Alan Weiss’s Monday Morning Memo® – 12/04/2023
Let’s be honest. We’re all “hoarders” to some extent. Most of you have “junk drawers” or garages crammed with things or closets bulging with unidentifiable objects. And they aren’t objets d’art.
I’m going to be square with you and differentiate what you have under your bed, in storage areas, in the car trunks. Some is “stuff” (with apologies to George Carlin) and some is “crap.” “What is the difference?” you might well ask. I’m glad you did.
If you lose some of your stuff, you’re unhappy and eventually will realize it’s gone. If you lose some of your crap, you are completely ignorant of the loss. There are tests for this.
If you examine the massive items lurking in the storage of your life, you’ll inevitabley find something unrecognizable. You’ll ask, “What on earth is this?” Your spouse or kids may point out, from faded directions, “It’s a pet turtle feeder.” “But I haven’t had pet turtles since I was six, Cisco and Calamity Jane.”
My wife mistakenly purchased vegetable juice, which I find the equivalent of liquid kale, instead of the tomato juice I drink. I suggested we toss the two bottles. “NO!” she said, “we’ll give it away.” She was going to give it to our church drive, forgot to take it, and it will be in the fridge until even its expiry date has passed (2516) and our great, great grandchildren will be wondering why we were saving it. Could there be money in the bottom?
My son saw a bowling ball bag underneath my suits on a closet floor. “What is THAT?” he asked. “Why would you have a bowling ball??!!” Well, because I bowled every week in high school, averaged 180 and once had a 240 game. The ball isn’t hurting anyone sitting there on the floor, is it? (I don’t think the zipper works any more, so I don’t try to open it.)
We occasionally may find a use for stuff, but never for crap. And most of this will decay, expire, be lost, be eaten by insects, or be misplaced—underneath other crap. Some people actually try to leave crap out on the curb (which the garbage collectors won’t touch) hoping for a special, annual pickup by the town. That pickup day was usually a day earlier.
Often crap is light and mobile. I still see people with ski lift tickets on their jackets for Stowe from 2016. Then there are the receipts stuffed in pockets for clothing already picked up, or lost, or forgotten about. And there’s the crap that seems worthy of being stuff: All those chargers and connections and wires with odd gadgets on the ends, the detritus of the electronic age.
“I may need this,” you think. Sure, if you can ever find a working 8-track player and tapes that haven’t corroded. And if you still choose to listen to The Yardbirds, The Strangeloves, and disco.
A lot of our stuff we can’t bear to throw out, we can’t give away, but we have no practical use for. Once the stuff crosses that Rubicon, it becomes crap
A house is just a pile of stuff with a cover on it. And when you leave your house, you gotta lock it up. Wouldn’t want somebody to come by and take some of your stuff. They always take the good stuff. They never bother with that crap you’re saving. All they want is the shiny stuff. That’s what your house is, a place to keep your stuff while you go out and get….more stuff! —George Carlin