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Nothing’s changed since Pack Rat Day back in May

August 30, 2009
By SANDY MICKELSON, Messenger staff writer

OK, now there's proof I'm not alone in this uncontrollable urge to keep almost everything I ever touched.

That's almost everything. Some things I offed with considerable quickness - I just don't like to talk about them.

Back in May my e-mail brought in a message from a woman named Maureen Cahill on behalf of a company called Smead, a provider of filing and organizational products.

"National Pack Rat Day is Sunday, May 17," she wrote way back then, adding that she had in her possession a survey that has "found there is a little pack rat in many of us." More than 70 percent of those responding to the survey said they needed help getting organized.

Granted, a company selling organizational products would push a survey talking about pack rats, but aside from that, they hit a nerve. Even when she wrote that the survey found a third of the population is holding onto things longer because of the economy, I remained focused on the fact that more than 30 percent of the respondents reported they discard things only when it becomes overwhelming.

Like if you can't walk through the basement any longer or you've got to clean off the bed in your attic room because someone's coming to stay. Now, that's overwhelming.

The survey, she said, uncovered reasons behind a person's disorganization, claiming 28 percent don't know what to keep and what to get rid of, 28 percent don't like to throw anything away, 26 percent don't have time to set up an organizational system and 18 percent don't have a system that works for them.

She didn't say anything about not liking change, so add me to the group who don't like to throw anything away.

I've tried doing that, really I have. It takes a concerted effort, of course, but I have tried. Had I time enough to gut my house when I'm in a tossing mood, I wouldn't now be considered one of the world's prize pack rats. Thank heaven I never have enough time.

My theory is simple. Once I throw something away, I'll need it within days. Sometimes immediately. I've been known to grab something back out of the trash on that premise alone, which leaves me faced with the question "Where do I put this?"

Good friends have offered to go through my boxes and get rid of stuff, but, doggone it, I can't be forced to decide on the fate of an old kitchen witch or a round velvet pillow in a matter of minutes while this well-meaning friend watches me groan and squirm. I'm much more inclined to accept the offer of people who have said they'd move boxes for me if I needed.

But where would I move them? Simply moving them from one side of the basement to the other - if you could get through the piles of stuff between the sides - just doesn't make sense. We should be upstairs playing farkle rather than trying to clean a basement that doesn't really want to be cleaned.

Now, if Smead sends me a thousand organizational boxes, maybe I'd have something to go on.

So long friends, until the next time when we're together.

Contact Sandy Mickelson at (515) 573-2141 or



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