Why Don'T Hoarders Just Throw It Out?I'm a big fan of the series, Hoarders: Buried Alive. My wife insists she is not a hoarder, because we don't have rats or roaches. But I think she qualifies as a Level 3 hoarder, which is someone who collects things that don't have any perceivable value, and who has portions of the house that are not usable for their intended purpose.
Performing normal daily activities is a constant challenge. On nights when I have to make dinner for the kids, a 20 minute meal prep job takes an extra 40 minutes to collect the piles of paper from the kitchen counter, and then another 30 minutes because the drawers in the kitchen are so full, it's not possible to find a container with a lid, or a cheese grater.
We get into fights constantly over the piles in front of the kids.
It doesn't matter what it is. It can't be thrown out.
I'm not allowed to throw out expired food or expired medications. Sometimes I do this anyway, when my wife leaves the house. But then she may find the things in the trash, and she takes them out.
As a compromise, I started labeling expired medication and food in bold RED letters with the expiration date on it, so nobody uses it. I moved the expired medication into a box, labeled it "EXPIRED MEDICATION" and put it in the garage.
She says she need someone to help her with these piles, and I tried a few years ago. I don't have the patience.
After about an hour, we had not gotten rid of a single piece of paper. After that, I decided it was easier to wait for her to leave the house, and then throw it out.
The conversation went something like this:
Me: "This is a piece of bulk mail from the telephone company saying they are having a public meeting in (large city 100 miles away) to comment on a new 1% fee to cover 911 service. The cost to us is estimated at $0.63/year. I probably am not going to go. Can I recycle this? "
WIFE: "No, I am angry that they are raising our rates."
ME: "We are either going to go to the meeting or not. We probably aren't going to go because we don't have time, and it is only $0.63/year. Can I recycle this?"
WIFE: "No - I want to keep that as a record."
ME: "If I give you $5.00, that will cover the fee for seven years. Can I throw it out then?"
WIFE: "Stop harassing me."
ME: "OK, it looks like they sent us this twice. I got one, you got one. Can I throw mine away?"
WIFE: "No - I want to keep both copies to show that they are wasting money. If they didn't send both copies, they wouldn't have to have the fee."
(I am not making this up)
ME: "Can I throw out the envelopes?"
WIFE: "No, I want to have evidence of the dates."
So then we move onto the next item.....
ME: "Here is a clothing catalog from Boston Proper. You have never ordered clothing from Boston Proper in the 12 years we have been married. Can I discard this?"
WIFE: "No, there is something in there that my friend Sarah (name changed) might want."
ME: "Can I mail the catalog to Sarah with a note?"
WIFE: "No, I don't just want to send her a catalog, I should write her a letter, but I don't have time."
ME: "OK, then it looks like you have six copies of the catalog. These copies are 2 and 3 years old. Can I throw out the old copies of the catalog?"
WIFE: "No, I like to see how the prices change over time."