Do your clothes rotate from the closet to the hamper to the washer to the dryer, all of which, along with numerous laundry baskets, are full at the same time? Do you buy exercise equipment based solely on its capacity for hanging shirts and pants? Are your cupboard, sink, dish drain, and counter tops full of plates, bowls, glasses, and flatware? Does your dishwasher have a “store” setting? Has your car not seen the inside of your garage since…ever? Then you, my friend, are suffering from TMS–the state of having more stuff than places to put it. This scourge of the 21st century is also known as Too Much Stuff, but you can substitute the S-word of your choice.
Most people in an affluent society have a TMS story. That’s why places like Public Storage are everywhere. Add up all that commercial space plus countless attics, garages, basements, and sheds and you get a lot of storage area for every man, woman, and child in this country.
TMS Strikes Home
Here’s a TMS story from my own life. My wife had garbage bags full of clothes heaped on shelves in our garage. I kept asking her to get rid of them but she’d put me off, saying she “had to go through them.” Whatever that means. “It means,” she said as if she could read my mind, “that there might be something valuable in there.”
How can it be valuable if it’s been languishing in the garage since Clinton was president? If it’s sat for more than a year you will probably never use it again. If it’s sat in the garage longer than that, it’s a good bet that mice and insects have found it very valuable for food and nesting.
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One day while she was at work, I put all those bags in her parking spot and waited for her to come home. AMVETS was coming the next day and the timing was perfect. As the opener lifted the door, I stood arms crossed with the bags at my feet. I could see she wasn’t happy but, to paraphrase Julius Caesar, “the die was cast.” I deemed it a good omen that she didn’t run me over. Or maybe she just didn’t want to chance damaging any of that “valuable” stuff.
Once we got past the initial fight she grudgingly took up the task, reminiscing over every item. She pulled out a toddler outfit and said, “remember when Colleen wore this every day?” I reminded her that Colleen was married and not living here anymore. Then she wistfully held some sheer, lacy thing to her chest with a twinkle in her eye and asked, “Do you remember the night I wore this?” With a brighter twinkle in my eye I said, “I sure do but, c’mon, we both know you’ll never fit in it again.”
By the time I came to, she’d finished the job. Every stitch of old clothing was sorted and packed in plastic bags, ready for AMVETS. All she left on the garage floor was my sleeping bag. I’m not sure why.
It was all worth it. Clothes for children, teens, and adults that had been cluttering up our precious shelf space would soon be on their way to people who would really appreciate them. As an added bonus, I finally had a place to store all my valuable stuff that had been cluttering up my workbench.