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Monday, July 23, 2012

Coupons And Collections And Hoards, Oh My

This is another one of those days that I have found myself consumed by odd questions of my own making. Have you ever noticed how, when there is an accident or breakdown on the road, everyone seems to be compelled to slow down and have a look? I have long referred to those scenes as train wrecks. Normal people who usually don't want to see morbid things find themselves unable to resist. Trent and I refer to certain reality shows as train wrecks. Let's face it, some of them are kind of gruesome, but for some reason I can't change the channel. 

One of my recent train-wrecks has been watching programs about people who hoard. While I can see how it could be easy to overdo hobbies and collections, there is a whole new level of excess displayed in these shows. Trent asks how I can watch them. For two reasons, I think. One is fascination with how the human mind works, and how easily it can be broken. I also think that deep down, we watch stuff like this to scare the wits out of ourselves so that we don't do it. I know it gave me the impetus to go through some boxes and get rid of some extra things we don't need. Although I am pretty sure I could never live surrounded by eight-foot tall piles of flotsam and jetsam.

This afternoon, I thought, "Well, what about those coupon people?" Are they secret hoarders who have found a more socially acceptable outlet for their compulsion? Who really needs hundreds of packages of toilet tissue or eighty toothbrushes or five hundred cans of tuna or twenty packages of hotdogs in their house at one time? They may have their hoard neatly stacked on shelves, but does that make it any less of an obsession? How can they possibly use all of that stuff before it becomes old? "Aw, come on, Sally, this spaghetti sauce only expired six years ago, it's absolutely fine!" Is the difference between hoarding and procuring a matter of cleanliness rather than quantity? Does being a canny shopper mean you are not a hoarder? I don't know.

I do not want anyone to think that I am against laying by supplies for a rainy day, or being prepared for emergencies. In fact, that is how I was raised. And I like having some extra things in the pantry or freezer just in case we can't get to the grocery or maybe we screwed up the checkbook. Or just because we might want something a little different for our dining pleasure. And it is important, nay, vital, to try to always have the ingredients for making cookies on hand. You may have a chocolate-chip-cookie emergency, you know. But beware, my friends. Making them can cause the arrival of hordes.