Wednesday, September 21, 2011

We Apologize for the Convenience: Why Hoarders is no joke.

   A few weeks ago I started watching Hoarders for the first time ever. I was unaware when I started how quickly that show can suck you in. You sit down to watch one episode and before you know it you're halfway through a season and your own junk drawer is spread out on your living room floor as you desperately try to purge your life of anything resembling clutter. 
    It got so bad for me that I got a message from my cousin who shares my Netflix account which read:
                "I've been noticing how much Hoarders you have been watching lately and it's beginning to concern me. Is everything okay over there?"

   I replied with a few jokes and assurances that I am capable of handling such things like a mature adult, but she was right to be concerned. You can only watch so many kitty corpses be unearthed in someone's guest bedroom before the general horror of this affliction turns into full-on depression. Two episodes will make you feel great about your own house. Five episodes will change how you feel about that empty cereal bowl that's been sitting on your desk for three days from slight embarrassment to full blown terror.  
    Unlike my sister, who has to fight the urge to keep everything from empty lotion bottles to her baby teeth, I am almost the opposite of sentimental. I rarely have a problem tossing anything that I am not currently using and I only kept my childhood toys out of respect for my Mother. They have since been lost in the chaos of moving several times last year, and if I really think about it really hard, I get a little sad. 
   (I took a psychological profiling survey once that classified this behavior as psychopathic. I'll take psychopathic over pathological hoarder any day.)
    The nice thing about Hoarders is if you stop watching it (if you can stop watching) you can forget about it and remove yourself emotionally from the horror of it. 
    Except that I totally know a hoarder. I'm not even kidding, I wish I was. For the purposes of anonymity in the event that she finds and somehow learns to use a computer, and happens upon this post, we shall refer to her as Bilbo, for reasons that will soon become clear. (Also she kind of resembles him only bigger. Much bigger.)
    I know that Hoarding is a serious mental disorder and that we should be sensitive and understanding of those afflicted by it... but this woman drives me crazy. I know she only comes in to the store because she is sad and alone and a compulsive hoarder, but holy crap lady how many dented broilers do you need?
   When I spot Bilbo ambling across the parking lot I find every excuse to hide. These excuses have become so desperate they now include the following:
        - I think I saw someone puke in housewares, I'll go clean it up.

         - I'm really upset about my hamster dying

        - I have really bad cramps.

        - I'm just really emotional right now because I saw this Youtube video of a Lion hugging a human and I can't stop crying about it.

    I'm really good at handling crazy people. I used to work in the Aspen Valley for crying out loud and those women are bat-shit. It's just that Bilbo's personality can literally change in a split-second. She'll start out by calling you "Sweetheart" and "Honey" and then the very instant you even think about saying no to giving her an additional discount on the half-off used Bra-Baby in her hands she morphs into a crazy-ass gremlin and starts shouting expletives and accusing you of (I'm not even kidding right now) trying to get her to hyperventilate and die.
    Seriously every time she doesn't get what she wants it's like this:

  "You're exaggerating" you say. "She's just a lonely old lady who want's someone to talk to." you say. I'll prove it. Here is a play-by-play of her last transaction at our establishment.
   Me: Hello, did you find everything okay?"

  Bilbo: (Hands me a display model of a crock-pot already marked 75% off) I want you to mark that down for me.

Me: It looks like it was marked down to this price just this morning.. (looks up and sees the familiar glare beginning to form) but let me call a manager and see what I can do!

Bilbo: Oh thanks so much Sweetie that's very nice of you!
(Non-confrontational manager marks down crock-pot without saying a word in an effort to get her out of the store as quickly as possible. Bilbo then pulls a total of six Jupiter Jacks out of her cart.)
 Bilbo: I want to know why these are marked down to $2.50 a piece. How do I know they are going to work if they are so cheap?
"cheeaaper pleeaassssse"

Me: Well I haven't heard too much about them I just know they haven't sold terribly well, probably because they plug into the cigarette lighter in your car.

Bilbo: I don't have a cigarette lighter.... oh well they will make great Christmas presents. I don't suppose I could get them any cheaper?

Me: Unfortunately these items can't be discounted because they are not damaged.

Bilbo: I can't believe this! Why the hell would I spend that much money on things I can't even use! If you don't mark them down I swear to GOD I WILL MAKE A FORMAL COMPLAINT! (Full on scary Bilbo face) I WILL HAVE YOUR JOB! I'M HAVING HEART PALPITATIONS AND I'M LATE FOR A DOCTOR'S APPOINTMENT! WHERE IS THAT MANAGER WHO MARKED DOWN THE CROCK-POT??!!

Me: (Desperately)Why don't I just use this coupon you have on those and save you an additional 20%?

Bilbo: Oh...... well alright Honey if that's really the best you can do.....
  (I have seen enough Hoarders now to know that all of those Jupiter Jacks are now buried in the piles of other useless crap she has bought in the past, and will never become gifts. Plus, if we're her only friends, who's she going to give them too?)

   She proceeded to purchase:
         - Two double Boilers marked 75% off because of dents

         - A child's play tent (You know, for the neighborhood kids)

         - Three 50% off tank-tops, size S (This woman is at least a 2XL)

         - Four egg slicers

         - A used Genie Bra, size M.

         - A Frog key-chain that lights up and "ribbits" when you push a button, clearanced out for 39 cents because it doesn't actually make any sound. 
                         - She pondered this particular purchase for a good ten minutes, asking me if I thought the batteries just needed changed. You cannot change the batteries on two dollar key-chains. She eventually made the purchase after telling me her ex-brother-in-law is good with things like that and she's pretty sure he could repair it. Who want's to bet this froggy key-chain will never be seen again unless someone nominates Bilbo for the show?

    This post has no resolution because there is no resolution for Bilbo. It's like one of those really depressing episodes of Hoarders where the person cracks under the pressure and kicks the cleaning crew out of their house. The screen fades to solemn camera panning of the house and  then some close-ups of the person peering out through their window at the dump trucks pulling out. The script reads:

(fade in)
           " The clean-up is considered a failure and the crew pulls out after only three hours." 
(fade out)
(fade in):
        " Bilbo has refused aftercare and will not see a therapist."
(fade out)
(fade in):
"Her Hoarding shows no signs of stopping."
(fade in underneath):
"Neither does her verbal abuse of retail employees"



  1. OMG! You mentioned me! Now, when you win the internet, I will too by feeding off my associations with you. And for the record: I'm the concerned cousin, NOT the hoarder.
    Awesome post dude.

  2. Currently the ads on the side of your blog...

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    Haha I love this post!! I wish the people I encountered at work were as interesting as this.