Monday, June 16, 2014

It's a Good Day When a Hoarder Dies

I couldn't put my finger on it why I had this visceral and extreme hatred and disgust with hoarders.  Not just in watching the shows, but dealing with people in my own life who put more value on material items than they did life and their fellow human beings.

And then it dawned on me why:

They put more value on worthless material items than they did life and their fellow human beings.

My epiphany about humans being the most important thing in this world is well-covered ground.  I don't need to delve into that.  But the fact that hoarding is a phenomenon AND to a lesser extent VERY COMMON among the rest of society, only serves as a damning testament to the general patheticness of society.

Think about it.  Nearly everybody you know hoards to one level or another. Not the extreme where a worthless soul is crushed by the collapsing floor underneath the weight of filth.  But just look at the average American household and how much unneeded and worthless stuff is crammed into it.

Admittedly I have a unique perspective ridding myself of nearly 75% of my Earthly possessions.  LImiting myself to just the bare necessities and ONE box of mementos.  But even the average person has about 60% of stuff they don't need, don't use, but still hold onto.  Certainly, a lot of this is unconscious (not until you move do you realize just what a burden all your stuff is).  But where my ire is raised is when a person is asked to get rid of their stuff so that they may continue on with life AND HAS A PERSONAL UMBRAGE AND AFFRONT to getting rid of said stuff, that is where I start to view them as inferior.

Trinkets, doileys, furniture, appliances, televisions, clothes, you name it.  Humans are programmed to put more value on stuff they'll never use than the people said stuff inconveniences.  They'd rather cripple their finances, renting or paying a mortgage for a house that serves more as a storage facility, not to mention torpedo their personal or love relationships, than rid themselves of meaningless things because they are so subhuman, so sub-par, they actually value things more than life and their fellow human beings.

It took me a while to fully explore and understand my genuine hatred for hoarders and people who are pack rats.  And now after thinking it through (not to mention seeing instance first hand) I understand why I not only despised such people but why my despisement was completely legitimate:

They are not humans, but subhumans.  And subhumans that would rather collect "Beanie Babies" or some other worthless shit than give their spouse or children or just their plain fellow man an extra bedroom in case of need. 

It is indeed one of the few and genuine drawbacks of capitalism.


badventist said...

My dream is to buy a property, build on it a shed, put all my stuff in said shed, and just walk away.

Aaron said...

What you are talking about is the very human desire to be in control of time and space. Owning stuff, whether it is a trinket or a piece of furniture, gives a person the feeling of being in control of that point in space and time. So filling your surroundings with things that you own, that you can have, creates the feeling of reduced uncertainty and randomness of life. It's like eating the same meal you always have, or wearing the same suit - it makes you comfortable.

Most people aren't able to confront new things, new people or ideas, immediately. Having around them items that reinforce their control and order improves that ability.

Anonymous said...

The reason people collect and hoard things is because *some people* consider them worthless souls.

newrebeluniv said...

I have seen that show where they try to "help" hoarders. In every case it becomes obvious that the hoarders are not making choices. They are mentally impaired. And the professionals that are there to treat them have zero skill in actually treating them. They bring counselors and experts in organizing closet space. What they need are psychiatrists who can prescribe mood altering drugs.

What they do on those shows is just cruel to the hoarders. They are sick, sick people.

Anonymous said...

My grandfather was a child of the depression who kept everything that might have a use. He paid for his youngest daughter's first two years of college with aluminum cans collected in tub after tub in his backyard for years. The whole family was pretty poor, but if anything ever broke down he had the parts to fix or replace it. I've inherited the same Pack Rat mentality, and fight it daily, but it's not the same thing as those poor people who feel compelled to keep pizza boxes, too many cats, or Beanie Babies. Those people are truly ill, and need help even though they're unhappy to receive it. I generally enjoy your insight, but I can't agree in this case. However, I can continue to work toward minimizing my own collection of material possessions. Thanks, Captain. Keep of the good work.

leeholsen said...

i am not sure if you know of the site and book, early retirement extreme; but i thought i'd recommend it if you didn't. it essentially begs off the consumer culture and goes to living on what is needed. now, some of them go "extreme" by making their own bread, living in a mobile home; but they make the clear points like yours here of having the latest stuff or stuff that you dont use or paying for rooms in your house you dont need as stupid.

Anonymous said...

Growing up with a hoarder mother, was just fucking weird sometimes.
After the divorce, my mother (who is totally bat shit insane) inherited a split level house.

Every space in the house is crammed with shit, She has a cabinet full of lamps that have never been used, and a cabinet of old shoes; In her bathroom. My old room is ENTIRELY filled with clothing, to the ceiling, (with a small pathway).

In the basement, there is a whole room full of stuff that will never be used. The cabinets on the far wall haven't been opened since I lived there (8 years ago). When I was a kid, there was a stack of dozens of empty shoe boxes. For some crazy reason, she was saving them.

For the last eight years, she has been "putting a Tiki Bar/ Man cave" in the basement. Her efforts consisted of buying a bunch of bartending supplies and tropical decorations, and setting them on the bar counter (built in bar).

I don't understand, she doesn't drink that much, she doesn't entertain either. I would actually be impressed if she brought her friends over and drank Mai Thais in the basement.

She bought me an air hockey table. Cool, I think. I love air hockey. She stacked it high with junk, promising to clear it off when I wanted to play. I played air hockey, but a handful of times.

She has 100's of cookbooks, but never cooks anything. The pantry appears to be full of food. Upon further examination, I realized it was actually a facade of food, concealing a cabinet of EMPTY CONTAINERS.

Her dining room table is filled with junk too. For mothers day I cooked steaks and whatnot, a full meal. Looking around, I realized there was not a place to sit and enjoy the meal as family.

I politely suggested, we eat in the dining room (that is where normal people eat). Nope. She flipped her shit, spewing various excuses for her inadequacy, and suggesting I eat my steak on the patio table IN THE RAIN. while she ate hers in bed.

Reaching my limit of crazy bullshit, I stormed outside and ate my steak like a fucking dog. Not because it was a good idea, but because you can't argue with crazy. I went for a walk, until I cooled down(People give you weird looks when you're angrily gnawing a steak in the rain). When I came back, the table had been cleared and she was enjoying a calm dinner with her roommate.

She has a two car garage, with just enough space to fit her "Pontiac Solstice" (her only car). The rest is filled with crap. I do not understand why she owns this car. It is completely, and utterly impractical for her lifestyle. She needs a van. Everytime I ride with her, I have to hold stuff in my lap, because there is not enough room. Most people understand that sports cars are impractical for everyday life activites (grocery shopping, travel, commuting, etc.) and would never have such a car as their primary mode of transportation.

Much of her horde was brought in with her former boyfriends truck or her old car. She could not get rid of her crap if she wanted to. Even though she constantly speaks of "downsizing", selling the house, and moving to a different state.

She has not had full time work in the last decade, I don't understand how she affords the car or supports herself. Right before the economy tanked, she made some decent money in stocks (with inherited capital) and then lost much of that.

I am rather worried what will become of her, in her elder years. I'm assuming she's living on her retirement already. By the time she's 65 she won't have any money left. I hope to dear god she doesn't come knocking on my door, begging for support. Eventually one of her junk piles will fall and crush her, and I will inherit the horde. It will take me months to clean out that shit.

She has tools but never fixes anything.
She has plants, but never plants them.
She has books, but never reads them.
She has food, but never eats it.
She has a mind but never uses it.

I could write a whole book on crazy tales of my mother. There is much more to the story.

Sanelity said...

Argh! I know just how you feel Capt. After 30 years of marriage I have a two car garage that can't house a single car AND I have a 5x10x10 storage unit. I've frequently told my wife that if she ever predeceases me the kids will have one weekend to take what they want and then I begin making regular dump runs until it's all gone. In my mind it's all just stuff. If I haven't used it or thought about it in the last six months, I don't need it.

Fortunately she is beginning to see things my way. We have been spending weekends sorting the garage into three piles - keep, dump, goodwill. We've reduced the height of the stacks in the garage from chest high to knee high. My goal is to be able to empty the storage unit too and still get one car in to the garage.

A man can dream!

Goober said...

Well said. Excellent analysis.

I do have one caveat:

I hoard a lot of stuff for the side work that I do. It is all in the workshop, not attached to the house, and doesn't effect my family one bit, except for the extra income it brings in, and the enjoyment and physical well-being I get from tinkering on things and making them function again.

I've got an entire wall with shelves full of nuts and bolts and that sort of thing. Those shelves help make me money, because if I discarded those bolts, instead of keeping them, and bought new every time I needed bolts, I'd end up spending a bunch of the profits I make on my stuff.

I'm making a big, thick laminated work bench for a guy down the road right now. Had some all thread saved up from a project three years ago that I used for the joining clamps, and saved probably thirty bucks on buying new.

I'll sell him the top for $250, so that's a pretty large chunk of profit out the door if I didn't recycle.

Goober said...

badventist, a lot of people do exactly that.

Think about the mini-storage industry. People pay thirty to $250 bucks a month to rent a storage unit to store stuff.

Beyond a temporary need during a move or relocation, or storage for a business or something, can you think of one good reason at all why those storage facilities should even exist?
If you've got something that you don't even keep at your house, what good is it?

Anonymous said...

There are hoarders everywhere, they just have less stuff....same psychology.

Eric Mueller said...

I can't speak for the mentally ill. Most of the hoarders I've known are of the "This might be worth something someday". People who hold onto magazines and McDonald's "collectable" cups because they "might be worth something someday", in my experience, don't understand the value of anything.

My ex-inlaws were hoarders of this variety. They had a three bedroom house, and lived in the living room because all of the bedrooms were stacked full of crap. Clothes with price tags still on them; that sort of thing. Christmas decorations that were never displayed.

When they lost their house, my ex-wife and I had to do most of the work getting it cleaned out to sell. I ended up having to pay somebody to finish cleaning the basement because there wasn't enough time left in the universe for me to get all that crap out of there. I found a box of computer magazines from the 80's sitting in a puddle of water. They were ruined. Oh, yeah, they were "worth money someday" all right. Most of the stuff that might have been worth something in mint condition was rotted away.

I have a visceral reaction to hoarders too.

Last story: a guy I know buys old or crappy houses and renovates them to sell. He bought a hoarder's house. There were cat bones behind the toilet. Cats died and decompoosed among the clutter. A hoarder/crazy cat lady must be one of the worst combinations of batsh!t insanity imaginable.

Anonymous said...

You are right Cappy,

But I must say something. The older people are the ones with 'stuff'. These TV shows demonizing them is just the early phase of propaganda to convince others that these people need to be controlled and have their assets taken over by the state (public curators office)or even by their children, for their own good. Many baby-boomers have children who would be only too happy to agree that 'DAD' needs to be in an institution and would be first in line to take over their assets.
I'm sure your readers can figure out the end-game for this scenario.

Alex from Australia said...

Hoarders are just like children. Every child once he gets a toy, he wants another, then another, then... Its never enough toys. Hoarders do the same, except with other consumer goods.

I have a guy at work that is actually both a physical grown up but actually a child, that collects all sorts of DVD's, Blu-Rays, gaming consoles and loads of games for each console, transformers figurines, toys of all sort, etc. He lives in a three bedroom apartment with his family. He is betting that it will be worth something in the future. To me its just plastic junk that kids play with.

Anonymous said...

My boss is just like those hoarders Eric was talking about. I work for a two-way radio company and this guy has storage units on the property filled with shit that might have been worth something back in the 80s, but now are so obsolete they can't even be used for ham radio. Yet this same asshole wants us to keep reorganizing his shit so we can bring in more shit, some which is usable for work, some which isn't. What is worse, is even the shit that CAN be used for amateur radio hasn't been properly stored and is now slowly corroding in the humid, moldy storage units.

On top of this, we do a lot of pointless shit at our job that doesn't actually make the company money, when we have a slow week. But none of those facts matter because all that matters is whether or not the boss "feels good" about himself that his employees are "doing something." Whatever. I'll be moving on eventually anyways, though whatever passion I used to have for radio will probably be dead by then...

Scott Osmun said...

This post, moved me.

I needed to hear this. Thank you.

Scott Osmun said...

This is a very lucid, awake, and moving article.