Thursday, December 16, 2010

Domestic Archaeology

I am a domestic archaeologist.  Everyday when I go to work two things usually happen.
One- we find something that was lost.
Two- we find something of monetary value.
It might not be the lost city of Atlantis, but somewhere in the piles of clutter are treasures that are priceless to my clients

Sometimes I ask clients, "Is there anything that is missing that we could be on the lookout for as we organize?" The list of lost items includes pearl earrings, certificates- birth, marriage, and death, books, ipods, keys, wedding bands, and photos. Birth certificates are often misplaced after getting a passport or enrolling in kindergarten and are typically found in a plastic grocery bag. My theory is that it is part of the "it-was-on-the-table-and-we-put-in-a-bag-to-clear-the-table-for-company" scenario. Other items just get buried or fall behind furniture.  I suspect lots of money is spent each year on replacing lost things as part of the high cost of being disorganized.

The second category of treasure hunting is the monetary.  We could probably make a dent in the National Debt with the amount of loose change in drawers, jars, milk jugs, purses, brief cases, and laundry rooms. Organizers stress having a specific location for each item in your home and coins are no different. Use a piggy bank or re-purposing a loved vase or mug at the location when coins are found.  I have a small bank on the shelf over the washer for "money laundering".  If you know the joy of finding a $20 bill in a coat pocket, you can imagine the joy on the face of someone finding a envelope of  six $100 bills. Other things of monetary value that I have found includes gift certificates, uncashed checks (often inside greeting cards), stock certificates, and once a large bar of silver. The silver was found on a basement floor under piles of post Christmas sale purchases.  It was an example of what everyone was to inherit on the death of a dear uncle, but was brought downstairs to clear the table for Christmas dinner.

I will push the archaeology analogy a little further if I may.  People often save baby teeth (really this isn't too weird) that we find in little white jewelry boxes, BUT other human pieces-parts like desiccated umbilical cords, preserved tonsils, toenails, and the cremated remains of ex-husbands found in attics and file drawers I could live without.
I love my job.  I love the warm fuzzy of helping someone improve the quality of their life.  I love finding money and valuables, but the real goal is helping my clients learn how to keep these things from being lost.

What have you lost?  Or found?