I’ve decided to start a new ongoing process series for the blog. Allow me to explain. Having finally finished watching “White Collar” and scrapped my plans to become an international art thief (I don’t like traveling, or stealing stuff, and I found out those were job requirements) I searched through The Roku Channel to see if there was anything I would like to watch next. I resisted the urge to go completely retro, as The Roku Channel seems like having the ability to stream Nick at Night, and I found the thing that I actually wanted to watch. If you read the title of this blog post, you already know it was “Hoarders.”
I’ve often joked (sort of not joked) that I’m a borderline hoarder. In fact, it turns out that this is the exact episode of “Hoarders” that I often point to as evidence that I’m not. I explain to my many skeptical friends that the reason I’m not a hoarder is because I don’t freeze yogurt to get another year of storage time out of it. That’s only part of the reason though.
The truth is that unlike many of the people featured on “Hoarders,” I actually really enjoy selling and/or disposing of things. Where I start facing the not quite hoarder – pack rat at the very worst – side of my nature is that I have to dispose of things on my terms. As an example, I’m a compulsive recycler. I was listening to a video with Simon Whistler recently and he spoke about how once his recycle bin was full he wouldn’t save recyclable stuff separately for next week. I do that.
When the city first implemented their recycling program, we were given a rectangular bin the size of a large storage tub. Luckily, now we have the large trash can shaped type, which holds a little more. I used to holdover recyclable stuff from week to week to week when we had the smaller bin, and I would eventually be rewarded with a slow week of recyclable trash. When that would happen, I would pat myself on the back knowing that I didn’t waste half the recycling space we were allotted.
I realize that example may not fully justify my assertion that I’m not a hoarder, but I will point out that of the two subjects of “Hoarders” Season One, Episode One would be unable to claim as much. The family wasn’t quite as bad off. They suffered from a lack of organization. I may not always eat at the kitchen table, but I don’t eat in bed for lack of any other available space. The single woman was the one who was simply unable to throw anything away, including rotted fruit.
I think part of the reason why I like this show is because it is just as much of a motivator as any self help that I consume to get me in motion. I threw a lot of stuff away during the commercials while watching this episode, and I got the recycling in order while I was at it. I see myself in these people, and I want to push in the opposite direction.
With the family, it was a combination of her compulsive shopping and his inability to see that most of the stuff he had collected was the physical manifestation of dead projects. He saved much of the stuff with the intention of doing something with it one day, and then never got around to doing it. Ask Nathan about the super-mega-obsolete computer we will build one day. I know that his refusal to get started on the project is partially disinterest, but it may also be his attempt to save me from myself. In this case, it will not work. I just want to acknowledge that I acknowledge it though (sorry, I’d hoarded a bunch of “acknowledge” and I saw an opportunity to offload some of it).
I do acknowledge expiration dates, and I do throw stuff away, unlike the woman in the other segment. I get her issues though. I have a tendency to load up on stuff while it’s on sale, and I’ll admit that sometimes I find myself overdoing it. The one that I have to watch myself on is that I’ll buy stuff that is marked down because it only has a few days left before the expiration date. There’s nothing wrong with this, except that I sometimes grab too much of it which means that my intent to not let something go to waste instead causes me to waste it.
I wrote recently about stocking up three to six months of food and supplies, and I still stand by that belief. Just make it dry goods that you use frequently and rotate it constantly to avoid having green beans that should have been eaten years ago. And this goes back to the point of organization. Hoarding is often blamed on a fear of scarcity and poverty, but I think it’s sometimes something else.
The woman with the rotting fruit simply failed to plan her meals. She would find that she was way less wasteful if she had three or four weekly meals that used certain dry goods which she regularly stocked and rotated, and if she had a limit on how much perishable food she could have at any time. The man in the family had too many “I’ll do something with it” projects. He accumulated before planning rather than planning and then accumulating.
This all relates to an odd problem that some of us have, which is the inability to understand just how much abundance there really is. It really is sometimes ok to throw away some yogurt and buy some more if you promise yourself not to overbuy next time. It really is ok to throw out the laptop that you’ve had for a decade now… I mean not this one. I still get a lot of use out of this as my writing laptop. I don’t need RAM or an operating system that can safely navigate the internet for that. Anyway, here’s some video for you.
Chris McGinty, Borderline Hoarder – Episode One
As with my previous ongoing process series (which may not be that interesting if I’m being honest), I’m going to keep my word count to a certain level each week. This means that the timeline might not match up with when I’m actually doing all this stuff. In fact, that first video was recorded on March 24, 2021, and I’ve made some progress since then, but I’ll probably limit these “episodes” to one each week. So there will be delay from when I write and record and when I post.
Chris McGinty is a borderline blogger who didn’t get too wet when he left storage that night.