The junk drawer

My keys. I know what two of them are for.

I have seven keys on my key ring. I only use two of them and have no idea what the others are for. I should probably just throw them away but I if I did I’m sure I’d suddenly need one.

In our house CarolAnn and I have a lot of stuff in rarely opened drawers, on tables and counter tops, stuff we never use but don’t throw away.  Pens, for example. Many have dried up and don’t work but do we throw them away? Nope. We just put them down where we found them believing, I guess, that they will eventually heal themselves and be good as new.

We also have batteries lying around, though not as many as when our boys were still living at home. Our youngest had a weird compulsion to remove batteries from every device in the house and then lose the little plastic covers designed to keep them from escaping and sneaking off inside and under the furniture. Eventually we had to tape down all new batteries in toys, cameras and TV remotes.

(This is embarrassing. Before I wrote this CarolAnn apparently organized our junk drawer behind my back. It looks neat but it’s still junk.)

The problem with loose batteries is I have no idea whether there’s any juice left in a stray Duracell so I throw it away. Sure, it’s a waste of money but it avoids the aggravation of trying three or four dead batteries the next time I need a live one.

In our kitchen we have a junk drawer where we keep stuff we don’t want to get rid of but have no immediate use for. I think junk drawers are standard features in American homes, probably in homes all around the world. In Alaska you’d probably find a lot of rusty fish hooks and blubber jar lids. At our house it’s rubber bands, business cards and bent paper clips. I think I have a yo-yo in there, somewhere in the back. Really.

“Junk drawers are the perfect resting place for the random assortment of items that you want quick access to and use often,” says organizing expert Tova Weinstock. – Huffington Post, April 2015.

(Some expert. She doesn’t even understand the definition of ‘junk’. – Moi, today)

Modern technology is adding to our pile of unusable stuff that never gets thrown away. We have a million cords and cables, old cell phone chargers and even old computers that are prohibited in the landfill.  You have to find a hazmat disposal site to get rid of a computer these days.

There’s something about a judicious amount of junk lying around our house that makes me feel comfortable. It makes a house a home, as they say.

Occasionally I’ll go into someone else’s home and know immediately that something is very, very wrong. They have no stuff in sight. Everything is neat perfection. It looks like a model home; the only thing missing is a little sign on the kitchen sink reading, “Decorator item”.

I worry that the people who live there have very neat and quiet lives.

Some day, probably a Saturday morning after I’ve had an unusually long and deep night’s sleep, I’m going to wake up energized and filled with a burning desire to finally deal with all the stuff and junk in our house.

I’ll take it all out to the garage.


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Author: Dave

Dave Williams is a radio news/talk personality originally from Sacramento, now living in Dallas, Texas, with his wife, Carolann. They have two sons and grandsons living in L.A.

4 thoughts on “The junk drawer”

  1. David, I love this and, like so many of your Aquarius posts, it speaks to me. We had a wonderful Junk Drawer in the kitchen. It was passed down by the 2 generations that lived here before us and we added 30 more years of jumble to the mix. We turned its care and maintenance over to Jeremy and Emily when they moved in. Now, it is neatly arranged with your son’s cooking tools. I won’t lie, I miss the drawer. It always held the promise of lost family treasures waiting to be unearthed. Jeremy solved our battery issues as well. He taught us long ago how to tell if a battery is dead..”Drop the battery (with the flat, negative end down) from a couple of inches up. If the battery is charged, it should make a solid thud and most likely stay standing. If, however, the battery is dead, it will bounce and fall over immediately.” Sometimes I feel sorry for your son and his strong sense of order. He hates clutter and fights an uphill battle against Emily, George and me as we try to hang on to every item that may be useful one day. Sometimes we try to appease him. The garage is looking more orderly since Jeremy claimed half of it as his workout space. I will say that George solved the mystery key problem years ago. We have a large container that holds a couple of hundred unidentified keys. If we ever find a lock that needs opening, I feel certain that we still have the key.

    1. Gloria, I’m glad you enjoyed it and could relate. The solution to the key problem sounds brilliant, if obvious. (Of course, I didn’t think of it.)

  2. Harbor Freight sometimes has a coupon for a free Voltmeter. Great for testing all of those questionable batteries lol. I think most of us baby-boomers grew up saving everything for future use because that’s what our parents did(much to the dismay of my wife!).

  3. Sounds like I’m in some distinguished company here. Of all the drawers in this house, I’d classify at least a quarter of them as containing “junk” of some kind – meaning things that are a mystery and probably have been for years.

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