The Extinction of the Pack Rat

Although I do not exhibit the same obsessive-compulsive qualities, my family is comprised of notorious pack rats. Every drawer overfloweth with random bobs and crusty old bits that may, in the delusional corners of my parents’ minds, yet be the solution to some future need. Jars of keys sit as sad testaments to decades of left-behind suitcases, cars, lockers and apartments. Pee-Wee-Herman-like, an enormous boulder of tin foil bulges the closet door forward pregnantly. The basement is full of thousands of unlabeled VHS tapes; the stairs are stacked with hundreds of romance novels that my mother always commanded me never to tell anyone she actually read.

Apparently, in a dustier by-gone era, practically everyone was like my parents. The Mercury Register Online has a great article pondering why everyone in the fifties and sixties saved practically everything: string, rubber bands, tin foil, paper bags, you name it. What’s changed between then and now? The author uses string as an example: kids used to use it for kites, parents used to use it to wrap packages. Why is string less useful to us now than it once was?

I’d like to suggest one possible answer, besides the ubiquity of tape: maybe all of us grew up and saw what happened to our parents’ houses when decades worth of obsessive collecting turned them into gigantic dusty trash heaps.

Curious demise of the pack rat [Mercury Register Online]