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Friday, July 19, 2024

Packrat vs. De-junker

Author: Mark Dixon
Thursday, December 5, 2013
2:16 am


Yesterday, I participated in an interesting discussion about the tension between a desire to keep data around for an extended period of time versus purging it quickly. On one hand, some people wanted to keep old email accounts active for an extended period of time, just in case an old email message might be needed. On the other hand, the IT folks wanted to quickly purge old information that might not be needed to meet specific legal requirements.

It reminded me of an experience early in my married life.  I had been out of college for a few years, but still kept a number of old text books in my office at work. Ever the packrat, I thought that surely these old books would be of some good use to me in the future. However, running out of space in my office, I brought a stack of the books home.   

I took the books out of my car and temporarily stacked them in the garage while I considered where to keep them.  After a few days, in keeping with her best de-junker instincts, my wife assumed I had planned to get rid of them, and donated the whole pile to a thrift store whose truck came through the neighborhood.

I was a bit miffed when I found out what happened, but my wife gently reminded me that I would probably never miss the books.  You know what?  She was absolutely right.  I never once missed the books, and life was a bit simpler because I didn’t have to store that unneeded stuff.

In the years since then, my packrat tendencies are nicely balanced by Claudia’s de-junking mentality.  She still has to remind me from time to time that I keep too much stuff around.  But she humors me by letting me maintain my little personal “museum” of old stuff. And every once in a while, I put some bit of that old hoarded stuff to good use.

The moral of this story?  I’m not sure.  But it was a nice memory.


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