bunt sign

February 3, 2000

I like working at home, but I really need to move. Either this place is going to explode, or I'm going to be buried under the years of accumulated rubble.

The wiring is so old here that I expect all my equipment to blow at any time. That's the reason I haven't done the logical thing and move my bed into the smaller bedroom, and my office into the larger one. I'd have room to move around, maybe even entertain, if I didn't have the living room cluttered with office equipment and file cabinets. But it all has to be in there, because it's the only place in the house where any of the outlets are grounded.

The landlord promised six months ago to upgrade, and he even had an electrician here a couple of times, but I haven't seen the guy since August. The Company had one new outlet installed for the copier, which requires a grounded plug on its own separate circuit. But everything else is plugged into a surge protector, which is in turn plugged in behind the refrigerator, the only other grounded outlet in the house.

That's one of the qualifications for my new place, if I ever do get around to moving. I want my living room for living.

I've been here for ten years. You can accumulate a lot of clutter in that much time. I'm a packrat anyway, and I have piles and piles of books I've already read, records I never listen to, videos I never will watch again. I sometimes feel as if I'm entombed in a warehouse of my own worthless memorabilia, like a poor man's pharaoh. When I move, it will be easier to give (or throw) things away than it is to do something about it while I'm living here.

If I didn't have the compulsion to recycle everything possible, it would be considerably simpler to get started on a cleanup campaign. I could drag around a large plastic trash bag and fill it easily. Repeat as necessary.

But I pick up a book and think, "Someone should be reading this."

I look at my old vinyl albums and picture someone getting pleasure from them, even if they are disproportionately weighted toward my earlier enthusiasm for countrypolitan vocalists like Crystal Gayle, Lee Greenwood and Barbara Mandrell. Just because I'll never listen to them again doesn't mean no one would.

When I go through my old paid invoices I consider when I might need to produce them. (This is ridiculous, of course. What possible use could a ten-year-old phone bill be?)

And I'm really going to read all the articles in those stacks of National Geographic and Harper's and Atlantic and New Yorker magazines some day. I am so delusional that at times I actually believe this, and that's why I still have them. Boxes of them.

How can I part with newspapers with headlines like "O.J. Set Free" and "McGwire Breaks Record"?

Some of those old video tapes are also valuable historical documents. Not just the Super Bowls and World Series games, but the midseason games when Joe Montana and Will Clark were still in the uniforms of local teams. Tapes of classics like How Green Was My Valley and The Best Years of Our Lives gather dust alongside episodes of forgotten series such as The Byrds of Paradise and Under One Roof (love those family dramas). How do you decide what to keep? I can't, so I keep it all.

Man, I used to watch a lot of television.


And that's not even mentioning the photographs, sheet music and wrapping paper that really do have a chance of coming in handy.

I can always come up with an excuse for hanging onto something long past its useful life. It's not that I need it, or even that I'd miss it if it were gone. I just haven't been able to follow through with the physical act of picking it up and throwing it away. Not quite enough incentive yet, I guess. But what's the point of moving if I take it all with me? I don't think I need therapy, just a little motivation and a big truck.

Sometimes I wonder what kind of lunatic I work for. Last Monday morning he calls me. He has urgent need for some financial documents, three years worth of records, because he's going to meet with a new accountant next week. I work feverishly all day tracking down what he needs and making copies and collating. I mail it in plenty of time to get to him before the weekend, but he's neglected to tell me that he's leaving Nevada Wednesday and coming to California. So today the documents are in Nevada where he usually is, and he's here in California, fuming because he doesn't want to drive back to get them. And I'm fuming because I'm sure he's going to ask me to dig up all the information again and make another copy.

Most of the Company's bills come to my office, but a few of them go to his address in Nevada. Since everything is paid from here, that means that by the time he's looked them over and mailed them to me, they're likely to be past due. Today I opened an envelope from him and found his girlfriend's cell phone bill. Usually there are some charges for the Company on this bill, so he has her write a check for her calls, then mails it to me to pay the balance. This time all the calls were hers, so he had her write a check for the full amount. Instead of sticking her check in the envelope and mailing it directly to the cell phone company, he mailed her check and the bill to me. Without the envelope. I got it today. It was due yesterday. More late charges.

If my job were easy, anyone could do it. I have to read a man's mind across state lines. I'm in my fourteenth year working for him, but for half of that time I've seen him three or four times a year, at most. Sometimes I wonder why we put up with each other. We could not be more different (thank goodness). But the symbiosis has worked, so far. If either of us cracks, it'll be me. On days like this, I'm on the verge.

previousbunt signemailnext