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Jewish World Review July 17, 2002 / 8 Menachem-Av, 5762

Andy Rooney

Andy Rooney
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Consumer Reports

A great pile of piles | It's not clear whether putting things in piles helps or not. I put different things in different piles, and what I end up with is a pile of piles.

At the end, I don't know which pile is which, or what's in one pile and what's in another. I need a pile file but cannot find one in any stationery store.

There are many accessory tools that go into the making of a paper pile. I don't use paper clips, but sometimes an elastic band is useful. When I do my taxes, for example, I organize papers by holding certain groups of them together, not with paper clips, but with elastic bands.

Folders are a good addition to a pile of papers, but the metal device known as a stapler is a curse on mankind. Hardly anyone in all history has ever stapled papers together without later regretting it when they realized the papers had to be separated.

Fortunately for mankind, shortly after the stapler was introduced, somebody undertook the task of inventing the staple remover. Statistics show that staple removers have been used on 87 percent of all the staples ever employed. A relatively simple device, the remover will likely go down in the annals of good inventions as superior to the stapler itself.

Elastic bands, also known as rubber bands, have many uses besides holding pages of income tax information together. They are more helpful than either paper clips or staples in organizing piles of a wide variety of papers. I separate papers in envelopes from loose papers, although I don't have a real plan for which things I leave in their envelopes and which things I remove from them. The one clear drawback to rubber bands in holding together a pile of papers is that the pile must be substantial. A flimsy little pile of papers cannot withstand the ability of the rubber band to contract, pull together the pages and make a roll of them. You cannot pile rolled papers.

After I get more piles of paper than will fit on my desk and still leave room for my telephone, I get a box and pile the piles in that. Then I take the box and pile it on top of another box of papers. Four tall is the highest it's practical to pile boxes of papers, although I have gone as high as six. A box with its top is about 12 inches high, so it's not practical for a person 5-feet-9-inches tall to pile storage boxes higher than he is. (I say, "he is," but you understand I also mean, "she is.")

The piles of papers in my basement at home are, generally speaking, higher than those in my office. My basement is not a public place and I'm less concerned about what it looks like because it only looks like that to me. No one else sees it. It is my constant thought that "someday" I'll have time to go through all my papers, save the good stuff and discard the junk. I have not set a deadline for accomplishing this and, of course, I worry. It has recently occurred to me that "someday" may never come.

What I've tried to do today is pass on to readers all the information and experience I've accumulated over the years on how to organize your life and all the papers in it.

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