Fifteen years ago, I bought a magnificent office chair made especially for me out of sycamore wood.
I had seen this chair at an artisan show in Evanston and was immediately stunned by its beauty. I asked the maker if he could build one for me. He gave me the option of a few different woods, and I chose sycamore because I had never seen a sycamore office chair. The price was absurdly expensive, but my wife and I had been acquiring unique art pieces for our home, and I knew this chair would be something to cherish in my office.
After about a four month wait, my one and only sycamore chair was delivered. I eagerly unpacked it, sat down in it, and in my heart of hearts and my well-padded ass, I knew I had just bought a gorgeous chair that was PAINFUL to sit in.
No matter how I manipulated the chair and my body it felt uncomfortable, with wood slats in the back and a seat that left my legs feeling numb.
But I kept the thing. It’s a chair for an occasional visitor who does not stay long. I sit in it myself every once in a while to see if it has gotten more comfortable with age.
It is Lloyd’s $2,800 office chair (I never told anybody what I paid for it).
Why don’t I sell it on eBay or give it to Goodwill? It is because I do not want to admit my own folly. But after writing this piece I have finally decided to get rid of my sycamore stupidity–I think.
Noah and I were discussing this yesterday as he sat on the chair and announced, “Dad, this thing is really uncomfortable.”
“Yeah, I know,” I said meekly.
And Noah said, “Why don’t you get rid of it. Just like those three old 1” Wickmans that have to be rebuilt, which we have been paying rent on every month to store in a cold warehouse for several years.” And I nodded, yes.
Over the years, we have acquired an assortment of duds. It’s just the nature of the used machinery business. We look for value in other people’s mistakes. We have a fortune invested in “sexy ugly” machines. Most of the time it works out well. We clean them or rehab them, or just sell them to somebody who sees value or even beauty in the pieces.
But some stuff languishes, and we send it off to an old warehouse in a dangerous neighborhood in Chicago we have used for 50 years. We pay consistently rising rent on the machines until we finally admit our mistakes.
The real truth is that we just want to forget about those old ugly Wickmans, which we bought in Detroit because we thought they were a bargain.
Don’t most of us have stuff that we forget about most of the time? I have a ping pong table folded in my basement. I haven’t used it since my seven retina surgeries in 2003.
We store heavy luggage I never use, my grownup sons’ baseball cards and comic books, and a 50-year-old world atlas.
I also have a forgotten safe deposit box in a bank that’s changed hands seven times.
In a few days, it will be the Jewish holiday Passover. We used to move out all the non-Passover food and change the dishes. These days we are not quite so strict about the ritual, but we will still clean the house and prepare it for the holiday. We will get rid of what we call the “chametz,” the food associated with the forbidden leavened bread.
And this is the year I will give away my beautiful, painful sycamore chair.
Questions: What things or ideas have you held onto that you should have discarded long ago?
How do you get rid of unwanted items?