Opinion: Talking trash


After last week’s column about getting a knee replacement, many people expressed sympathy. Not for me, but for my wife, who has to pester me every day to do my exercises, which can be very painful. The pestering, I mean.

While I’ve been recuperating, Mary Ellen decided to tackle a job she had been putting off: going through kitchen drawers to see what we have accumulated in them over the years…and what should be thrown out.

“What is this?” Mary Ellen asked me as she dangled a doodad in front of my face. It was small, white, plastic, hexagonal in shape, and had several grooves. “It looks like it goes to something,” she said.

“I have no idea what it is,” I responded.

“Let’s put it somewhere in case we ever need it. It looks important.”

“So you want to keep it because you don’t know what it is for? And if we did know what it was for, we’d also keep it. That would mean we are going to keep everything. Why bother doing this at all?”

“Don’t be silly. I only keep things that look important.”

I knew exactly what she meant. I have a desk drawer in my office filled with things that look important—but I don’t have a clue what they are for. The only way to find out if something has any value is to throw it away.

When Mary Ellen wasn’t looking, I took the thingamajig she asked me about and tossed it in the trash. Whatever that thing was, it was now gone forever. It was just a matter of time before I found out what it was for. The next week our son stopped by the house. “Dad, Mom wants me to mount the kitchen phone on the wall. I can’t find the mounting bracket. It’s a small, white, hexagonal piece of plastic with grooves.  Do you know where it is?”

“Yes, of course. It’s on the far south side of Indy—at the landfill.”

“You threw that away? Dad, didn’t you know that it went to something?”

“Yes, I knew it went to something. I just didn’t know what it went to.”

“We know now, Dad. It went to the dump.”