Some people contend that that our society is divided by “haves and have-nots”; others claim that the Great Divide is between Democrats and Republicans, or Liberals and Conservatives; still others run the gamut, not excluding Yankees v. Red Sox, or the fallback catch-all – “Us and Them. My perspective, after many years of superficial thought, is that it’s the split between Packrats and Neatniks.
Examine any household or office. You’ll invariably find that there are those who are compulsively neat (full disclosure: unfortunately, I’m not one of those), and there are the others – the slobs to put it bluntly (ahem: I tend in that direction).
Extreme Neatniks can be almost beyond belief. They spend their lives cleaning, dusting, arranging things in perfect rows or combinations, and generally distrusting dogs and other less neat pets. To those of us who cannot match their high standard of neatness we find ourselves envious and also guilty. Why can’t we organize our lives so that we can always find things, have matching clothing right in front of us, and even eat off the floors – although I’ve never met anyone who ever ate off a floor.
Packrats, obviously, are the opposite. They follow the true path of the Collier Brothers, collecting everything in sight and never letting anything go. Old theater programs, scorecards, ribbons, ticket stubs, pieces of candy, matchbooks, rubber bands and on and on. It piles up. Strangely enough many apparent slobs inevitably seem able to find a document or scrap of something-or-other nested in a heap resembling a waste fill. Once that heap is disturbed and reorganized neatly the packrat is lost. Nothing is where it should be in the rubble pile!
In some households the Packrats have allowed “things” to overwhelm all else. The usual example is the stationary bike. It is meant for exercise, and Neatniks invariably keep it pristine and instantly available to keep resident Neatniks healthy beyond belief. On the other hand, Packrats instantly convert stationary bikes to their true purpose – a perfect clothes rack. Why bother to arrange your clothing neatly in a closet when you can have it there for you in an instant! Venture forth into just about any Packrat establishment, and the odds are that it will resemble nothing so much as a consignment shop or charity store. Clothes, books, unused kitchen appliances, newspapers are everywhere. Need a pen? There are about 200 on the desk – if you can plow through the papers piled about two feet high. And always remember: on various television shows we learn that old, useless stuff usually appreciates dramatically in value if kept around for about 100 years. So, keep the junk, pass it along to your progeny and they will get rich beyond belief. That’s my view and I’m sticking to it. The alternative (neatness) is simply too much work at this point in life.
There’s an important message in all of this. When searching for a mate the searcher and searchee should carefully examine whether they are (a) both Neatniks, (b) both Packrats or (c) a compatible, if unlikely, combination of both. This is the key to a long lasting relationship. Fie on haves and have-nots and the rest. Save Society with this simple solution!