Lessons From a Shredding Machine: Things I have learned about myself

For the past three days, it has been me, a U-Haul box (size Medium) filled to bursting with papers, and a shredder.

I shred and I shred and I shred.

Then the machine overheats and stops shredding. Then I go back into our under-house storage and pull out another box, bag or whatever and go through it until the shredder cools off.

Then I start shredding again.

Today, as I got down to the bottom third of the box of papers, I was sucked into a time warp. I was pulling out bills and correspondence dating back to 1999.

That’s 12 years ago. Twelve-year-old documents. Twelve years is both a very long time and yet a mere blip in the world.

It has been quite an archeological journey through the strata of one medium size U-Haul box.

Here’s a few things I’ve learned along the way:

1. For the most part, the stuff that I kept was the kind of stuff that shouldn’t have gone into the trash. For example: pay stubs with my social security number, account numbers and other identifying information listed. Papers with credit card numbers. Things like that.

Where I fell down was in not having a shredder. When I moved from the South Bay to this place, I burned out my old shredder and didn’t replace it. So I just kept all these papers in a box.

About 2007 or so The Good Man and I bought a shredder and so I’m doing a better job of keeping ahead of this stuff.

That’s growing, baybee.

2. I’m not actually a hoarder. Last evening I was a bit worried. I journeyed deep into the bowels of Google to read up on it. A true hoarder will have stuff filling every corner, including their car.

I abhor having a car filled with crap. Also, I think it’s a travesty to have a garage and not be able to park in it.

So my hoarding side and my tidy side conflict. This tenuous balance is what keeps me on the “not so bad but could use some work” side of the hoarding line.


3. It feels really good to shred every remnant from a job I held for just a year and that treated me very shabbily.

Really good.

4. Boxes of crap kept up off the ground don’t mold. Boxes sitting on the ground become a scary experiment in the rapid proliferation of mold.

Just. Ew.

This doesn’t happen in New Mexico.

5. I don’t bounce checks nearly as often as I used to.

I’m sure that’s partly because I don’t actually write checks anymore. But I also don’t overdraw my account like I used to. I shredded TONS of notes from the bank notifying me that I was overdrawn.

I haven’t seen one of those in a long time. Like years.

I think I used to play it pretty fast and loose with the float time on checks. Not so much these days.

That’s growing, baybee!

6. I still keep a copy of all the important payments I make (like a copy of the check sent to the Superior Court to pay a red light camera ticket) but I don’t keep them in paper form anymore.

Don’t gotta put .pdfs in a medium size U-Haul box.

Ain’t no one gonna complain about a cluttered hard drive but me.

7. Getting out from under a pile of twelve year old crap feels really, really good.

So good I uncorked a nice bottle of red and am relaxing tonight feeling pretty happy about my progress.

So the shredding is done and the separating the wheat from the chaff, or the donate from the trash, continues tomorrow.

Image from The Lake Mary Blog.

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  • Natalie

    That’s it. I’m buying a shredder tomorrow!
    You are such an inspiration…. Sis.

  • Leovi

    Thank you for sharing those things you’ve learned along the way, help us continue to improve our sense of humor. happy 2012

  • Lady Whispers

    You indeed learnt a lot
    I too need a shredder I guess :)

    • Karen Fayeth

      Hi Lady Whispers – Perhaps there will be a high demand for shredders in the new year! All my fault! :)

      Thanks for stopping by and for the comment.

  • nerima

    hi karen and thank you for stopping by my blog.
    I’ve flown way over here to see your blog and I like what I see.
    You sound like the Sister-in-my-Head. :P
    I can totally relate with the whole shredding business. My Hubbs is in charge of that and the damn thing over-heats all the time. Mind you, we had upgraded and gotten a bigger shredder.

    When I take my mother to see her doctor, I always note the big fancy industrial-size shredder there at the doctor’s office. I fantasize (yes fantasize) taking that machine home with me. Now THAT’S sad.

    I will come back to see how you are progressing with your big move.
    Happy new year!

    • Karen Fayeth

      Hi nerima!! Loved your post this week so much!!! Thanks for coming over my way.

      Where I used to work they had one of those big industrial shredders and didn’t mind if we used it. I loved that thing! I could dump big fistfuls of documents in there!! So I completely understand what you are saying.

      Thanks for stopping by and thanks for the comment!!

  • Daydreamertoo

    It is amazing how much information we do give away in our trash. Important info too. Good for you for plowing through it all and getting it done.
    Happy New Year, thanks for paying me a visit. :)

    • Karen Fayeth

      Hi Daydreamertoo – It really is amazing how casual a lot of companies are with our information. Pretty scary, really!

      Thanks for stopping by and for leaving a comment!!

      Happy New Year!

  • Emmett

    I have always has the luxury of working for employers who shred a lot of documents, and so utilize the large burn bins at the office.

    Still have to make myself go through my boxes of paper every couple of years though.

    • Karen Fayeth

      Hi Emmett – My company has burn bins, but it’s a tiny box and you have to feed documents a few at a time. I may as well shred ’em at home for all that effort!

      I did take another load of stuff to the pay-for-shred business near my house. I’m starting to love that place. Their shredder is HUGE. You could run a car through that thing.

      Aw yeah!

  • Larisa

    I still have my first shredder. Now I’m thinking it’s underutilized. Gonna change that next week. (Go, Karen!)

    • Karen Fayeth

      Larisa – It’s very empowering! LOL.

      Hope you, the husband and the beautiful new bebeh are all feeling better!

  • Nadine in Nevada

    I can totally relate. I’m in the process of going through file folders and doing the shred or scan exercise. It’s a very long process ‘cuz I have YEARS of crap too. :) Love your blog girl.

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