The file man

I’VE MAINTAINED a file cabinet for decades. I find filing satisfying. When I left Houston, I culled wildly, keeping just the bare bones, which I packed over the Rio Bravo.

new-imageI bought a new file cabinet, resuming the habit.

I have insurance files (one for homes, one for cars), bank files (two banks), investment files, three house files (two here, one in Mexico City), receipt file, tourism file, health file, and many more.

But my favorite is the Miscellaneous File where I keep stuff that doesn’t belong elsewhere. Yesterday, killing time at home due to having a cold, I opened Miscellaneous.

It’s a trip down Memory Lane.

  1. Press passes with mug shots. One from my first job, New Orleans. I’m clean-shaven, 24 years old, in a dress shirt and tie. Another for the San Juan Star. I’m 30, My collar is open, and I have Fu Manchu mustache. The third, Houston Chronicle, age 39, shows me in a dress shirt and tie but with the full black beard of a Hells Angel.
  2. Expired passports. Two U.S. and one Mexican. The older U.S. passport shows me in eyeglasses. That’s a no-no now. Both Mexican and U.S. passports were renewed this year, likely for the last time. I’m not immortal.
  3. Air Force shoulder patch. It’s a large circle that says F-106 Dart. The Delta Dart was an interceptor aircraft, and I maintained survival-equipment pods in the ejection seats. Had I not screwed up so much of my youth, I would have been flying the F-106 instead.
  4. A bookmark. On textured blue paper and inscribed with a haiku of my father’s: cajun cabin/the aroma of hot gumbo/floats on the bayou. His name, dates, and the phrase American Haiku Master, which he was.
  5. Air Force discharge. Two versions. One suitable for framing, and the other with dates and mumbo-jumbo.
  6. new-imageA watercolor sketch. Of me, done by local artist Arturo Solis. He just walked over and handed it to me one day years ago while I was on the plaza enjoying a cafecito. We have a number of his works hanging on our walls.
  7. Drug formula. For committing suicide. You never know when it may come in handy. The Hemingway method is messy. Anyway, I don’t own a shotgun.
  8. Texas driver’s license. I arrived with it. It expired six years later, and I never renewed. My DL now is Mexican.
  9. Solo certificate. On the 28th day of June, 1976, I took off alone and returned to the New Orleans Lakefront Airport in a Cessna 152. Suitable for framing. I don’t fly anymore.
  10. A love note. From my wife on my birthday in 2003. We had been married almost 18 months.
  11. Final electric bill. Houston, dated Jan. 8-12, 2000. Amount: $86.02 for just four days 16 years ago. That’s approximately what I pay now in a year at the Hacienda.
  12. Certification card. International Bartending Institute. Dated May 7, 1982. I am a certified bartender. Whoopee!
  13. Flying license. I became a pilot of small planes on Oct. 26, 1976. The license never expires. You do have to renew your medical certificate, however. The last medical expired June 1, 1978. There’s also a radio permit in the envelope.
  14. Cremation certificate. My mother was cremated on Jan. 8, 2009, at Atlanta Crematory Inc. in Stone Mountain, Georgia. She had made it to age 90.
  15. Divorce papers. I had them in this file until fairly recently, but I tossed them into the trash. Two divorces. Two utterly miserable experiences that I’ll never repeat. I would prefer the Hemingway solution.

If you got all the way down here, you deserve a Gold Medal. I also have a Letters file.

Maybe I’ll spill that here some day. That’s where the love notes are stored. I love love letters.

14 thoughts on “The file man”

  1. On Monday I stopped on the way to the family property to buy a Houston Chronicle to wrap up fragile items I was taking home with me. I was looking for the Chronicle because I thought it would be the biggest newspaper. The Monday edition was a thin twenty pages or so at a cost of $1.00.

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    1. Jeez, Bev, that’s sure interesting. I don’t know what the Chronicle’s circulation is now, but when I worked there it was one of the 10 largest papers in the nation, circulation wise, and it was usually pretty fat.

      I really lucked out, time-wise, because within a year or so after I retired, they started laying people off, including quite a few that I know. Newspapers in their paper form are going the way of the buggy whip.

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  2. I await my gold medal.

    As for love letters, I shredded a suitcase full of them when I sold the Salem house. I had not looked at any of them in decades. (I know. It says a lot about me.)

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  3. I went through and cleaned out some of my files the other week. Bank statements from Bital took up about half a drawer, so I don’t think I needed them especially since Bital hasn’t been around for years. It was interesting to see the stuff we hang on to,
    I am curious about your suicide drug formula. Now that’s a quirky item if I think about it, but perfectly reasonable.

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    1. Tancho: Incredible that you have half a drawer of Bital statements. Get organized, old boy! As for the suicide option, it’s something I like to keep open, not really so quirky, I think.

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  4. Felipe, we share a common trait. My file cabinets were overflowing. I’ve spent some time recently cleaning them out. It’s amazing what you file away thinking you’ll surely need it at some point in the future. I found paid receipts for DR bills when my sons were born (24 and 20 years ago), receipts for furniture purchased to fill my wife and I’s first apartment, bank statements too old to mention. Most all of them had my SSN on them! No one would even consider doing that now. I thought I’d burn up my shredder getting rid of all that paper. Still got more paper filed away in banker’s boxes in a closet. That shredder still might bite the dust!

    Happy Thanksgiving!

    Regards,
    Troy

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    1. Troy: While I do like to keep files, I am also a neat freak, so I go through them on occasion and cull. Most of my files are up to date, and most are things I really should have on hand. I don’t keep bank statements or receipts from 40 years ago. I don’t even keep my tax statements more than the required six years, I think it is.

      I hope I’ve inspired you to get that shredder cranked up.

      As for a Happy Thanksgiving, alas, there is no Thanksgiving down here. Yes, the Gringos in these parts often plan something together, and sometimes a hotel will cater to them. However, I’ve been gone so long that I really don’t pay much attention to it anymore.

      But I send best wishes for a happy and food-filled day. Thanksgiving was always my favorite U.S. holiday. You had to do little more than show up at the table. No gifts to buy, no lights to string, no trees to lug home. What could be better than that?

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  5. I was reminded yesterday that my file cabinet is a major part of my life — my history and memorabilia. The interesting fact is it intrigues my family as to just what is there. Historical newspaper clippings of special events are stored there. Love following both your blog and Steve Cotton as the contrast of how two men view daily life. Happy Thanksgiving to all.

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    1. Pat: There are no newspaper clippings in my files

      Thanks for the kind words. As for Steve and me, we do view daily life very differently. That happens even though he is a very smart guy.

      Enjoy Thanksgiving too. I wish I could dig into something more this afternoon than enchiladas, but they are good enchiladas.

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