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Vernon News

THOMPSON: Junk drawers: No method to my indefensible organizational madness

April 22, 2024 - 12:00 PM



Maybe everyone has that drawer, you know, the one where you stick things because you don’t know where else to put it. I hope - for your sake - you don’t have what I have, multiple drawers.

I have a home in British Columbia and another in Florida. Sadly, that is not why I have multiple drawers…I have multiple drawers in both places…because my organization skills lag behind how much stuff I own…considerably.

In Florida, I have four drawers in our laundry room that are packed with…well, just about everything. There are tools…hopelessly small screwdrivers, hammers…a variety of nails, screws, washers…tape and wires for hanging pictures…a six-inch long level…furniture skids…you name it.

There is little method to my madness…wood screws are in one drawer…sheet metal screws are two drawers away. Sticky pads to hang things on walls…large and small…are in separate drawers. There is a new metal connecting hose for the washing machine in the drawer with the sheet metal screws…metal, I reasoned, is the common denominator.

Every now and then - often when need drives a solution to some problem - I pull open one of the drawers and begin to rummage. I do so with the same anticipation as a pirate plundering a treasure chest.

I almost always find something I misplaced years before…and with some excitement…announce my find to no one in particular. Even the dogs and cats ignore me after casting an eye my way…just in case it’s a treat. Apparently, my tone of voice is similar for both finding stuff I hide…and giving our pets their respective treats.

My problem - and I fear it is growing larger - is that my four drawers in the laundry room in Florida simply aren’t big enough. The stuff that is not significant enough or in large enough numbers to be categorized by my long-failed methods…has crept to other parts of the house.

I now have a drawer in the primary bedroom, two drawers in the console behind the Chesterfield between the dining room and living room…oh, and a closet in a guest bedroom that cleverly, I call my “ironing board” room…because it has an ironing board set up 365 days a year…ready for pressing any of the 100 percent cotton, linen or other wrinkly items I might wear.

If I ask my wife, Bonnie, my organization troubles are even worse than I imagine. She will attest to what we call the tack room in our barn in Florida. It is large…25 feet by 25 feet…and includes a bathroom. It also has a tool bench that looks like a small explosive device might have detonated. The floor has everything from a stationary bicycle to cans of paint to a posthole digger leaning against one corner wall.

In my defence…hell, I have no defence. Bonnie somehow avoids adding to this problem by avoiding the tasks that I do…all things mechanical, electrical, carpentry, plumbing, and so forth. Do not think, however, that she is free of guilt or blame. She has drawers, too, and an armoire that I rarely enter. The last time I checked, these places reminded me of a squirrel’s hiding places for a variety of nuts.

Apparently, I have a difficult time sorting, organizing…or maybe simply getting rid of stuff. In a different but somewhat related vein…I have more than 120,000 emails in my Gmail account. With best of intentions, every six months I sit down and start deleting emails one by one. It’s like watching paint dry…clearly I have waited too long to organize this part of my life, as well.

I hear there is a new email service called You pay $99 a year for an email and calendaring service that prompts you with each message…“Do you want to get Emails from this person?” Maybe that’s what I need. Of course, who’s going through my 120,000 Gmail emails to forward the good ones? What does charge for that…$5,000?

No, at the age of 74, I don’t believe I have a chance. My ratio of stuff to places to store stuff is totally out of whack. I’ve learned to compensate some. If Bonnie asks, “Do you have a small Phillips screwdriver?”…I simply say, “Sure, what do you need? I’ll put it on my list of things to do.”

She seems happy…and then I start thinking…small Phillips screwdriver…where would I have left that? You see, besides squirrelling away stuff…sometimes the Phillips screwdriver is in the room, closet, pool area, car trunk…where I last used it.

If this is my greatest flaw…and I insist that it is…maybe I’ll get by. The way I see it, I’ll eventually be able to blame all of this on some age-appropriate dementia. Meanwhile, whatever gizmo or gadget Bonnie needs…well, I probably have it. If I can’t find it, I just say, “It’s at the other house.”

— Don Thompson, an American awaiting Canadian citizenship, lives in Vernon and in Florida. In a career that spans more than 40 years, Don has been a working journalist, a speechwriter and the CEO of an advertising and public relations firm. A passionate and compassionate man, he loves the written word as much as fine dinners with great wines.

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