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Real Reality From Our House: Losing the paper chase

By Tracy Herz

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- I love being organized -- a place for everything, and everything in its place. I was always a good manager of me.

Before I got married, I kept my cubicle tidy, my bed made and I had only one piece of work on my desk at a time. I met or exceeded all my deadlines, was rarely late for anything. I fought political battles at the office and generally won because my paper trail was irrefutable.

My clothes were hung by color on identical hangers. I could go to a file and put my hands on my first-grade report card.

Compromises have since been made.

There are more papers and clothes on the floor and the dining room table than there are in the filing cabinets and the closets. I have no idea what any of it is or where it belongs, and I don't have a plan.

My husband generates about 7 inches of paperwork each day. I try not to look at the mailbox or the inbox, because each piece of mail requires essentially 12 steps: opening, reading, throwing away the envelope, calling people, negotiating, arguing with insurance or unauthorized credit card/smart-phone-charge criminals, filing, note taking, calendar notes, calendar checking, and running to the malls for the school, or running to the school for the malls.

This is just the email and the U.S. Postal Service that I'm talking about. Not time-sensitive Fed Ex or UPS mail.

I cannot count the times that the landline telephone, which has at least 50 unchecked messages at this time, has been turned off.

Each unchecked message will require an action or a set of actions.

We haven't used the landline in months, because I am the ONLY person who puts the phone in the charger, and I quit. I haven't seen a handset or heard the talking Caller ID in months.

When Frontier took over from Verizon in West Virginia, at first they were nice.

Now they shut it off and leave a nasty note in an email account I rarely check. This doesn't embarrass me in the least. I'm just thankful I remember to pay the electric and the water.

When we had our first son, I still believed in New Year's resolutions. So I took the HUGE BOX of unopened mail and went through it meticulously before the ball dropped in Times Square.

Now I ignore everything that is not personally interesting or practically urgent, to include the deeply mysterious activities of Independence Blue Cross Blue Shield of Pennsylvania and its "Personal Care" program. Contrary to the marketing scheme, they only answer the phone if you want to enroll.

Sometimes I like to hit "1" for "enroll" and chew out the person who answers.

"Why is it," I ask, "that you people answer the phone if I want to enroll, but NOT if I am already enrolled? Put me through to the top!"

So they transfer me to an agent, which takes 40 minutes. I have simply stopped calling at all. I'll call them in a few years. I have no idea what they are doing to me. They are making me sick.

Meanwhile, the mail keeps stacking up. Things on the desk and things on the floor and things in the drawers are unopened since 2010 or 2006. If I notice it, I just throw it out.

Do we have a shredder?

Of course not.

Anyone who wants to climb through the Dumpster and sift through the garbage -- poopy diapers included -- can have whatever they find.

There might even be checks in there. I don't know. The real mail gets tangled up in the junk mail, so who knows?

The mail method has become this: Ram it up to the razor's edge and pay it or do it when I absolutely have to, as long as it doesn't impact the credit report.

Since reading all the fine print saves you in legal bills and I can no longer see 6-point type in the moonlight, I had to get coke-bottle glasses.

My ophthalmologist, Dr. Krasnow in Huntington, advises a paperwork strike: play hardball and demand that my husband hire a secretary.

But I am not ABOUT to let some woman take care of my husband's personal and business concerns unless she is ugly and stupid, and preferably grossly obese. I watch the ID Channel. I know what can happen.

So how do you run that classified ad without getting sued? How many responses do you think I will get?

Does anyone have any ideas?

I'm just going to stack it up and ignore it, and do something I WANT to do until I get INTERRUPTED. That's the plan for now.

Contact Tracy Herz at tracyherz@gmail.com.


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