S for Stuff

FILING cabinets don’t work.

I have lived with them all my working life — God knows why — and I can say this with authority.

It started when I first acquired a house and considering myself suddenly a man of substance I decided a cardboard box would no longer do. I bought a filing cabinet, a stack of files, a packet of those little plastic bits that slide on top and those slips of card that go in them with the letters of the alphabet.

I filed stuff. The telephone bill, the electricity bill, the rates.

The car rego.

Now I can’t find the bloody thing.

I’ve looked under C for car and R for rego. I’ve searched H for Holden, B for Barina, V for vehicle and M for motor. It’s not there.

When my wife wasn’t looking I also checked furtively under S for stuff.

Yes, I know that wouldn’t be very sensible, but I’m running out of letters! When the possible has been eliminated you start examining the impossible. I think Sherlock Holmes said that, but I bet he couldn’t have found my car rego.

It’s the same with the other stuff. R for rates, H for house or T for Townsville City Council? D for dentist or T for Teeth?

I’m just grateful Telstra and telephone start with same letter or I’d never be able to find the bills.

Is it just me? Or does the rest of the world spend half its life with its head in a drawer.

And why is it that when I do find a bill its one from 1993 and there is no sign of anything more recent!

My wife says I have an untidy mind. I know that. That’s why I bought the bloody filing cabinet for heaven’s sake! It’s like saying you’re doomed to hang because you’re a wicked person. I can change can’t I?

I want to change. I want to be able to impress people at work, when they ask for the file on the Townsville Cultural Festival, by running a quick finger over the little plastic slips, finding the one labelled C (for community), performing a little dextrous exploration and slipping out the folder marked Culture (Festival).

I do not want to panic and try to pull out the bottom file from a pile on my desk that have been slowly composting for the past six months.

I want my wife to ask me where the sewing machine guarantee is and I want to be able to place my hand on it (S for sewing) in the time it takes her to thread the needle.

But it wasn’t under G for guarantee either. Or M for machine.

I’ve come up with half an answer. There are two drawers in this filing cabinet. I’ve removed all the files and now, instead, I just throw bills in the top one and other stuff in the bottom one.

I was going to label them “Bills” and “Other stuff” but there’s no point in inviting criticism.

It’s no different to the old system. I still have to go through everything to find the car rego (which, incidentally, I’d left in the glove box of the car) but I feel more comfortable.

I’d feel even more comfortable with a couple of cardboard boxes, but the neighbours would think I wasn’t organised.