….but I am now. Man, oh man, I have collected a lot of weird stuff. Lots. Had some of it awhile, too. I have stuff in boxes where the boxes have deteriorated to the point that things are spilling out and that is the mark of a bona fide pack rat. Sal mutters ‘pack pig’ but it’s the same idea.
I am a pack rat for three reasons. The first reason is that when we started on this mad quest, one of the few things I COULD do was shop, scrounge and salvage. So, my imagining projects in my head generated a weird kind of wish list and shopping for those things exposed me to other crap and so the pile just grew. I knew I’d need steel, for instance, so I picked up steel. I got some pretty good steel cheap. I had no actual plan for the steel but it was cheap. So, I got steel. And, as life out here determines, you eventually use everything you bring and so the steel has been largely used. I look like a genius.
But I am just a pack rat.
The second reason for pack ratitis or ratatouille d’ pack is that once something gets here, it is a helluva schlep and a major mental obstacle as well to even think about taking it back. Once here, it becomes part of the family. In fact, because it is HERE, it is MORE a part of the family than family. Most of them (family) never come here. But my junk stays forever.
The third reason for having excess junk is to help out. I have square steel and round rings, I have plastic hoops and rubber hoses. My neighbour has round steel, oval rings, brass ball valves, plastic hoses and rubber rings. If I don’t have the right thing and John, Roger and Doug don’t have it, Steve or Scott likely does. Collecting junk is a community-building kind of thing.
Packing ratty stuff is a good thing as a rule. A bit unsightly (Sal keeps stuffing junk out of sight which, ironically, is just a way to add more to the inventory. “Hmmm, I could have sworn I had eight different armoured cables of varying length around here somewhere. Guess not. I’ll get some more when next in town.”).
But it can be a problem.
No. I am not a hoarder. Hoarding is different than pack-ratting. Much less status to hoarding. Pack-ratting done right elevates social status and allows work to get done. Hoarding erodes social status and you can’t move for all the junk in the way. Hugely different syndromes.
Same spectrum, tho.
The problem is when pack-ratting and getting older. The older pack rat can turn into a doofus pretty easily. Trust me. One, the rate of utilization starts to slow and shades of the hoarding syndrome start to loom. And second, older people have trouble actually remembering what they have when keeping a million unrelated items packed willy-nilly in boxes stuffed everywhere out of sight and not well inventoried. I kind of forget some of the goodies I have. And, because Sal tidies up so much, I can no longer remember where to even look.
“Hey, Sal! Remember that bronze hook that was big enough to hang a life ring? I need it now. Can you remember where it is?”
“Sweetie, that hook is off our first boat over forty years ago. I have no clue. But, I do seem to recall seeing it. Try the old green tote with the cracked lid under the house. Maybe up on the north side by the old tec cable.”
She used to be right every time. Now she is right only 60% of the time.
I blame Sal.