The Shredder

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The Shredder

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The other day, I was off to the storage locker to look for some documents (that shouldn’t have ended up there in the first place) and asked Thom for the keys. I happened to know that he kept them in his car. He confirmed.  “Are these the only keys we have?” I ask. His response? “I think so.” You would realize how comical this was, if you saw our designated junk drawer. It must have more than one hundred unidentified keys.

First order of business? Get extra keys made. I had to go to two hardware stores to get it done, as the first place did not have the proper blanks. Store #2 was able to help and reminded me to please try the new keys to make sure they work. Then off I went to the storage locker. I was happy to discover that the new keys worked, so that item was promptly crossed off the list. Now for finding those documents.

After two hours of filing through boxes, I never found them. What I did do was reorganize the locker and load up a cart with several boxes of documents from the 90s--both personal and professional. My plan was to take them across town to the local shredder. Good thing my husband wasn’t there, because although he did give me the blessing to tackle this purge project, I knew he would talk me out of it, with a list of reasons I would never comprehend.

I ended up with six file size boxes--only a portion of what really needed to go--but I knew that six would easily fit in my car. Besides, my back was sore.

At the moment, I am the only customer here at the document shredding center and I am relieved. I won’t feel rushed. A helpful man empties all our boxes into a huge trash bin and wheels it over to a truck covered in logos. I follow him and ask if I can watch. He reaches up and touches a small screen that turns on—black and white and grainy. Moving around the vehicle, he then turns on the noisy machine. Two mechanical arms grab and lift the bin, dumping the contents into the shredder and I stare at that tiny screen, as the huge pile of papers begins to move through the gears.

Unexpectedly, my eyes fill with tears. I begin to think about everything those pages represent: old resumes, project notes and presentations from early career days, pre-Suzanne tax returns, air tickets to Europe, travel receipts and cancelled checks that were written for all sorts of items. These papers held so much of what was important to my husband. It included building a successful consulting business along with world travel adventures and here the evidence was being shredded to nothing. It felt sad.

And then I got over it. Yes, my husband has worked hard. He was what people describe as successful. In all this, he also had a habit of documenting and keeping everything. Part of me wonders if he had a premonition that one day he might not remember--one day he might forget what was important to him, why he worked so hard, and how he made a difference. Funny, that. Even as I am thinking about this, I realize that although he might not remember the details outlined on those shredded documents, he can still tell (in incredible detail) the stories. And, bless him, he remembers people and their names. And isn’t that what really matters? It’s not the accolades or the money that’s made or the stuff that’s accumulated overtime, it’s the experience we have along the way and the people that have shared it with us. Thank goodness for that.

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3 Comments

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Michelle

That was very touching and brings to my mind a lot of memories. Thanks for sharing.

I love what you wrote. Thanks

CathyJ

Beautiful. Thank you for sharing.