I went for a dental check-up and cleaning this week. The procedure is always the same: wait in the uncomfortable lobby, pick up one of the magazines and pretend to read, the dental hygienist calls you in, sit down, open your mouth, she talks to you but you cannot respond so resort to nodding and saying uh-huh, the dentist comes in, says “everything looks great” and leaves, then all of a sudden you’re back home holding a little gift bag filled with a tiny toothpaste tube, a tiny floss box, a toothbrush with the name and phone number of the dentist on it, and other trinketry.
I opened the drawer and put the bag away next to gift bags from prior visits. All of them unused.
Later that day I went for a haircut. I paid at the counter and they gave me a small card with the date and time of my next appointment. It went inside my glovebox, never to be seen again.
I lie. I do see these things when I’m not looking for them, and their sighting stress me out. All these items that create clutter but have some trivial and fleeting value and that I keep around long after their expiration date.
What would a wise man do? Refuse them in the first place, accept them and then immediately and coldly throw them away, set an expiration date and discard them once they reach it?
Dentist's gift bags
I put them away thinking they will come handy in my next trip, which is true, but the reality is that the influx of gift bags exceeds their outflow.. one bag lasts for several trips, new bags pile in.
Soy sauce packets when ordering to-go at sushi restaurants
These packets become ubiquitous in random kitchen drawers, I never use them because I have shoyu at home… the same goes for plastic utensils. “To go” means to eat at home where there is electricity, a table and chairs, stainless steel utensils, and YouTube. Only savages eat in the car.
Travel kit when flying business class
Okay, you fly business once, and they give you a travel kit. It’s reusable, but then the next time you fly, you accept the new travel kit offered to you because “it may be better than the one I already have just here inside my carry-on bag."
Fortune strips inside fortune cookies
What to do with these is extremely perplexing. Is it better to leave the fortune cookie unopened? Leave the restaurant without knowing your fortune and at the same time slightly insulting the restaurant owner? Because once you take your fortune strip with you, it’s not easy to let go of it, it becomes part of the future you.
Holiday greeting cards with photos of family
I receive many holiday cards from friends, coworkers, and vendors. Almost all of them go in the trash can upon receipt. But some have personal messages handwritten in them, or nice photos of family vacations, and they are cute. I keep them around, sometimes adorning my office and, next thing I know, it’s December again.
Pennies, dimes, nickels
Anything less than a quarter should disappear from the economy. We are a cashless system already anyway.
In the era of Google Calendar, Outlook, iCal, what’s the need for these? In the pre-internet era, what was the need for these? Beyond being a subtle sign of courtesy, they were always useless, just as the next item on the list
The second drawer in my office is dedicated to business cards, I have thousands of them. I meet somebody, we exchange business cards, the meeting ends, the card goes into the drawer. If I ever need to contact her, I use Google, LinkedIn, or ask somebody who knows how to reach her.
Sometimes people who I already know and whom I do frequent business with give me a business card. As soon as I see them pulling the cardholder out of their side pocket, I congratulate them on their promotion… because that’s the only reason they do it.
That’s my list for now. And I’m sure it will grow, as I go about with a more acute radar for these high tonnage, small size, fleeting value trinkets.