We’ve all got one. Though there might be a few of you who are slow to admit it.
But facts are facts. When you’re looking for something small for a task around the house, there’s really only one place to go: the “junk drawer.”
Need a pen? A Post-it notepad? A paper clip? How about some spare change? Check the junk drawer.
Long a staple of American households, I’m betting you have just such a drawer, likely in your kitchen. And you can probably remember exactly where the junk drawer was in the house where you grew up.
When I was a kid, our junk drawer was right under the microwave. It was a repository for all of the things you might expect: pencils, safety pins, coupons for pizza places, the local phone book. Yes, children, there used to be things called “phone books.” Actual books made of paper, that listed phone numbers for everybody in town. I grew up in Abbeville, and our phone book was about the size of one of those Archie comic books you can pick up at the grocery store. We’d also get a “Savannah Lakes regional” phone book which included numbers for McCormick County, and businesses in Greenwood. That, too, was wedged in the junk drawer.
But the junk drawer at my childhood home also often included some things you might not immediately expect, like screws, washers, small nails and other bits of hardware that my Dad might have needed at a moment’s notice for a small fix-it job. Honestly, I think he could have constructed a decent-sized storage shed or a small mother-in-law cottage just with the things that were in that drawer under the microwave.
Flash forward to today, and now I’ve got a junk drawer in my own home. Well, actually, rather than one junk drawer under the microwave, we’ve got three of them. (Don’t worry, there are plenty of other drawers for silverware, pot holders, and each of my wife’s roughly 6,194 kitchen gadgets.)
Our junk drawers have all the usual suspects. Scissors, Sharpie pens and markers, little flashlights, push pins, postage stamps, a stapler. There also is an alarming number of lighters in the drawers, both the traditional cigarette-style lighters and those long “trigger” ones. And a big box of matches. Of note: We don’t smoke, nor do we have a wood-burning fireplace, so I’m not entirely sure why we have a dozen lighters and an industrial-size box of matches, but there they are.
But there are other things, too. In just a cursory look through the junk drawers last week, I also found some of those felt pads you put under furniture on hardwood floors, a first-generation iPad, the paperwork for a “lifetime fabric protection plan,” several of those clips for potato chip bags, drink Coozies, $7 in cash, an envelope with my daughter’s school photos, and two bottles of Elmer’s glue.
There’s also a book in there titled “The 10-Day Green Smoothie Cleanse.” Somehow, a book about drinking smoothies for 10 days is 167 pages long. I found it under a sheet of old Burger King coupons.
Now, many people would likely tell you to get rid of some of the stuff in your junk drawer. Heck, TV host and author Marie Kondo has made an entire career out of promoting organization and getting rid of things if they don’t “spark joy” in your life.
I’m not sure our kitchen junk drawers spark joy, but I can spark an actual fire with one of my dozen lighters, while at the same time having my choice of about 50 pens with which I can jot down a list of items I’ll need from the store to make 10 days worth of green smoothies, while also brushing up on a lifetime of fabric protection.
Because, hey, you never know when you might need a lifetime of fabric protection.