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.

Person of Interest

Over the last month, my wife Trisha and I have traveled extensively making a point of reconnecting with family and old friends. One of those old friends I’ve known since I was about 10 years old. His name is Danny Telford.

In every school class, there always seems to be one person who everyone likes and respects. In my class, it was Danny. Fact is, it’s still Danny. He’s the guy that heads up all the reunions and other class activities. If someone needs something, they call on Danny. If a classmate happens to be in town and needs a place to stay, they can always stay at Danny’s. Fortunately, he married a wonderful woman named Susan who is equally well liked and respected.

Danny is an example of someone who has reached retirement age, but decided to keep working. As young boys growing up in the Los Angeles area, we were all Dodger fans. Several years ago, Danny landed a job working at Dodger Stadium. He puts in long hours, works every game and event, and is completely dedicated. I don’t think there is anyone who works at the stadium who doesn’t know Danny. He is truly one of the good guys and I’m proud to have him as a friend. (By the way, if you get the baseball package on cable or satellite, you can see Danny on TV durinig every Dodger game. One of his many duties is setting up the microphones for the singers who perform the National Anthem and later God Bless America.)



I know I’ve written about this topic before, but this week has made it more real for me. My wife and I have been spending time every day at our storage space. Yes, our storage space. I even hate saying the term. Hundreds of dollars a year to store a few dollars worth of goods we will probably never look at or use.

We started out by clearing my late parents storage space. I have to give them credit because they had done a wonderful job of downsizing and organizing. We just needed to go through and decide what to do with the remaining goods. We gave away most of it. We’re not big on garage sales and would rather see it go to people who have a need rather than trying to bargain someone for a few dollars.

Even though my folks did a good job, it’s still a pain in the rear going through stuff. When we were finished with their space, we decided to make it as simple as possible for our kids. That’s why we’ve been working so hard at our storage space. We are almost finished and it feels great. All I can say is, at this point in our lives it’s time to simplify, get rid of the stuff you don’t need, and get organized. You will have peace of mind and your family will be forever grateful.

I should add, our kids still don’t believe that hookah in our storage was a gift from a friend in Turkey. It really was.

I’m sure you all remember the late comedian George Carlin. One of his comedy bits really hit home with me. It’s  the one about people having too much stuff. He made fun of the fact that many of us have so many clothes we don’t wear most of them and have acquired so much other “stuff” in our lifetime we have to pay for storage containers to house it. Sound familiar? How many of us are spending money on storage for objects not worth the rent we pay to store them? After our last move, my wife and I finally got it down to one smaller storage space and that’s now a work in progress.

The point is, this is our retired life. A time to keep it simple and enjoy the fruits of our labor. Having too much stuff to manage can cause lots of stress and make us miserable. Of course there are the possessions that have sentimental value and we should pass those things along to loved ones. It’s all the other things we’ve acquired and will really never use that create a problem. Let’s all take a vow right now: Give the stuff away or throw it away. There is somebody out there right now that could really use and appreciate your stored items. It’s guaranteed to make you feel better and save a few dollars in the process.