Copyright 2003 Linda Marcas - All Rights Reserved


Crank's Corner


                                           Fee, File, Fo, Fum


    Lately, I've been making sporadic attempts to get my paper mess
under control, to move the stacks and piles from table and countertops,
where the cats re-arrange them for me, into filing cabinets where the papers
will be safe from "catalanches" and where I might have a chance at locating
some Important Papers when I need them.  I have three small filing cabinets,
all half-empty, and all with a mixture of important, potentially important,
and "maybe I'll use these some day" papers in them.  If I just went around
the house and threw all the piles of papers into the filing cabinets, I could fill
them right up, but I still wouldn't know where most things were, which is
why this entire proces of "filing" things is taking so long.  Plus, I just hate
paperwork in general.
    Somehow, I made it through the first thirty-five years of my life with
so few "important papers" that I could keep them all in a small metal file
box.  Even so, at least half the things in that 6-inch-wide box were really
quite unimportant, things like receipts and owners' manuals for small
appliances, old report cards, and the like.  I doubt that I ever really needed to
take a second look at the instructions for using my Water-Pik, and no one
has ever asked me to prove that I had an "A" in Social Studies in sixth grade,
but I was ready to do so, just in case.  I also knew where the title to my car
was, and my car insurance papers.  But, back then, I had only one car to
keep track of.
    Now, I have files for titles and insurance on three vehicles, as well as
files for titles and insurance on two buildings, files for the health insurance
records for four people over the course of time through several employers
and insurance companies and medical procedures ( I never used to have
health insurance, so I never got sick or injured, and never had to keep
records of it all), files for the life insurance provided by hubby's employer,
files for the additional life insurance we probably ought to buy, files for
divorce and child custody papers, files for veterinary records, files for credit
card terms and policies, files for consignment sales of the jewelry I make,
files for sales taxes, files for income taxes, files for car repairs, files for bank
statements, and files for pay stubs.  I've probably overlooked a couple more
categories of "important" files here, and this is just the tip of the iceberg.
    In the "unimportant" category, I have files of ideas for jewelry,
furniture, garden decorations, and a bunch of other things.  I have files
dedicated to certain almost-famous friends, following their carreers.  I have a
file on other friends who've been mentioned in newspapers now and then,
and a file about odd people I've never met, but who've done interesting or
remarkable things.  I have a file of invitations to parties, and a file of special
greeting cards that I wanted to keep, recording graduations, weddings,
births, deaths, and other momentous ocasions.  I have files of sundry clip-art,
security envelopes, and other paper "raw materials" for future projects.
    I know, I know, this makes it sound like I'm pretty well-organized, if a
bit obsessive.  The problem, however, isn't having too many files, per se, but
that I just don't like to sort papers and put them into their proper places.
Most of the time, once a paper gets filed, I seldom ever need it again, but if I
leave the paper in a pile on my desk, I'll need it again next week, to look for
an address or to check a figure or to prove a point.  If I'd only learn to put the
papers way, I'd save myself  that trouble.
    Perhaps my aversion to filing things stems from the time I spent
working for an electronics wholesaler during the 1980s, a job where I had to
write C.O.D. shipping tags for merchandise purchased by retailers all around
the country.  Some of those buyers had credit owed to them, and I had to dig
their old papers out of the filing cabinets to apply that credit to their new
C.O.D. orders.  Often, although it wasn't really my job, I also had to file
copies of invoices for orders that had been shipped.
    The company I worked for was making tons of money, but they were
cheapskates, and never bought new equipment as long as they could force
the employees to use the old.  The filing cabinets, cheap ones to begin with,
were crammed to overflowing with flimsy triplicate copies of invoices for
thousands of customers.  No hanging files, no anti-tip safety locks, no
smoothly rolling drawers, and, on many of the drawers, no handles, just
jagged holes in the front of the file drawer, where the handles had ripped out
of the metal!  There was an old screwdriver that sat on top of the row of
filing cabinets, and the standard procedure for anyone who needed a file was
to take the screwdriver, jam it into the hole where the handle had been, pry
the drawer open far enough to get a grip on it with both hands, and wrench
the drawer open in increments.  One would then stand one one leg while
balancing the weight of the overloaded drawer on the upraised knee of the
other leg, meanwhile trying to find the piece of paper one needed.  Closing
the drawers, once we got them pushed in far enough that they wouldn't fall
out onto our feet, usually involved kicking, or shoving with a shoulder or
hip, while avoiding bloody injury or ruined clothing from the sharp-edged
holes in the front.  Careless salemen would often mis-file things if they
bothered to put them back at all, and, to top it all off, the cabinets were
located in a busy, narrow corridor, in a warehouse that was freezing in
winter and sweltering in summer.
    Small wonder, then, that I have an aversion to filing things, even
when I know I should.  I have no idea where my marriage certificate is, and
it's been years since I've seen my birth certificate, either, assuming that poor,
crumpled, antique photostat didn't get mistaken for a dirty candy wrapper
and thrown away by accident.  No one has asked me to produce either of
those documents in years, so I'm not going to lose sleep over them.  They'll
turn up in a stack of papers, eventually, and then I'll put them where they
belong.  Or not.  I don't like paperwork; it makes me grumpy.  Fee, file, fo,
fum!

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