Hello, my name is Mel. I am a hoarder.
This rather shocking realization came to me as I stared into a big box of stuff this weekend and wondered what to do about it. Some people go to Maui for vacation, I go to the basement and unpack a few more boxes still waiting to reveal their contents after our last move.
So there I was, looking into this rather large box, at my phone book collection. My first thought was, Whereinhell am I going to put all these phone books? As I contemplated this challenge, I began idly thumbing through a few of them. I’ve kept every Kamloops phone book since 1981. Some years, two copies, three if you count the InfoTel directories.
I’ve kept those books because I’m a bit of a fanatic when it comes to local history, and old phone books are a great source of information. Then I asked myself a fundamental question: how many times have you actually used one of those old phone books in the name of research or even curiosity? Not ever.
Therefore, they are a waste of space, therefore, toss ‘em. But as this prospect shot a sharp pang of discomfort through me, I realized at that moment: Mel, you are a hoarder of information. The TV shows on hoarding show houses full of garbage, toys, bottles, junk and cats. You, however, hoard information on the expectation that you will some day have a use for it.
The next box I came across was packed with file folders of old newspaper clippings, neatly categorized by subject: crime, politics, water quality, social issues, even one called Breasts. In 1996, you see, there was a court ruling affirming the right of women to go topless in public. This made for quite a good Mel Rothenburger Live, the old radio show I used to do on CFJC. Public toplessness never took hold, though.
In fairness to myself, I collected all those clippings (there are several more boxes just like that one) because my job is to research issues and express opinions on them. But it’s been more than 10 years since I was on regular radio, and research for newspaper editorials is a few key strokes away on the Internet.
In this modern information age, there’s no need for old phone books and newspaper clippings, so they’re now stuffed in the back of my pickup and will be heading for recycling tomorrow. Except for the 1981 phone book, of course. And a couple of file folders of clippings on political issues that might come in handy some day.