George came into the kitchen with a 13 gallon trash bag full of old bills, bank statements, school transcripts, and medical records - some dating back even further than the seven years (this month) that we have lived together. We're talking decades.
What should I do with it? he asks.
I am a big proponent of shredding confidential papers. I shred everything AND I check my financial accounts twice weekly. Credit scores, twice a year. Identity theft is an ill from which I am trying to inoculate myself.
Georgie, on the other hand, would throw the bag out for pick up by the garbage man AS IS. The garbage man would then throw the bag on a landfill that is, to my mind, crawling with evildoers waiting to rip the bag open to find George's credit card bills and social security number which they would then sell to a richer, cleaner evildoer for purposes of thieving and identity theft. I couldn't let that horrible scenario happen to Georgie so I took the bag and sent him on his way.
Now generally, I shred my personal papers daily. When an item reaches my desk, I pick it up and decide: keep or throw? If it's throw, rip once, rip twice. Into the trash. No machine because my shredding needs are light and generally spread over time. This method works for me. But what I'm about to do.
I start shredding the papers in George's bag - ripping each envelope or bill, in half. Once. Twice. Once. Twice. Once. Twice. I worked my way through a bit of the bag and realized there was no way I was going to shred each and every one of these old papers. We are talking decades.
I didn't know what to do when I had an epiphany: I would clean out the refrigerator.
I took the bag and put it in a second plastic garbage bag for double security against spillage. I opened the refrigerator, and then a two week old pint of soy yogurt which I emptied into the bag. I emptied a three week old Tupperware of Tofurkey and vegetarian brown gravy leftovers into the bag. I dumped the moldy Costco raspberries into the bag. I dumped a baggy of slimy old mushrooms and a container of overripe watermelon into the bag. Then I poured the morning's coffee grounds AND the remains of the coffee itself into the bag. Finally I emptied Lucy's litter box and its contents into the bag for that certain bouquet. I tied the bag closed and shook it up and down to coat each piece (and I helped), took the bag outside, and threw it into a garbage bin for pickup.
Set a few days in there. Over to the landfill. Evildoers, have at it.
Lucy's other litter box