is not too many years, I think, before I will need to buy my very own shopping
cart. Nope, not long now. I was getting ready for work this morning and was looking
for some chewing gum. I like to have gum in my pocket when I go to work. There
are reasons for this. One reason is that I love gum. Love it. Lu-uh-vv it! Another
reason is that I am basically insecure and worry that I stink. I have a whole
morning regimen to avert any preventable stinkiness. I wash and dry my uniform
first thing in the morning. I shower and wash my hair. I use a small arsenal of
anti-stink products. And I chew gum. I have tried to embrace my essential worthiness,
love myself, give myself positive affirmations, but none of that is as effective
a reassurance to me as my little rainbow of lotions and deodorant and powder and
toothpaste. Right or wrong, healthy or neurotic, that's just the way it is. |
I was looking for chewing gum. This used to be easy. Now it is not. I have one
child still living at home and it seems that he shares my insecurity over odor.
He showers, wears clean clothes, spritzes his shoes with Febreze, brushes his
teeth, drenches himself in some manly, manly spray guaranteed to attract cheerleaders.
And then he swipes my gum. There would normally be enough gum around for both
of us, but he goes through an entire pack every day. I think he wants to be ready
in case some girl goes nuts and starts kissing him unexpectedly. You never know
when this might happen, and a guy has to be ready for it.
I have carried
four different purses in the past couple of weeks. When I change purses I take
out the essential things; wallet, lipstick, tape measure, stamps, pocket knife,
coin purse, hand sanitizer, tissues, sewing kit, tire gauge, dental floss, swatch
of living room furniture fabric (because you never know when you might find some
cute throw pillows and you cannot trust your memory when it comes to colors),
notepad, favorite pen and second favorite pen, address book, planner. Just the
essentials. I leave the extraneous things in the purse I am emptying. This includes
mail, grocery receipts, little scraps of paper with unidentified phone numbers,
other scraps of paper with the names of books I want to read or songs I hear on
the radio that I like, "to do" lists, loose buttons, paperclips, empty gum packages
with seeds I scavenge from here and there, camera batteries (I think they breed
in the bottom of my purses because I am always finding them and I never know if
they are new or old). You get the picture. Flotsam and jetsam.
I collected an extraordinary amount of junk. Trash. I knew that. But since I don't
usually change purses quite so often as I have been doing the past couple of weeks,
I didn't really realize how much of it there was until this morning when I was
digging through all four purses looking for gum.
I was shocked! It was
almost as bad as keeping a food diary. I knew I had hoarding tendencies. But this
was ridiculous! I only gave it a passing thought (wow! What a lot of junk I have
accumulated in a short period of time!) this morning because I was focused on
finding some gum and leaving for work. I did find one little bedraggled, sticky,
moist piece, popped it in my mouth and headed out the door. I forgot the whole
incident until this evening.
I was getting ready to leave work. I had given
report and put my notes away in my work bag. I save them. In nursing school they
told us to keep little notes on our patients in case we ever had to reference
them at some time in the future. An ounce of prevention. Then the charge nurse
called me to get report on my two new patients. I began to fish for my notes.
Of course I had all my other notes from the past two months, my 401K report, my
pocket ACLS handbook, paperclips, business cards, email addresses, pens, pens,
pens, pens and pens. And I realized that I had four purses full of TRASH, plus
my work bag full of essentially TRASH! It's awful! I suddenly had an insight and
understood a little those cars you see parked at the grocery store sometimes which
are so full of old newspapers and clothes and junk that there is only room left
for the driver, or those people you see pushing grocery carts piled high with
who knows what. I had always assumed that those people were homeless or had some
kind of mental illness. Now I know. They simply outgrew their purses. And if I
don't change my habits that's what's going to happen to me.
I won't let
this happen. If it is hard to find one lone, humid stick of gum in the bottom
of a purse, think how much harder it would be to find one in the bottom of a grocery
cart. I just don't think I can deal with that.
© Elizabeth Bussey
"The Girl Detective's Theory
September 13, 2008 Column
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