Wednesday, June 29, 2011

File That One Away

I have a new filing cabinet.

Unless you are an academic or other variety of papervore, you probably don’t understand why this is such thrilling news to me. Great, you say, rolling your eyes, you have a new storage unit for things you probably won’t ever look at again – how nice.

Poor, poor you.

I’ve been trying to organize my papers recently, since I am an inveterate archivist and also organizing papers is a nearly productive way to avoid actual work and my World History Prior to 1500 class is kicking my butt three ways to Sunday. The problem is that historians are papervores. We ingest paper. We emit paper. We surround ourselves with mounds of paper. And we can’t really bear to part with any of it. If you don’t keep it organized it will eventually mulch down and raise your insurance rates.

Spontaneous combustion? Historians.

The problem is that filing cabinets are expensive, especially if you want one that isn’t made of tin foil. So I wandered on down to the used office furniture supply place here in Our Little Town – a place full of the detritus of failed enterprises, which are fairly common in this part of the economy – to see what they had that I could afford.

And I found the perfect filing cabinet for my needs, a two-drawer legal-sized thing made of depleted uranium and sad stories and heavy enough to cause distortions in space/time. I can look in the drawer and find things I haven't even written yet, which is handy. Perhaps my class will show up sometime soon and all I'll have to do is copy it over in my own handwriting. It's worth a shot.

It also came with an assortment of highlighters and a couple of CDs full of corporate information from the original owner. I kept the pens, but the CDs I gave to the office supply guy. “You wouldn’t believe the things people leave in those cabinets,” he said.

Getting it into the house was a trick that involved a dolly, an improvised ramp and a slight but statistically significant expansion of the boundaries of the English language’s already vast category of obscenities. If I could only remember them I’d send a list off to the copyright office in order to get royalties whenever someone else buys one of these filing cabinets.

The one thing I forgot to do was measure the height of the space I had, though. My desk at home is a steel door resting on two other filing cabinets, both of which were a bit over two inches shorter than my new best friend and I was just NOT going to take that thing back to the store. So an afternoon of clearing my desk and shimming up the other cabinet with 1x3’s and old shelves and I’m back in business.

And now my chair fits all the way under my desk too! I tell you, it was a banner day here in Baja Canada.


Unknown said...

And here I felt guilty about stalking the UCFers, I had no idea I was in such good company. Hi David, I followed Nathan's link.

Not to take anything away from your funny story but I'm curious as to why you didn't go the digital scanner route for your storage needs.

David said...

I always try to follow the lead of Millon de Floss (SpecOp-33, Amalgamated Union of Stalkers) and stalk the interesting ones.

You raise an interesting question, especially since many of the documents in my files are already on my computer, since that was where they were created in the first place.

The short answer is that I just don't trust digital storage. The long answer is a tale of my love/hate relationship with technology that includes such highlights as sending my first email in 1986 but still using a manual typewriter well into the 90s.

I can make prints from 150-year-old glass plate negatives at almost any professional photo shop in the country, but try reading a 10-year-old computer disc sometime.

Beatrice Desper said...

I'm kind of with you on the photo thing. I take pictures on a digital camera but I have them printed and put in albums.

I'm pissed that my camera is starting to break. It's only five or six years old.