About once a month I shred documents. I’m not sure if “documents” is the right word. What I mainly shred is junk mail that has my name and address. Years ago I saw a report on the news about criminals gathering information from garbage cans; they’d stop in front of someone’s house, pull out all the bags, and later sort through everything to find usable information. And it was many years ago, because I had helped my father-in-law, Wes, burn stacks of papers and unopened envelopes in a large drum in his spacious backyard in 1993, and shortly after that I saw the news item and bought myself a shredder instead of a drum—since I couldn’t legally burn stuff where I lived.
My first one shredded in long strips and would often get clogged and stop working. I had to use angled tweezers, called Cotton Pliers, to pull out the jammed paper. My new shredder, now seven years old, slices and dices at the same time, and I’ve never had to clean it. I have wondered if I could run thin sheets of pasta dough through it to make my own version of Ricciutelle, or even better, shred leaves of Napa cabbage when I’m in the mood for a home-made relish version of Kimchi. I have done neither and am not likely to. But I think about it.
But feeding the shredder isn’t as straightforward as it sounds. I don’t want to overburden the machine, so I examine each piece of unwanted correspondence, cutting open one end of the envelopes with scissors, pulling the contents out, and locating the sensitive information. Then, after carefully avoiding areas of gum-like stickiness, I cut out the area with name and address, and put them in my Farr Mesh mail file holder—also good for magazines. When that is full (so stuffed that it’s hard to add another piece of paper) I plug my Casemate in, move it next to my desk, and start shredding.
One time not long ago I clocked the task, and it was forty-eight minutes from first shredding to last. I was distracted by a T20 game of Cricket, so I’m sure the actual time was much less. But I always enjoy shredding, however long it takes. I like the mechanics of it, the sound of it, and I’m always fascinated by the mound of little bits of paper in the catcher, which is like a little trash can, and love dumping it in a garbage bag when I’m emptying all the cans in the house.
Personally, though, I still want what I saw in a science fiction movie, I don’t recall which one. There was a hole in the middle of a table that instantly disintegrated anything dropped there. Don’t know if the material was incinerated or somehow turned into usable carbon, but there wasn’t smoke. I would love such a convenience.
Or maybe I shouldn’t be allowed to have that. Sure enough, I’d drop my glasses in there, and probably my keys, and might even lose a hand, in a panic, reaching in to retrieve my stuff.