WOTD: hoarding

Well, that’s it. Another year over and done with. I mean another school year, natch. Today was my last day at work before summer vacation. Yippee! Now I have four days to prepare mentally and, indeed, environmentally for the arrival of my mother, grandmother and cousin. They’ll be arriving on the 6th next week and will say in Gothenburg until the 11th, when we’ll all journey to Stockholm. I’ll celebrate my 36th birthday in style in Sweden’s beautiful capital city.

But I digress from today’s very serious topic: hoarding. Actually, I’ve never personally known a hoarder. Until now I think. There are several types of hoarding, one of which is the result of hardship. For example, many Japanese have begun hoarding rice and other foodstuffs because of the disasters that occurred earlier this year. Animals hoard food for the winter. Then there is the type of compulsive hoarding with which this post is concerned. Wikipedia defines it as, “the excessive acquisition of possessions (and failure to use or discard them), even if the items are worthless, hazardous, or unsanitary. Compulsive hoarding impairs mobility and interferes with basic activities, including cooking, cleaning, hygiene, sanitation, and sleeping.”

There was a lot that needed to be done at work today to finish up the year. I did some administrative work, scrubbed the kitchen area, and threw away piles of old uneaten food from the fridge. Yeah, it was pretty gross but not nearly as disgusting as having to gather up the suspected hoarder’s multiple piles of accumulated stuff and moving them into her office. I don’t know if this person is at the compulsive stage yet, but could very well be on the way there.

Normally I wouldn’t have bothered, but we have cleaners coming next week who will mop and wax the floors and who had requested that all personal belongings be picked up off the floor. So, since my pack rat colleague is already on vacation, the task fell to me to remove her stuff from the faculty computer room. This room is supposed to be at the disposal of all members of the faculty. However, it had gotten to the point where every surface: every desk, table, shelf, and window sill was stacked with her papers and belongings. I found lists of contact information for students who graduated years ago, and boxes full of old homework assignments, which for some strange reason she insists on keeping. I doubt if she even remembers she has this stuff.

She’s done the same thing in the exam marking room, and don’t even get me started on her office. Yeah, she has an office, but she never uses it. Actually she has part of a shared office that also happens to be my office. She has two desks, a couple of book trolleys, at least four of the large IKEA Billy bookshelves, and several paper shopping bags on the floor, all stacked and stuffed and crammed with books and papers. It’s even worse now because I just brought everything she’d spread out in the computer room and shoved as much as I could on her bookshelves and dumped the rest of it on her desk.

Man, she’s going to be pissed off when she sees that. Still, that’s her problem. This is certainly not the first time her stuff has been gathered up and removed. One of the assistant principals did it last year and told her that she must work at her desk and cannot take over various communal faculty rooms at the school. Well, it took about a year for the boxes and piles to build up again.

Anyway, here’s a couple of pictures. You be the judge:

Miss Kitten's desk with colleague Pink Lady's desk on the left. See the origami garden on the window sill?

I should point out that our desks don’t normally look this clean and neat. We spent several hours organising and discarding last year’s papers. I’m very pleased with the results. Our desks can get pretty messy when we get busy and don’t have the time to tidy up. However…

Here is Pack Rat's corner of the office. This is only one part of it. It wraps around to the right.

No wonder she doesn’t like to work at her desk. I mean, look at it? Who would? Most of the stuff shown in the picture was there before I moved more stuff from the faculty computer room.

It is not my intention to come off sounding like a holier-than-thou bitch. I can certainly be messy at times and I don’t mind messes. Most of them, anyway. Life is often messy and I enjoy cleaning it up. No really, I do enjoy cleaning. What I can’t stand is clutter. Particularly, pointless clutter on this scale. I’m concerned for my colleague’s mental health. She’s making working conditions for herself and colleagues unpleasant.

I can only imagine what her house must look like.