Why was that there?

By Steve Estes

Strictly Drivel

Now that summer seems to be coming up on us before many of us realized it was here, it’s time to spend a few minutes cleaning out the dreaded junk drawer in my desk.

This is a task that I do faithfully at least once a year, whether it needs it or not, and spend all the time required to do it right (it takes too long to pull the darn thing from the guide rails and just tip it into the trash can, so I have to physically pull everything out).

Let’s see here, what is this scrap note? Oh yeah, that’s the one to remind myself of a meeting somewhere. I probably would have been there if I had remembered to look in the junk drawer for scraps.

OK. This pile I need. It’s a collection of miscellaneous phone numbers, most of which I have either memorized or forgotten why I needed, but since I know my memory is slipping, I write them down on little scraps of paper and place them all in the same pile inside the junk drawer. See, who says there isn’t organization in chaos? Now if I could just figure out why there are four or five copies of each scrap.

Ugh. Let’s get that one in the trash can in a hurry. I guess I didn’t finish my candy bar one day. Maybe that’s why the ants have created a gated golf course community deep in the back recesses of my junk drawer.

Hey, there’s that map I was looking for when we went to Miami a few months back. Guess I could have saved myself the embarrassment of stopping at the gas station to ask for directions.

Yep. There they are. Every year I find the registration cards for every piece of computer hardware we’ve had to replace over the course of the year. They’re all filled out (with legible handwriting) tucked neatly into their reply envelopes, and stashed here in the bottom of the junk drawer. The warranties are already expired before I send off the registration cards.

“Remember to feed the dogs,” says this note here. It’s Holly’s handwriting. I’m sure I took care of it. I do remember seeing three puppies this morning when I left the house. I had to have taken care of it. The date on the back of the scrap is sometime in March. If I hadn’t taken care of it, I wouldn’t have seen three puppies when I left this morning right? Maybe I’ll count again and compare pictures when I get home.

Hey, there’s that funky little screwdriver I use to tighten my glasses when they come loose at the temples. Leave that there. Next year, it’ll probably make it to the bottom of the drawer. Then I can use the wifely method of spring cleaning. If I haven’t seen it in a year, or used it in a year, it can be thrown out.

Notes for stories I thought I might need to write and didn’t….deposit in the round file. Pictures from someone, depicting something I don’t remember happening, in a location I’m at a loss to identify. Round file. Perhaps the donor will remember next time that I don’t know every face, and that a few words of explanation on the back of the photo probably would have resulted in better placement than the confines of the junk drawer.

Hey, there’s the bag of potato chips I went and got to munch on late one night while fighting a deadline. Since I’m not sure which night that was, or how long ago that night might have been, round file is probably the best place to go with this thing.

Batteries? Why do I have 9-volt batteries in my junk drawer? They only work in the kid’s remote control…oh wait…that’s why. They only work in the kid’s remote control devices. No batteries, no hopping around trying to keep my poor battered feet from being battered even more.

If there are two things I can be absolutely sure of in this world, it’s one; that one of the grandkids will step on my feet at some point in the day, and two; that one of the dogs will jump on my feet at some point during the night.

I have no toe nails due to accidents on two toes, so stomping on my feet is very painful. I also have had a broken baby toe for going on 20 years that stays broken because either the grandkids or the dogs are constantly stomping on my feet.

Why do I have these velcro straps? I think I’m supposed to bundle computer wires with them to keep the wires from looking nasty, at least I remember Holly telling me something about that in the dim recesses of my addled brain. But if the straps made it to the junk drawer, they were never coming out again.

Even if I put the straps on my desk, I would have to rely on my failing memory to remember why they were on my desk.

Doesn’t really seem worth the effort at this point.

While this process usually takes me on a walk down memory lane, it also serves to bring me to the realization that I’m not the world’s most organized person. For many years, I have relied on my memory to organize myself. As I get older, that gets harder and harder to do. Just such a realization forced me to create my junk drawer many years ago. Now, as I see the sad evidence pouring out in front of me into the trash can, I must realize that the old junk drawer is no longer sufficient. I’ll have to come up with something else.

If I could just remember why I’m supposed to stay organized. No scraps of paper in the junk drawer to tell me.

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