OK, maybe it’s the heat. I mean, working outside when it’s 104 degrees (Fahrenheit) in Arizona is a risky venture. Brain damage is possible or at least irrationality can occur.

What I’m talking about is the desire, the need, the uncontrollable urge to save and hoard fasteners. Screws, if you will. I recently cleaned out our work room, a sort of laundry room/junk room/storage room/workbench-minus-the-bench situation. I do have a mighty fine Craftsmen rolling toolbox, compliments of my dad back when we first bought our house.

Anyway, I cleaned that room out, (only to restock it full of all the junk we can’t get rid of), and in the process I discovered cans and boxes and containers of screws, bolts, nuts, assorted washers, pipe clamps, wire, security thingamajigs, wood screws, metal screws, drywall screws, finely threaded screws, coarsely threaded screws, nails, bungee cords, a plethora of extension cords, myriad hooks, and more bits of fastening hardware than I will ever be able to use in a lifetime, even if I built us a house with my own two hands.

At the time, (last week), I vowed that I would limit my collection for the next little while. I mean, how much does some of this stuff cost? A few dollars for some screws WHEN you actually need them seems like a fair and sane price to pay. It’s really not a big deal to go to the store when you need something, is it? But that’s part of it isn’t it? That sense of discovery, of getting to reuse something, the thrill of sticking it to the imaginary Man, like we’ve somehow cheated the hardware police out of a few cents. So I too have my little pretzel container full of screws and their necessary anchors for those spots in the drywall that never seem to have a stud where you actually would like it to be when you are trying to hang a picture of your beautiful children, but I digress.

In the process of the big summer cleanup I promised myself that I would refrain from keeping any unused screws or nuts and bolts that come my way.

Two days later, after finishing the installation of transition pieces on the laminate floor in our bedroom, (a project that began last October), I noticed a few extra screws. Yep! I dropped them in the container on the shelf over the dryer. Why? I don’t know.

Back to today and the heat and the working outside at two in the afternoon.

We just got some new umbrellas for out back, not that we’ll really use them until November, but they were the “right” price, you know? Anyway, they are actually for the beach, but I sawed off the corkscrew piece that goes in the sand and now they work perfectly for a patio umbrella stand. (Yes, I recycled the corkscrew pieces! They were plastic and useless anyway.) But the umbrellas had this folding handle to help screw them into the sand, which would make it impossible to feed the pole through our freshly painted outdoor table, (the spray paint I’ve used on that table could coat the Golden Gate, if they wanted to paint it yellow, but that’s another story). So, I removed the handle and in doing so I saw that the piece had a nice fastener, a machined hex-bolt deal that might come in handy someday…

I’m so ashamed. I blame the heat!

The stupid things are sitting out there now, just starting to collect the first specks of dust in what will be an eternity of disuse. Future archaeologists will find them piled up and at first think that they have stumbled upon a 21st Century trash heap. Nope, sorry future Indiana Jones, just my storage room!

What makes us do it? I know I’m not alone. My own father had a number of those little metal containers with the plastic drawers on his workbench, all of them chock full of discarded screws, bolts, nuts, and washers. His father, a railroad engineer, had a similar malady and then some. My grandpa on my mother’s side had a mountain of metal refuse in his basement when he died. His workshop up on the farm was equally stocked with various saved odds and ends, all of them threaded and orphaned. My father-in-law has his own collection, it’s actually quite impressive and highly organized to his unique specifications; in other words don’t bother looking, you won’t find it, just ask him. A little self-preservation, you see!

I’m not sure why we do it. Most of this stuff comes from projects that are long finished or from furniture and home-appliances that had extra hardware in the box. Perhaps we all feel like we paid for it so we might as well keep it. Maybe it is instinctual, like a remnant of our ancient past when thinking ahead and squirreling away odd bits of whatever might one day save us from a dire wolf or saber-toothed tiger. It must have worked because those species are no longer with us.

“You never know when this might come in handy,” is a phrase uttered by every man or woman who ever found an extra screw lying around after finishing whatever they were working on. Or maybe it’s just men? Is it a gender-specific sickness? Is it a male-pattern-hoarding situation?

I don’t know, but I tell you now, at this moment, here at my kitchen table, I will not save any more screws or fasteners of any kind! (Unless they look like they could come in really handy sometime.) So there it is. I’ve pledged my allegiance to the cessation of clutter and hoarding of screws and nuts and bolts and random junk that I may find or purchase.

Yeah, right!

Do you think I have heat stroke? I feel like this whole thing has been screwy.


4 thoughts on “Screwy

  1. If it’s heatstroke, we’ve got it here, too! Maybe it’s just an unexplained phenomenon….both of us keep all of those “extras” for that distant day in the future when they will be needed. Maybe we could get together and open up a store….screws R us?

  2. In the last month I’ve used iron sheeting, timber, hundreds of screws, nails, bolts, nuts and washers of all sorts.

    They’ve been in the shed for over 7 years. I saved around $1,500 in building the kids a fort. Next is an extension on the shed, all from hoarded parts…

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