Wednesday, July 8, 2009

the binge

Did you ever go on one of those cleaning sprees where you whirl around chucking stuff that has been accumulating dust for the past eight and a half years? I do occasionally in the fire hall storage room. Storage rooms are like banks where you invest your life savings of junk and knick knacks, hoping that they'll gain value with age. Things that you don't need right this instant, but you're going to need down the road. Or maybe they are things you might need someday but you aren't sure, so you tuck them in a dark corner for safe keeping. Or maybe you put them there because your practised eye saw hidden value that no one else could perceive, and you are waiting for just the right moment to bring the stuff out to your amazed friends and say, "See, I told you I'd find a good use for this someday."

Regardless of the reasons for pack-ratting, I occasionally go on a storage room cleaning binge. Some people are binge eaters or binge exercisers. I'm a binge cleaner. We all share one similarity. None of us are more satisfied, physically fit, or neat and tidy after the binge than we were before. Oh well.

All that to say that I went on a fateful cleaning binge in the storage room a few years ago. After chucking a truckload of invested junk that hadn't gained any interest in eight and a half years, I uncovered the large boxes that our extrication equipment had been shipped in, complete with custom-fitted high density foam. When you pay tens of thousands of dollars for equipment, you always hope the shipper puts lots of foam around it. Well, these boxes hadn't gained any value in the five or six years that I had been saving them, so the day of reckoning had come. With the full and fleeting satisfaction of a glutton consuming a gallon of butter brickle ice cream, I chucked everything into the pickup and hauled it to the dump. Sigh.

Fast forward to today, when I had to package up a broken Amkus spreader and ship it a thousand miles by parcel post for repairs. Click here to see one. It's a fifty pound hunk of aluminum and steel covered with knobs and points that would hazard any cardboard shipping container . . . unless the container was lined with custom fit, high density foam. I spent a few minutes pondering a scheme to dig through the Upsala dump looking for my boxes (which suddenly had had taken an astronomical increase in value), but decided that three years of the entire village's cleaning binges would take too long to sort through. Then I went on the hunt for packing material. Several hours later, the Amkus spreader was encased in a hybrid mix of spliced boxes stuffed with an assortment of cardboard, outdated training manuals (that I knew would come in handy someday) and two wimpy pieces of bubble wrap that had escaped the last cleaning binge by hiding in a useful-looking box. The whole thing was mumified in duct tape, with a neat shipping label for a finishing touch. Eighty dollars worth of postage and insurance later, it was on it's way to Williamstown, Ontario. The silver lining? It will get shipped back in custom-fitted, high density foam . . . which will be tucked away in the storage room (for a few years at least).

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