Friday, October 26, 2007

File Cabinets

I spent about half my work-day continuing the process of cleaning house - or, rather, office. Once again filled the recycling bin behind building 26, this time with files left behind by dozens of former coworkers.

One had even left all of her personal financial records (paystubs, donation reports, health insurance forms) as well as personnel files for those she supervised. Out they went. Along with folder after folder from strategic conferences she attended, filled with notes that probably no one else would understand. There were probably some gems in there, but they were hard to recognize... I salvaged and preserved what I could. Some of this stuff could be really helpful. It's hard to tell.

I really don't like having to be the one to make these decisions, but when your whole department leaves and you are the only one left, and it's time to downsize... what do you do? I shouldn't delegate such things to S., who has only been here a year, or to a hapless volunteer. But it was painful to do it myself.

Some of the files dated back to Caleb Project's glory days (sigh!) Others recorded darker times (shudder!) So I felt both the nostalgia of a mother packing up baby things and the pain of a widow getting rid of her husband's shirts. Though at times it was more like the frustration of a mom cleaning up after her teenager who had left way too much crap behind.


I Was Just Thinking.... said...

It kind of makes you wonder about what we put our hands to, the work we sweat over...where does it end up - in a dumpster. I'm not a pack-rat and several years ago quit note-taking at conferences and even journaling specifically because I didn't want to box it up and carry it with me wherever I went.

Paul Merrill said...

I agree Barb, though I am a pack-rat.

I still like journaling, though it's all electronic these days - no more notebooks to pack when (if) we move. Just a few megabytes of a DVD. (I think I could fit about 100,000 lifetimes' worth of thoughts on one DVD.)

Two years and nine months' worth is 3.8 mb.

Orrange said...

sorry you had to do that. it doesn't sound like a chore anyone would like to have.

Marti Smith said...

The best thing about journaling, etc. electronically is that it's so much easier to find things when you want them. Though the 10,000 emails I insisted on moving from my old computer to my new one might be excessive...

I guess I =am= a packrat. With some of my work stuff. Most of the training, shepherding, debriefing files I can winnow down without feeling a sense of loss; we have all the stuff electronically, and as long as I have the latest edition, plus the 1992 training system., iterations from the 15 years in-between have little value. Pretty much same with advocacy training materials.

It's stuff like recruiting files, the old applications that I'm not sure of. I probably need to pack it away or pitch it.

And my massive collection of site-specific info? If I stay in this business I could very well WANT background info on the Sindhi people (for example!) They are still as unreached, misunderstood, and overlooked, as ever. But what is there of value, really, in the files about them that I collected 10 years ago? Thanks to the Praying Through the Window campaign I have stuff from all across North Africa, Middle East, Central and East Asia. Man, five file-cabinet drawers of it. How did that happen?