Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Are you a keeper or a thrower?

The title of this post has nothing to do with sports. It is something that relates to human nature and behaviour. According to a study I read somewhere, when it comes to possessions, human beings fall into two main categories... either you are a keeper (one who likes to keep many of his old stuff) or you are a thrower (one who prefers to discard old items and replace them with new). Actually, I cannot remember the proper term used in that study to identify these two types of people but I'm sure you know what I mean.

I am declaring upfront that I am a keeper. I keep a lot of my old stuff. Knick-knacks, souvenirs, handwritten letters, postcards, books and of course photographs. These things are kept because they all have some form of memory or history attached. But you cannot call yourself a true keeper until you keep other items as well. Things that are outdated and in most cases, practically useless. Under this group of stuff, I have in my possession old receipts, credit card statements, ATM slips, my university lecture notes, shoes, spectacles and my box of LP records bought when I was still a student. Crazy, huh? I mean, who listens to music played from vinyl albums nowadays? Firstly, you'd have to look for a turntable to play it. Secondly, the sound quality is not as good as the widely available CDs. Even if you crave to listen to music from the '70s and '80s, much of them are available today in MP3 form and downloadable from the internet.

Just to let you know, I still have my first turntable. It no longer works, of course... and sits there in one corner of my store gathering dust. Why haven't I thrown it away? Why do I still keep receipts of items I bought many years ago? What use can I have of those old round-shaped John Lennon type of spectacles which I thought looked cool when I was in my twenties? Why do I hang on to a bunch of keys that open doors or locks that I do not know of anymore?

I really can't give you a simple answer... but if you put a gun to my head, I'd say,"It's in the genes..." It is not that I don't throw stuff away. I do carry out spring cleaning every few years (the `few' here is very subjective) but when carrying out such tasks, I end up flipping and reading up old items and re-living the memories attached to them. Like for example, when I wanted to dispose off large files of my lecture notes... I flipped through one of the folders and found an old assignment paper regarding construction law. I re-read what I wrote nearly 30 years ago and felt a certain kind of warmth. It brought to mind the time I spent reading up on the subject and the effort in writing that paper. After finish re-reading it, I decided to keep my notes for a while longer.

Envelope containing handwritten letter from Japanese friend Akemi Koga. The letter is dated 12 April 1992 and she wrote the first two paragraphs in Bahasa Melayu. How can I throw away such a lovely item like this?


British Railcard from student days
Apart from memories, another factor that holds back keepers from disposing off stuff is the thought that there could be some handy use for the item at some particular point in the future. When any of my household appliance breaks down, I always try to salvage parts that still function. It gives me satisfaction when the occasion would come where the part that I saved becomes useful... but more often than not, such parts are never re-used and end up being stored as junk. Call me stingy, if you like, but re-cycling is in my blood.

My mother is also a keeper (did I not say earlier that it is in the genes?), even more hardcore than me. When we were renovating our house many years ago, she instructed that a separate shed be built at the back to be used as a store. Half of the stuff in that store today belongs to her. You can probably guess what some of these things are... plates, bowls and cups. Pieces of china from the '60s era.

My youngest sister, on the other hand, is a thrower. She doesn't like to keep too many old things. When she moved to a new house, she bought mostly new furniture and disposed off the old ones. When her hobby of keeping aquarium fish waned, she wanted to get rid of the lovely wrought-iron tank stand. Guess who offered to take the thing off her hands?

My habit of keeping stuff is still not that serious... not reaching the stage of being a hoarder yet. But I seriously need to get rid off a lot of objects in my store because it is too crammed now. Throw away a lot of the old junk... so that I can create some space for newer junk...

18 comments:

Lili said...

Hahaha)) Kita serupa! I wrote about this too some time ago when I did some spring cleaning just before Ramadhan came. Trying to 'clear' some clutter I ended up keeping them back simply because...'they have their stories!' Tapi, I tak ler macam you...simpan lagi banyak old junk, hehe!

Pat said...

OMG, you really ARE a keeper! No doubt about that at all!

Me, I am a thrower. I don't like having too much 'stuff' around, and if something has not been used for a while, I will 'throw' it out: as in, give it away to someone who may need it; or send it someplace for recycling or whatever.

I don't buy lots of stuff. My furniture has been with me for close to 10 years now, and I think it's still fine. What I'm talking about is stuff in boxes, in drawers, in cupboards, and stuff so covered with dust that you barely remember you have it - THOSE, I will throw.

Btw, my husband is a Keeper. Yes, we're not perfectly matched in that way ;)

Fauziah Ismail said...

Salam Oldstock
I'm a hoarder too. Just last week, I cleared stuff from under my table in the office but still needed two huge boxes to keep those things which do not necessarily be handy later; keeping for the sake of it! LOL!

Anonymous said...

I still have a teddy bear given by my dad when I was 2 years old. it is now 40 years old! Another treasured item of mine is the Intercity time table for Norwich-London from 1992.Guess I am a hoarder too!

-ulat-

Nin said...

To answer your question, I'm a thrower cause I don't like clutter. Every now and then I give away stuff to people who would take them. My logic is simple. If something has been sitting there for more than a couple of years, unused... dispose! =)

Oldstock said...

Lili,

Whenever I do spring cleaning, I spend half of the time reading and reminiscing. Deciding whether to throw or to keep is always the hard part. I think I'll try to be more firm with myself the next time :-)

Oldstock said...

Pat, I think you are perfectly matched in having a keeper husband. Creates a good balance, like ying and yang...

Oldstock said...

Salam Fauziah,

I too, have boxes of papers and notes from my various places of employment. I like to keep my notes because there is always this feeling of I might need to use them sometime, somewhere. Sometimes I do, and it would be a troublesome search... because I can't remember which box I kept them in.

Oldstock said...

Dear Ulat,

If it could speak, that teddy bear sure has stories to tell.

So you still keep a 1992 train timetable. I still have my copy of London A-Z. Well actually, not really my copy but belonged to someone who left it behind. In the the inner front cover is written : This book belongs to Anuar Ramli / Ruslaini M. Noor, Norwich City College.

The price on the book is 50p.

Thanks for dropping by and commenting.

Oldstock said...

Nin,

I was told of a similar advice by a friend : If it has stayed in your store for one year without the need for you to use it, then you can throw it away.

The problem is, if there is still space in my store, then I'll tend to keep it. As I said, I'll get rid of stuff to make space for new ones. It's like hard disk memory space in our computers... old files get deleted only if memory becomes low. But the price of external hard disks is not too expensive nowadays, so why delete? Just copy or backup. Or better still, send to dropbox account.

somuffins said...

Oldstock
You ketam
Lili ketam
I juga ketam
.
.
so kita serupa ;-)

Kak Teh said...

like you i am a keeper, i fact Ag is as well. A keeper sounds better than a hoarder. I have wristbands for when the children were born, every press card for events that I have attended, and thank God now pictures can be saved in the laptop.

Oldstock said...

Cik Som, rupanya orang ketam ni suka nyimpan barang-barang ye... kenapa lah agaknya tu?

Oldstock said...

Kak Teh,

I guess you and Pak Awang would have tons of stuff for your children to inherit... hehe...

Wan Sharif said...

I used to keep most of what I thought to be important.. until last 10 years or so that my office workstation keep changing every one or two years.. Then I kept 'important' datas /material in boxes.. there were boxes that were not open for some years.. that made me realised that those material are not that important after all..
Now..I keep only books and journal.. work reports are all stored in the CD, USB and hard-disk.
At home we do spring cleaning every once a while when the cupboards are filled to the brim.. we gave away half of what we have and start accumulating all over again..OOPs! ;)

Oldstock said...

Ayoh Wang,

In the early days of PC data storage, we all used the floppy disks. I saved a lot of work files on those floppies, always with the thought that they might become useful someday. As time progressed, we have storage on CDs, USB thumbdrives and external hard disks, as you have mentioned. I no longer use the files I stored on the floppies but I still keep the disks anyway. Really must make an effort to throw them out one of these days...

HLiza said...

Truly a keeper I am too!

Oldstock said...

So, what are the items you have kept for so long, Puan Hliza? Cer crite..