In one of my many jobs before I became Self Employed as a Life Coach, I was a Property Manager. The job that I liked the most and least at the same time was to do an assessment of the apartment with the new tenant and then do a move out with the same person. During the assessment of the apartment the tenant was all smiles and comments about how everything was going well but when it came to the move out and the evaluation of what they had done to the apartment along with the charges that matches their miss management of it then things got a little tough. One time an owner that we had been doing business with purchased a new complex and the first thing that I did was to do an assessment of all of the apartments and their tenants. Each I would send a letter ahead of time to say what hours I would be there to evaluate any repairs or problems that they had had in the past and then to schedule those repairs etc. Each time that I went to a tenant’s apartment I got an ear full of their opinion of Charles and the condition of his apartment. So the day came when it was Charles turn and to my surprise the condition of his home was nothing of the stories I had been hearing all week from his neighbors. You see none of them had actually been in this two bedroom apartment physically but would catch glimpses of it as they passed his door.
I am not going to keep you in suspense any longer, yes Charles was a hoarder. But unlike some he was the most organized hoarder I had ever known to this day. He was very specific in his choices of “collecting.” He collected magazines and newspapers. They were piled in perfect alignment from the floor all the way to the 8 foot ceiling. They were in rows so that only you could walk if you scooted sideways through the channels that he had made from the front door to very specific and important points in the apartment. Yes, the entire two bedroom apartment was filled with paper.
I knocked on the door that day and was greeted by Charles smiling and welcoming me into his home that he had made perfect for what he believed comfortable. It was as if he was proud of all of the work that he had done to make the pillars of paper rise to the sky. As I scooted sideways and followed this man inch by inch, we came to a Y in the road and he motioned for me to go to the right and then to another Y and we went left finding ourselves to my surprise in the kitchen. Reality changed for me about ½ way in and I really thought I might find the Cheshire Cat hanging from one of the pillars asking me if I was Alice in Wonderland. As I was scooting one step after the other side ways I could only think that I had to be very careful not to knock against the pillars of paper because we would surely be buried alive. I wondered how long it would take for someone to come and find me. Somehow I guessed that Charles would find his way out as he did every day.
After we made it to the kitchen I had a sigh of relief that we had made it “somewhere.” I asked for help to make it to the front door and he said sure. I shook his hand and before saying goodbye I politely told him that we were going to move him to another apartment that would suit his needs better and that his pillars of paper would not be able to come with him. He somehow knew by my kindness that my assignment for him was not coming from judgment but to help him move on to a better life. Just to let you know I connected him with some wonderful people that did help him overcome the need to make his world very small and secure by making paper pillars.
You may wonder why I told you this story and not given you hints and tips about managing paper flow, right? Well really I have in a roundabout way telling you of the most extreme paper piles to make you feel better about yours, LOL. But just the same, I will leave you with this one thought for you to ponder upon. I asked Charles how his apartment got that way and he told me that he started with a very small pile of newspapers at the front door and he said “I don’t know how it happened Mrs. White, it just grew.”
Now I leave you with the assignment of having a wonderful day cleaning out your very small pile of papers before they grow too.