Tuesday, November 24, 2009


I keep everything. It's in my blood; my dad always kept everything, too. He'd go to second-hand shops, buy up what they had, and stow it around the house. He loved utility; he kept everything that might one day be useful. He had great faith in that future use. He never threw anything away.

I'm trying to break myself of that habit. Tonight I cleared out our flatware drawer of all the junk that was in there. Goodbye, college forks with cracked plastic parts. So long, knives that only cut our fingers as we reach for the good ones. Adios grimy flatware organizer. Why did I keep you so long?

There was just one thing in all my life that my dad didn't keep. In college I bought a black studded leather wallet with a chain attached to a black leather loop. It had Northwestern's seal on it, and I always thought that was incongruous and funny. And you know, it was college. And all that. So anyway, I wore it in my back pocket, with the chain hooked up to my front belt loop. When I got up to my first job, in the Pacific Northwest, it went with the ensemble.

And then I got this job at The Pilot. And for some reason, I decided that maybe I should not wear a wallet with a chain hooked to my front pocket here. And as I mused that aloud one evening, my dad ran to the kitchen, got pliers, and unchained the thing. And then he ran back, and threw the chain right into the garbage. Just like that. I was shocked. It went against almost everything I knew about him. I mean, it could have been really useful one day! I think he was just afraid I'd change my mind.

I thought of this last week when, for the second time since I started my new job, I had to call V., our office manager, and ask her to look around my desk to see if my wallet was there. And for the second time, it wasn't. I was in my car, heading to lunch with a friend. My wallet, it turns out, was chilling at the restaurant equipment shop where I'd picked up flatware for the office (no more plasticware for work functions! Yes!) that morning. 

So when I got back to the office, all sheepish, V. said, "You really should get a chain on that thing."

If only she knew.

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