1. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Getting someone to give up a junk drawer...

    Discussion in 'The Lounge' started by Wreybies, Jan 4, 2015.

    I know how a junk drawer forms. I don't need that explained to me. And perhaps one junk drawer in a house is a natural part of the environment.

    Of the six drawers in the kitchen of our condo, four are junk drawers. The condo is technically William's house. I live there most of the time because it's close to work, but I have my own house elsewhere on the island. These junk drawers have been in existence since I met William eight years ago and nearly all of the junk within the drawers is of at least that age, probably a good deal more, and all of it is his junk.

    I have no junk drawers in my kitchen. I do have a junk drawer in my desk, so again, I understand their formation. I regularly dump out my desk junk drawer and go through the crap, sorting out the things that are simply misplaced and do have a home where they should go, the things I held on to that never found a purpose, and the misplaced mail that no longer matters. Of the few items that remain, there is occasionally something of sentimental value that gets put into a little decorator "box of memories" and everything else goes to the bin. The junk drawer is empty and ready for its next cycle of life.

    William's junk drawers don't work that way. They are crypts. Vaults. Archeological expeditions. Tombs in the desert yet to be found. It's not my stuff, and even after 8 years, I don't feel like it's even close to my place to just dump them out and do my usual routine and get those drawers into valid kitchen use again. I need to find a way to approach him on the matter that isn't going to set off defensive subroutines of barriers and walls and "I'll do it, but not now", which means never. I have tried and failed a few times over the years.

    So, do any of you have these kinds of untouchable drawers? If so, I'm looking for help in what makes them untouchable to you. What drives the unwillingness to go through them and empty them out? How would you feel about someone saying they would happily do it for you? How would said person need to approach you in order for you to let it happen?
     
  2. stevesh
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    stevesh Banned Contributor

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    One of the three drawers in my kitchen is sort of a junk drawer, though I store batteries there, too. It isn't untouchable, but I can't think of a good reason to disturb it. I have a junk table in my office which might drive you crazy if you saw it.

    The fact that it's his house makes the decision, as far as I'm concerned. If I were you, and it really matters, I'd offer to clean the drawers out, and if his response is any variation of 'no', I'd let it go. I might feel a little differently if the silverware is stored in a shoebox on the counter for lack of drawer space ...
     
  3. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Not the silverware, but all the larger utensils used in the cooking process, yes, they do not have a home and usually remain in one side of the double sink after washing. I do all the cooking since I work from the apartment. The kitchen, which is already condo-small, is rendered infuriatingly inefficient by the inclusion of these useless drawers.
     
  4. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    You could offer to throw it out for him. I've got a big house so I've got no storage issues, but still, I've thought about hiring someone to come in and just sort through and organize my shit. It's not that I don't want it done, I just don't want to do it. I agree that it would be crossing a line for you to throw stuff out without his consent, but with it? No problem!

    Alternatively, look for a compromise. Could he throw out enough stuff to free up one drawer? Could it be moved to somewhere else in the condo so it's not in a space that's, by use if not by law, 'yours'? Could you put it all in bins, short-term, and only give items kitchen-space when you care enough about them to dig them out of the bins and use them? (I find moving is useful for this. I've lived in this house for two years now, and if I come across a box that hasn't been unpacked yet, the assumption is that I don't need whatever's inside. I still look, in case there are items of sentimental value or forgotten treasures, but usually the stuff can go.) If your kitchen is rarely used, maybe he could transfer some of his stuff to your kitchen, and then if he doesn't find he's missing it he might throw it out?

    Maybe you could start a conversation by asking him if you have any habits that get on his nerves, with the understanding that you could try to make a trade - he could cut down on the pack-ratting if you cut down on... whatever it is about you!

    I don't know, though. I think you've got to go into this with a good attitude, because cramming all the belongings for one person into a condo is HARD. I think storage issues are just part-and-parcel of condo living.
     
  5. plothog
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    plothog Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Have you tried asking if there's anywhere else in the condo to move the stuff on the basis that then the large utensils can have a home?

    If someone kindly offered to clear out my junk areas for me, I'd probably decline on the basis that I'd worry something I valued would get disposed of. Though that offer might be precisely what was needed for me to suddenly get round to sorting it out myself. That's me though.
     
  6. Chinspinner
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    Chinspinner Contributing Member Contributor

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    Here are my thoughts on the subject: -

    I might be entirely wrong here, but on a surface level it strikes me as slightly territorial keeping the junk in the drawers; it is a little of a power-play when someone insists on having 'their' space and especially when it encroaches on a communal area. I am not good with this; the moment someone insists on having 'their' seat, or hogging the remote, or monopolising general storage space it will usually irritate me to the point of a flat out row. It is the idea that their wants and needs should take precedence over everyone else around them, it pisses me off beyond belief.

    That said, from what you say it is his flat which somewhat diminishes this point.

    I am not a hoarder, in fact a lot of what I own has recently gone to friends/ family/ charity shops due to an imminent move- and I was quite happy to see it all go (except my books). I find that owning too much stuff just makes me feel trapped. So I cannot really understand the hoarder mentality.

    In conclusion, I have nothing useful to offer.
     
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2015
  7. outsider
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    outsider Contributing Member Contributor

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    1. Empty the contents into cardboard boxes, being careful to label which box corresponds to which drawer.
    2. Store boxes elsewhere.
    3. See how long he takes to notice.
    :agreed:
    If it's more than a month, he probably doesn't need the damn drawers.
     
  8. Fitzroy Zeph
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    Fitzroy Zeph Contributing Member Contributor

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    One (wo)man's junk is another man's treasure.
     
  9. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    Does he show any other hoarderesque tendencies, or is his place otherwise orderly? My concern is that he sounds rather like a hoarder (my mother was a hoarder) who has the tendency juuuuuust under control. If you move his stuff, I wonder if that might make the hoarding branch out elsewhere. Now, if he were a full-fledged hoarder I wouldn't be advocating any kind of kid-gloves approach, but if this is the extent of the problem I might suggest that you get one of those heavy crocks to put the cooking utensils on the counter, and so on, and leave the drawers alone.

    As for why the stuff is untouchable, the reason for that seems to usually be buried beneath a bunch of excuses. "Because I won't be able to find it", "Because I have to be the one to organize it--no, I don't want to do it now!", "Because I don't have time", "Because I don't have time and nobody helps me around this place--no, you can't organize it for me!"

    I think that hoarding is often about control and the joy (or anxiety relief) of passively keeping others from making full use of the home. A hoarder can fill the couch with stuff, and if someone wants to move the stuff to sit on the couch, the hoarder can paint them as the aggressor and themselves as the victim. They get control, indirectly; the stuff enforces their will for them.

    Yes, my attitude toward this sort of activity is un-nice. Feel free to ignore it. ;)
     
  10. Chinspinner
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    Chinspinner Contributing Member Contributor

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    I agree, to me it is clearly passive-aggressive behaviour.
     
  11. Fitzroy Zeph
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    Fitzroy Zeph Contributing Member Contributor

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    I find this quite funny actually. There are millions of hoarders who are NOT passive aggressive. Is the man a tinkerer?
     
  12. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    I will not ignore it. :) I will take it head-on, because yes, he does show other signs of hoarding that is just barely managed. I actually think the only two things keeping him from being a full-blown hoarder are lack of time to acquire more things, and economics. It took me three years to get him to let me clean out a closet in the spare room so I could hang my clothes. The closet's contents included a bicycle he had never ridden because there are no good places where we live to ride. Little by little I have hacked out this room as my office, but it took me years! Whenever I am at my own house for any amount of time, upon return to the condo the floor of our bedroom is an ocean of clothing. You cannot see the floor. You can't. The rest of the house is neat and orderly only because I maintain it as such. When it comes to cleaning, he is a 16 year old boy and I am his mom. When he does help me clean, he does such an exaggeratedly poor job of it that it's obvious he's trying to make it so that I never ask him to help again. He once ruined a piece of stereo equipment in the living room by splashing mop water recklessly.

    So yes, I do think that hoarding is a facet of the issue, especially as regards the facet of territorialism. The drawers in question have not shifted contents in the 8 years I have known him. Nothing new has gone in, nothing old has come out.
     
  13. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'm not a hoarder, but I have a lot of "junk". I do clear it out, occasionally, but things are where I need them to be when I need them, even if it might only be once or twice a year. Nothing irritates me more than someone else coming in and 're-arranging' things so I have to hunt - and it's taking their life in their hands if they even think about getting rid of anything without asking first. And no - I don't want to straighten up when it's convenient for them, and don't expect me to 'schedule' a time either. I'll do it when I'm damn good and ready.

    So yeah, it could be construed as a control issue - I'm just not sure on whose side it is. :)
     
  14. Robert_S
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    Robert_S Contributing Member

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    I suppose you could sort through them. Anything that William or you haven't used in a year gets tossed, donated or given away. That should help whittle it down.

    I don't know what you keep in your junk drawer, but if it's anything like washers, screws, nuts, bolts, nails and the like, you can get a parts box. I need to get me a good sized parts box for all the loose screws I have.

    But the first thing is sorting out what has frequent value vs. what simply found a place after a one-time use.
     
  15. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    For me, it comes down to being his space. If he was making a mess at your house, it'd be your right to make changes, but when it's his place, it's his place.

    I mean, you've got an office in his condo, you stay there most nights, you cook there - I can see how that makes you feel as if you should have a say in things! But unless you're paying rent, I don't think you do. It's got to come down to what he's willing to do, what compromises he's willing to make to ensure your comfort. If he's not willing to make this compromise... oh well.
     
  16. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Having junk collections and/or a lot of stuff does not make someone a hoarder or even suggest they might become one. That's like saying you have OCD if you wash your hands a lot.

    http://iocdf.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/Hoarding-Fact-Sheet.pdf
     
  17. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Well then, allow me to add that I pay the electricity, water, cable, phone and internet at the condo. It's his place, no doubt, but it's not like I'm just a visitor.
     
  18. Fitzroy Zeph
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    Fitzroy Zeph Contributing Member Contributor

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    My suggestion is to let him have his drawers full of junk. It doesn't sound like much. I'm guessing you have a few things he thinks of exactly the same way.
     
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  19. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    I suggest you decide how important this battle is to you. It may be one of the battles you chose to give up on. I'm trying to see why this is an important domestic dispute.

    People who live together in successful relationships learn to give and take, to resolve disputes and to decide which disputes really need to be addressed. Why do you care?

    I take it you like order and William tolerates a lot more disorder. What is the real issue with the junk drawers? Do you have trouble finding certain cooking utensils? That might matter, especially if you do a lot of the cooking. If so, negotiate a different sorting of the drawers. I have one for stuff I use in cooking on the stove, and one that has utensils I tend to use more on things out of the fridge or on the counter.

    Or is it just that you don't like the disorder? Because if that's the case, you might want to consider compromising on this one and letting him have his clutter where it has little real impact on you. In other words, learn to let it go.
     
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  20. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    Did you have a conversation about that when you started doing it? Were there terms discussed, or anything?

    I don't know. I mean, obviously you've got varying responses from people on whether this is a serious problem or not, but what it comes down to is whether it's a serious problem for you. If it is, then you tell your partner you've got a serious problem and he can help you fix it. If he doesn't want to help, for whatever reason... well, then you've got an even more serious problem. But it's probably better to know about it than to not know?
     
  21. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    No, the kitchen is tiny and this is rendering it infuriating to use. I let him have his hell-o-mess in the bedroom. I have already made what I feel is a compromise. What concerns me is that the underlying issue continues to metastasize and hasn't been dealt with.

    No, but the problem wasn't evident at the beginning. When I met him, charming as he was, he was deep in debt so when we started getting serious I started helping. What was occasional became the norm over time. The paradigm is organic, not structured.

    For me the issue is one of functionality. The kitchen is one of two rooms in a house with a fundamental job to perform. The other is the bathroom. After that, a little creativity can render any room in a house to various functions, all without even the need to remodel. Even a garage can become a spare bedroom, as is, for someone who isn't finicky. All I'm trying to find is a way to sensitively get the kitchen back to a normal function, especially since I am the one who cooks. I agree with Chickenfreak that there is a larger underlying issue, but I'm not leaving him because of it.


    What I find truly telling as a general observation is how these four drawers have raised such a strong territorial response from members.
     
  22. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    And what would happen if you just told him that? If you said the stuff is getting in the way of functionality? I mean, that seems like a logical argument to me. So, no, I'm not saying you should leave him because of it, but it's a bit strange that you can't talk to him about it? Maybe? Or maybe you can talk to him, in which case... that's surely the next step, right?

    Well, I wouldn't read too much into that - I mean, it's all you've given us to respond to. If you gave us a list of ten things that aren't perfect about your relationship and asked us to put them in order of importance, you'd probably get a lot of differently ordered lists. But when there's only one thing ON the list, the response is going to be pretty uniform.
     
  23. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    I will admit to being territorial about my stuff. I didn't used to be - what's mine is yours type of thing. Then I had several experiences with people tossing out what was "junk" in their eyes but had useful or highly sentimental value in mine. It was, in my eyes, stating that my possessions, albeit junky or old, were of no value and that reflected on my value, not to mention their level of respect for me. So no, I don't care any more what others think of my stuff - it's still mine, not theirs.
     
  24. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yeah, I think that's what it comes down to for me, too - a question of respect. If the stuff was, like, lost in a fire, it wouldn't be a big deal. But if someone else arbitrarily decided to substitute their judgement of what should be kept for my judgement? I'd have a big problem with that.
     
  25. Fitzroy Zeph
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    Fitzroy Zeph Contributing Member Contributor

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    I like to keep a few things around the house that my wife finds less than useful. She likes to keep a few things around the house that I find to be less than useful. We both keep them in places that the other wishes they wouldn't.

    My wife, in my opinion has no sense of three dimensional space, and how things should be stored or packed. All of which drives me nuts. We have a house now but have lived in a Volkswagen van for a year and in sailboat for a couple of years and in a small apartment, all of which challenged my otherwise good temperament. How can someone place those items in that space and expect there to be room for other things? Sound familiar? In the end, though, I have come to realize that it doesn't matter how they utilize that space. It is theirs to do as they please. If he wants to store dirty underwear in the kitchen cupboards, then perhaps have a talk with him, but otherwise, let it go.

    There is no such thing as normal function. Cook in a van for a year and your space will look monstrous.
     
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