One of my guilty pleasures is the TV show Hoarders. One of the problems of living in Japan is I only recently discovered it. I remember hearing about it when I was in the USA several years ago, but never had a chance to watch it until recently. It hasn’t had the effect I thought it would.
To explain this, you also have to know that one of my other guilty pleasures is the Rodney Dangerfield movie “Back to School.” This is mostly for it’s great lines “Bring us a pitcher of beer every seven minutes until somebody passes out; and then bring one every ten minutes.” and a terrific cameo by Kurt Vonnegut. The line that’s applicable this time, though, is “if you want to look thin, you hang out with fat people”.
I expected hoarders to be like that; no matter how bad the “variety room” is, it’s not as bad some of the places on Hoarders. In comparison my home is rather clean. What I saw, though, was the places that were a bit too close to home. We have a small apartment and a lot of stuff and one room that serves as our storage room. The rest of the apartment is clean (except two cluttered bookshelves) but the variety room triples as an office for two, overflow storage and, no joke, temporary trash storage. The latter is a result of Japan’s goofy recycling laws and a difference in philosophy between myself and She Who Must Be Obeyed.
SWMBO is the conscientious Japanese lady following the rules and trying to neither cause trouble nor give the appearance of being a rule breaker. I’m the guy who likes to point out that while cardboard is, technically, recyclable garbage, it is also burnable garbage. I’m also the guy willing to argue with the lady serving as the trash police (until I remember that, this year, SWMBO IS the trash police).
That said, I believe the recyclables should be stored outside on the balcony until it’s time to put them in the trash area. (Japan has areas for trash, not dumpsters. Long story.) That, however, is not done with all recyclable trash as the city doesn’t want it water damaged and moldy.
The result is piles of cardboard, card stock, paper and old bags taking up space on the floor and on a shelf in the variety room. It doesn’t take up that much space, but the psychological effect is surprising. It gets in the way of our real storage and the sense of disorder makes it very easy to add just one more bit of trash, or to start just one more pile next to it. That’s especially true since one of the office mates is a teenager.
The most disturbing part is how easy it is to get used to it. After a while you don’t even really see it. It’s just part of the furniture. That’s the effect watching Hoarders has had on me. I actually understand the Hoarders more than I should.