In two weeks, the National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO) will hold their annual meeting in New Orleans. I am not invited. Neither will I be participating in their ninth annual Get Organized Month, which is designed to “focus national attention on how getting organized empowers people to take back control over their time, inboxes, paperwork and possessions.”
I’m not interested in getting organizationally empowered. That’s not me. Neither am I a clean freak, germaphobe or anything else that burdens my daily routine, which includes looking for my wallet and car keys. I’ve never been to the Organized Living Store or Containers and More. Lori, on the other hand, could be an officer of NAPO. When it comes to managing clutter, we make Felix Unger and Oscar Madison look compatible.
My habits are the product of a minimalist youth, when your possessions could fit on three hangers. No one needed California closets to organize a couple T-shirts, jean shorts, a pair of Chuck Taylor’s and Boys Life magazines. And with the computer age, if I consider it important, it’s scanned and on my laptop.
So Lori and I have managed our contrasting styles over the years. But every once in a while something happens that serves as a flash point. Like what happened last month.
The trouble started when we rented a storage unit. These things are the rage these days, popping up all over the city, but especially along Interstate 435, U.S. 69 and on the western edge of Shawnee and Olathe.
The upscale residents go for the PODS — where someone takes your worthless possessions and moves it far away. Everyone else goes for the storage units, as we did. Our unit is in Martin City, which raises the prospect that our unit once was used to produce an illegal substance worthy of a grand jury subpoena. Storage units have risen in the pop culture index thanks to “Storage Wars” and reality TV episodes that aren’t real. But our unit would never make prime time unless someone wanted to do a special on tents with missing stakes and fishing lines tangled beyond hope.
Our storage complex requires a code to open the gate and is encircled by an 8-foot wall, which is comical because nothing on the property has value. This is the land of broken man-toys — rejects from E-bay, Craig’s List and garage sales. There is an open area where renters park/abandon items that remind me my life could be worse: things homes associations/spouses/girlfriends won’t tolerate, including bass boats well past their prime, snow removing trucks, tailgating grills, RV’s, portable campers.
And so when our junk needed a home, it was my job to fill the unit. NAPO would have created a spreadsheet with categories of things in certain places in the 30x10 storage area. Me, on the other hand, started stacking and pushing, stacking, balancing — everything but organizing. This could be a case study during a break-out session from the NAPO convention. The door shut and everything was great, provided no one else ever laid eyes on the looming nightmare.
And then two months later Lori uttered the words that threatened our holiday spirit: “We need something from the storage unit. The ski gear.”
At that moment, marital harmony jumped on a Mega Bus. A cold breeze rattled the windows, the thermostat dipped and things got really quiet. “I will go with you to help find it,” she offered.
And on Saturday, Dec. 15, we rolled up the door to Unit 134. Lori stared at the stack of plastic tubs, cardboard boxes, tents, sleeping bags, those folding chairs you take to soccer games, patio furniture, fishing poles, shovels, picture frames, computer monitors, extension cords, holiday lighting wrapped in a knot, and stacks of other things escaping identification. All the way to the ceiling, hanging in a precarious balance that would make Cirque de Soleil envious, there was a narrow passage way down the middle. “This is a real life Jenga board. Move those fishing poles and everything will collapse. They’d find us after Christmas.”
Forty-five minutes later, we hit jackpot. A gray tub, naturally found at the bottom of a large pile, brimming with gloves, hats, pants, socks. The Jenga game was on.
Matt Keenan, a 913 freelance columnist, writes every other week. His book, “Call Me Dad, Not Dude. The Sequel,” is available at thekansascitystore.com.