In Defense Of The Junk Drawer

In kindergarten, I stole from the junk bin. It was a large cylindrical container full of doodads like sparkly plastic gems, fake coins, broken earrings, discarded erasers, etc., that we were allowed to play with during nap time. I was pretty much the only kid in my class who didn’t sleep during nap time, so I made up a fun solo game of dive and grab where I would shove my hand into the bottom of the bin, grab something, and pull it out to see whether or not I liked it. If I did, I would place it into the “treasure” pile. If not, I would throw it back and go diving again. By the end of nap time, I usually had an impressive pile of treasure but I always put everything back. At least until I discovered a shiny plastic rhinestone larger than the size of a quarter and couldn’t bring myself to part with.

I stealthily snuck it into my pocket, where I would occasionally check on it by spinning it around in my fingers throughout the remainder of the school day. When I got home I ran upstairs to my room, admired my stolen treasure, and promptly stowed it away in my junk drawer where it was soon forgotten.

That’s the thing with junk drawers: They harbor so many of these items we deem essential — and yet, we rarely even remember that we have them in the first place.
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Over the weekend while at my friend Ally and Suz’s apartment, I got a good glimpse into each of their junk drawers. Both described their drawers as “a situation” as they were overflowing with random trinkets like expired IDs and sunglasses still adorned with its price tag.

“I don’t even know what’s in here,” Ally said, assessing her “situation” of miscellaneous doohickeys. “There’s so much shit in here, let me just get it for you,” Suz interjected as I went rummaging in her drawer for red lipstick.

But, Suz and Ally are not unique with their disheveled drawers. In fact, I have three of them. All of which hold a collection of crap that I — capital N — Need.

In one drawer, I have crumpled-up stickers, a broken pair of headphones, various keys whose locks I’m unaware of, old business cards, and double-sided tape. In another, I have unused notebooks, a tangle of cords to devices I no longer own, and the student ID of this girl named Samantha who I am no longer friends with. I’ll spare you the humdrum in describing the contents of my third junk drawer (okay, fine, there’s a crumpled up Kleenex in there and I don’t want to talk about it), but the thing to take away here is that not only do we all have junk drawers, but their contents, rogue as they may be, serve a purpose.
For example, I scrambled around my apartment for thirty minutes the other day in search of tape. Of course I wouldn’t keep such a thing in an obvious place like my desk drawer. No, I keep tape in my junk drawer because my junk drawer is in a more central location. The one problem is that I rarely look in my junk drawer, so finding the tape can take a half an hour but I’m confident that it’s where it should be. Know why? Because when I found the tape I also found a gift card for a free Uber ride. BOOM.

On a different occasion, I was stressing about pulling a last minute Halloween costume together. I was convinced that nothing I had would work until I opened a junk drawer, pulled out an old corncob pipe and BAM! One sailor hat and can of spinach later, I was Popeye.
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That’s the thing about junk drawers: You rarely know what’s in them, but they almost never fail to produce something that you need, particularly when in a bind.

So, now that I’ve confessed to hoarding a crumpled up tissue in one of my junk drawers, I’ve gotta ask...WHAT’S IN YOURS?!
Oh, and P.S., I returned the stolen rhinestone out of pure guilt when I found it three weeks later while searching for something else.

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