My Ship Came In

My late father always joked he was waiting for his ship to come in. Good news. My ship has come in and it was filled with money. Let me explain.

As we get older, many of us have collected lots of “stuff.” I’ve often written about the late comedian George Carlin and his comedy routine about people’s obsession with holding on to items they will never use. He thought it amusing many of us have to rent storage lockers to keep all of our “stuff.” Well George, I got the last laugh.

Now I’m not talking about hoarding. At least I don’t think so. Being an academic, I liked to read newspapers cover-to-cover each day. I also subscribed to weekly magazines, and as part of my job, I had to read hundreds of books on the subjects I taught. For some reason, I hung on to a large number of these items. Again, I’m not talking hoarding.

Now, our storage locker did not look like this, but with some of our kids items sharing the space, much of it in cardboard boxes, the locker was getting a bit out of hand. Recently, for an entire week, wife Trisha and I went to our storage locker each morning for two hours. We carefully sorted through our “stuff” and gave much of it away, threw out a large amount, and kept the things we wanted to store. We put those items in large labeled stackable plastic bins. Our storage is now a thing of organized beauty.

The fact is, in retirement, Trisha and I really try to do the things we wrote about in our book and talk about in public presentations. One aspect of successful aging we talk about is freeing our minds and environment of useless clutter. We realized we had reached the point of feeling a bit guilty about not living up to our own recommendation. At least not 100%. 

Now to the part about my ship coming in. For some reason while sorting through our storage, I kept out a number of boxes of books and magazines. I was convinced they might be worth something. We then discovered a large book store in a nearby town that bought old books and magazines. Eureka!

After years of lugging these things around, one more time I loaded the heavy boxes and we were off. When we arrived at the store, we found the designated area clearly marked. Our excitement began to grow. It took two trips with a rolling book truck from my SUV. The process was made very clear. They would look through the items and then call my name over the loud-speaker. At that point they would make me a “cash offer.” I became a little concerned about leaving the store with so much cash, but it was worth the risk. We were told we could look around the store while we waited, but I was too excited and grabbed a chair to watch them go through my treasures.

After an hour of their investigation, carefully going through every single magazine and book, my name was called. I approached the desk with giddy anticipation. “Mr. Parker,” said the young man. “Yes,” I replied. “Today, we can offer you $2.”   

At last dad, my ship came in. By the way. On the way out of the plaza, I bought Trisha a coffee latte. $2.38.

We laughed all the way home.