Sunday, November 04, 2007
The day the mobile shredder came to town
There was a message on my answering machine when I got home from work Thursday night. "The mobile shredder is coming to Tuckahoe!" the recording said. "Between 10am-2pm in Depot Square." Holy crap. This was a dream come true. It was like hearing my favorite rock star was coming to town to play an intimate show at the local cafe, and I was chosen to attend.
Why was I so excited? Well, I had fallen far behind in my shredding. You know, all those personal documents with bank statements, credit card numbers, social security numbers, etc. that can't just be thrown in the trash anymore because there are criminals out there sifting through your garbage while you sleep at night. Turning trash bins over like raccoons. They're stealing your numbers, stealing your identity, jetting off to exotic places all on your dime. And they must be stopped!
I had a very small shredder, a one-sheet-at-a-time kind that died suddenly last year. I had a backlog by the time I got around to buying another one. This one was slightly larger, promised to do more than one sheet at a time, you could even shred a credit card if need be. Still, by then I had a plastic bag full of documents—with more flooding in on a daily basis. Feeding these statements in by hand was hopeless, endless, like Lucy trying futilely to wrap all those chocolates on the conveyer belt before they passed her by. I just couldn't keep up. And damned if I'd start eating them. I began to wish for a huge shredder I could dump the whole load into in one shot. The size of a woodchipper. Something industrial, like Hillary used to shred her Whitewater papers. A magical machine to remove the paper albatross from around my neck.
Then, I got the call.
I went though all of my papers then. I found new piles of mail I had forgotten about. By the time I was done I had a whole Trader Joe's brown shopping bag full of sensitive, identity-laden documents. But I had to wait till Sunday morning at ten o'clock for the big moment. I was like a little kid waiting for Christmas morning. And on top of it all I had to wait an extra hour, thanks to the clocks being turned back during the night.
Finally the moment I was waiting for arrived. It was a beautiful, sunny morning. I grabbed hold of the bag and walked down to Depot Square with an extra spring in my step. There, as promised, was the mobile shredder. What a sight to behold! I was one of the first people there, and only had to wait a minute before my papers were dumped in and shot back out into the bin, cross-cut and indecipherable. What a thrilling moment! What would have taken me months to do by hand was completed in seconds. My only regret was that I couldn't do the honor myself.
Afterward, I lingered because there was also a farmer's market. Cars began to pull in to the lot, happy people with boxes full of paper to shred. Everyone stood around to watch the results, to make sure their sensitive papers were obliterated. People laughing, smiling, relieved. People united in a single cause. The mobile shredder is a uniter, not a divider. What a thing, this mobile shredder!
Now I can do one of two things. Either work with a clean slate, stay on top of my personal documents, shred them as they come in. Or I can save up again, squirrel away my statements for the next time the mobile shredder comes to town. Either way I can't lose.