When you just can’t give something away

Note: This column appears in the 8/5 issue of The Glendale Star & the 8/6 issue of the Peoria Times

Because my wife prefers to throw away nothing, we opt to donate things when we can.

This is not to say that the act of donating things has been, in any way, easier for me than convincing my wife to throw something out. Donating old clothes is especially difficult. There is no item of clothing I can attempt to give away without her getting upset. She will literally gasp at seeing something I have placed in the bag and say to me, pleadingly, “But you wore that on Christmas Eve that year!” as if I am denouncing the fun time I had that day through my desire to donate the pants I was wearing. And God forbid I try to get rid of something she actually bought for me. It has gotten to the point where I have to donate clothes in secret. Last time I slipped up though, and she noticed one of my shirts peaking through the plastic donations bag. The next day she walked past me in the kitchen and said, “So…I see you don’t like yellow shirts anymore. I’ll remember that the next time I see a nice one at the store.”

(In her defense I am somewhat flighty when it comes to my wardrobe. If I buy two new shirts at Kohl’s, the first thing I attempt to do when I get home is get rid of everything I haven’t worn in the past three weeks. “I am starting over, “ I will think to myself. “And the foundation will be my two new shirts!” I am weird like that.)

So, as you can see, it’s difficult enough for us to donate stuff as it is. Making matters more complicated is the fact that, apparently, no one else wants our stuff either.

Every month or so, we receive a card in the mail specifying when a certain charitable organization will be in the neighborhood to pick up any unwanted items. The process, ideally, is that you place your items at the front of your house with the card attached and they pick it up. The process, for us, is that we place our items at the front of our house and nobody picks them up.

Now. I leave early for work in the morning, so I always want to put the stuff outside before bed. My wife refuses to allow me to do this, stating that “people could steal it,” a point which I do not understand as it equates to us saying, “Here, take it. No, not you!” My wife however, is convinced that these potential thieves will sell our stuff to buy drugs. And nobody wants that. Except the thieves.

So, I have to lug everything outside in the morning before leaving for work. Then -– as has been the case the last three times we have attempted to donate to three different organizations –- as I drive towards the house after work, I slowly notice that all the stuff is still there.

I am honestly unsure if our items have been deemed not good enough for even the less fortunate, or if these organizations are that incompetent. Whatever the case, now the sun has been beating on our stuff all day, and I am forced to go out in the afternoon heat and bring it all back inside the house, at which point we need to remove everything from the bags and check for scorpions. “Hey, there are my old Christmas Eve pants!” I will say. “I wonder what kind of drugs I can get for these.”


Bill said…
My favorite "unsuccessful donation" story happened about 5 years ago when the engine of my 1992 Ford Taurus fell apart - the common ending for anyone who owned a '92 Taurus - and no central NJ charitable organization I called would even take it off my hands. (A tax write-off would have been nice.) I ended up selling it to a junkyard for $25...and I was happy to get it.

When it comes to clothing I'm like your wife. I won't get rid of anything, even if I haven't worn it in years and it's like #35 on the t-shirt depth chart.