaurant like in the commercial. So I tell my son that it is a great but impossible idea. He can, however, burn some in the grill. He’s satisfied and so am I. We can put a lid on the grill so no receipts will fly away.
So here I am on the kitchen floor, sitting on a pillow because the floor is cold and hard, in the middle of a circle made of my shredder, the radio (gotta have something to listen to during all this!), an actual box this time for “to file” papers (which, by the way, is a whole other matter I don’t want to get into), the inevitable grocery bag for the newly named “to grill” papers, a garbage bag to really throw some things away this time, and some stacks of things that ended up with these papers that don’t belong, like a dollar bill, a two year old Christmas gift card that I hope I can still use, an earring, and some photos that make me look fat.
My purse is also part of this process because it is a receipt abyss. I know exactly how Mary Poppins felt when she dug through her bottomless carpet-bag. Only my purse is a bottomless receipt receptacle. I am amazed at how much you can actually cram in there. I am glad to be cleaning out my purse finally because it gets embarrassing to have to look through it when I am out in public. I try not to let people hear the paper crinkling and crackling as I dig and dig and dig to find my pen or my keys, but I know they can hear it. I also try to angle myself so they can’t catch a glimpse inside. No matter what I do, though, a tell-tale receipt will jump out with anything else I grab. So much paper! I think it would be easy to find me if I were ever lost in a forest- just follow my trail!
You may be wondering why I am taking on a project of this magnitude at this time of year. This is simply to begin to get ready to do another one of my favorite things- taxes!