Filed Under Funny

You know you’re a grown-up when you get excited about filing cabinets. 

When we were in Ohio, I had two very heavy and nice filing cabinets, wood, executive level quality. Man, they weighed a ton! And I had a four-drawer steel filing cabinet. One that predated WWII and was made of a thickness of steel you just can’t get anymore. They literally don’t make them like that any longer. Perhaps for a reason. I’m not a delicate flower, and I could not move that beast by myself. I knackered both The First Reader and myself when I bought it, as it had been in a basement. There were two, actually, but once we got the one up and to the car he said ‘no’ to going down for the other one. I didn’t have the umph to put up a fight. He was right. We were lucky to have gotten that up narrow stairs once, twice was pushing our luck to get out with no broken bones. 

When we were sorting through stuff to sell as we planned to move, he pointed at the Beast, which was then living in the garage. “That… is not going with us.” 

I didn’t argue, again. Sure, they don’t make them like that but I can’t move it by myself, and besides which, we didn’t then know what kind of a house we’d wind up with, or when. I also sold the pretty filing cabinets, because see again: heavy. Moving heavy stuff halfway across the country is a bear and I knew it. All the files were tucked into plastic filing totes, which was fine and dandy up until recently. As in… 

Yesterday I’d been cleaning and organizing the house all day, and got to the office. Here, I basically threw my hands in the air, said I’d have to devote a day or three to the project, and I really needed a filing cabinet. Not only do I have a basket of paperwork that is stratified from ‘bought the house and got closing papers’ to this month’s water bill, but I have filing boxes in the garage that had been battered through two moves and it showed. Also I am not the most organized person in the world, so out of sight is out of mind. Filing will pile up in the office basket, unless I have filing drawers ready at hand. What I really needed was a small, reasonably attractive cabinet in the office, and a big one in the garage for the long-term files that I don’t touch often. Finally, I’m a frugal woman who prefers not to spend real money for the cheap crap you get in the big box stores most of the time, even if it was in the budget. I have the most fun finding bargains and scrounging for what I need, and not touching the household budget in an era of rising food costs while feeding a teen and putting him through college. 

This morning, I put a couple of feelers out for filing cabinets. One responded, and the Little Man, who loves any chance he can get to drive Mom around (I’m sure it will wear off, but today I’m glad I had him), jumped into action. We picked up a cute little wood cabinet from a sweet old lady, and as it was tucked into the car, the kid asks ‘where else are we going? We passed a thrift shop on the way here…’ So we went thrifting. 

As we walked up to the furniture section, I spotted not one, but three filing cabinets. One was the big steel four-drawer deep cabinet that was the slightly-newer version of the one I’d left in Ohio. Two were the pot-metal two-drawers. I looked at all of them. Not only were the two-drawers twice the price (each!) of the big boy, but they were missing their internal hardware while it was intact. The Little Man and I rocked the big one experimentally. 

“It’s not as heavy as the one we had.” He poked at the paper on the front. “Can we take off the decoration?” 

At some point, I’m guessing, it had served time in a crafter’s house. Scrapbook paper fastened to the edges with washi tape covered the front of each drawer, and as I discovered later while cleaning it, there were layers of it hidden under the top piece. But it was faded and torn so yes, we could definitely remove the decoration. The fun part was, going to the register with a photo of the price, I discovered it was half-price that day. So we got a very sturdy filing cabinet for $5 and the kid helped me unload and move it into the garage. The First Reader, having heard us drive into the back and open the garage door, wandered out with an expression of curiosity and a cup of coffee in his hand. 

What have you done?” He looked at it. 

“It’s not as heavy as the last one!” I pointed. “And this is why we have a son!” 

“Can I have a drawer all to myself?” The Little Man asked, “I have stuff to put in it.” 

He can, and once I have it all the way cleaned out. I’ll be able to sort through the filing boxes, put away the stack from the office, and hopefully stay on top of the papers that flow through life like a river of ink and cellulose. I’m tickled it was this easy to get the infrastructure in place. Now, to tackle the actual chore! 


4 thoughts on “Filed Under Funny

  1. A decade or three ago we picked up a fireproof 4-drawer filing cabinet from an office that was going out of business. It’s been with us through several moves, but it’s one thing that the movers get to deal with. I don’t know how much it weighs, but I’m not about to try to move it myself. It holds our most important files, just in case we ever have a fire. The contents might survive, if we’re lucky.

  2. We have two tall file cabinets, inherited one, have had the other over 30 years. I do love my file cabinets. Even though I am trying, with dubious success, to scan and save files we need to keep permanently, I’ll still keep the paper as long as it’s readable.

    We inherited his folks’ paperwork in 2014. We’re down to two plastic tubs of their paperwork, and two or three tubs of our paperwork from our 2010 move yet to go through. Fortunately, most of it goes into the shredder, so the file cabinets aren’t jammed.

    Don’t care what Marie Kondo says about minimizing stuff: she obviously doesn’t have the IRS and family genealogists to contend with…

  3. I have a wooden two-drawer file cabinet I purchased from the San Francisco Library back in the nineties when they were clearing out a lot of their old fitments. It had to be refitted with hardware to suspend the files, but that was no big deal. I love midcentury office supplies, like those metal desks. My dad acquired two of them somewhere along the way and I intend to hang on to them.

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