On Sunday, as is tradition, we were watching some incredibly dull TLC/Home Improvement network/Discovery/Bio network show called Extreme Collections or something. It was about this guy who meets with people that have large collections of things, anywhere from cars to trains to harmonica’s or baseball cards. Most people on the show had collected an immense amount of the things, so much so that they had rooms or basements dedicated to the item that they were collecting. This guy was an expert at assessing the worth of the collection and declaring that amount to the person. Most people’s collections would be worth more than what they paid for it, so they felt justified in their dedication of collecting. But in the end, most people also said they would never sell all the stuff they had. So to me, they are closet hoarders, in that they keep their hoarding dedicated to a closet, room or basement.
Most people will admit to collecting something or other. When I was in high school, I collected keychains. At one point, the only way to carry around my collection of 35 or so chains was in my incredibly deep pocketed acid wash jeans. People would take a look at my crazy collection and tell me that the weight of the chain would ruin the ignition in my car. Oooh, I was so afraid of ruining a 1979 Volkswagen Beetle, on my way to a job that was paying me $2.75/hour. Thankfully, I grew out of the keychain collection like I did those acid wash jeans and bad hair. But I do continue to collect stuff.
Moving violation tickets – I started collecting tickets at an age before most people even started driving. At got my first ticket driving the trendy two street cruising loop that teenagers would cruise in order to falsely hope to “pick up chicks” when I was 15. I had no game then (nor did I ever “get game”), but I did have a headlight out, and they was enough for a cop to pull me over and give me my first ticket. I continued to get tickets on a regular basis for speeding, driving without a license, driving while drowsy and the super rare, failing to fully stop at a stop light. I thought it was a myth that those even existed, but I think they are worth quite a bit on the moving violation ticket market.
Bad report cards – A tradition since kindergarten when I was given a simple task to make flowers out of crepe paper. All the kids around me somehow were able to make a whole trees worth in a matter of minutes then were able to get early naptime and then recess, while bad instruction follower me, and super shy teacher asker couldn’t for the life of him, figure out how to just make a little twist and that would result in a decent looking flower. The only three that appeared on my tree was the two demonstrated to me by my teacher and the one that my kindergarten neighbor did for me out of pity. This tradition continued on in other grades and subjects like math, biology, math, geometry, trigonometry, calculus, algebra and math. Never did I go even one semester without getting at least one bad grade on a report card.
Sports failures – I started collecting unclutch moments in sports at a young age. My earliest moment of failure came when I was riding my high speed Big Wheel around a corner too fast and got in a wreck with the pavement of my driveway. There were the 8 goals I gave up as a soccer goalie, the missed layups when I could have won basketball games, the loud rattling of the high jump bar at 5’6, placing me second out of the two in the city high jump finals. There were the 7 place out of 8 in the 400 meters, and the captain of the worst YMCA basketball team in the history of men’s high school basketball. The first guys that ever played basketball with peach baskets would have trounced us and they didn’t even know the rules.
Scars – My scar collection started in the early years. The aforementioned high speed Big Wheel wreck of 1977 was the first of three known scars. The second was another high speed collision, but this time with another person. I was playing an intense four square match, when a riot broke out from the other side of school, so as an involved and responsible citizen of the school, it was my duty to check out the fight. As I was rounding the corner, I ran into another citizen who was going the other way and we knocked into each other’s foreheads. 6 stitches under my eyebrow. The third was at work when I was helping remove store shelves from an old store and one of the metal beams fell down on the back of my right hand and showed me for the first time in HD what your skin looks like under the surface.
Call collecting what you want. A future investment, an obsession, or organized hoarding, most of us do it. Someday we will all realize that doing it was a huge mistake. We either collected the wrong junk that is useless and just taking up a lot of space, or the stuff we were collecting was worth a lot of money and we allowed our mothers to throw it out because it wasn’t a collector’s item.
Bitter Collector of Junk Ben