Shredding for Dollars

I’m into shredding now. I just bought my first shredding machine and it’s clear it’s going to be the first of many.

I’ve already been through the four stages of paper shredding: 

  1. 1) Near orgasmic joy over watching junk mail go through a really, really sharp thing and get turned into confetti.

  1. 2) Boredom and monotony and the realization that shredding paper isn’t nearly as much fun as you thought it was going to be.

  1. 3) Panic over the amount of old financial papers you now have to shred because you spent $84 on the shredder.

  1. 4) A comfortable middle ground where you come to terms with the paper shredder as another necessary appliance in your house. Sure it’s not going to provide the thrill you’ve been looking for since the first rock concert you went to, but it’s not going to bore you to death, either. 

And I really like it a lot. It’s black and chrome and has a see-through drawer that you can open and throw away the confetti. It smells like slightly hot machinery and a new baby doll and it’s awesome.

You may be asking yourself why I’m only now buying a paper shredder. Yeah, well, I’m only now joining the ranks of the modern day suspicious people. 

Remember, I grew up under the tutelage of my mother, who never locked our doors at night, left her car keys in the car parked in the driveway, and picked up hitchhikers. I was brought up with the understanding that nothing bad was going to happen to me. People were not going to steal my stuff, no matter how easy I made it for them. This kind of thing just didn’t happen to Laney girls.

And then someone I know had her identity stolen. I won’t say who, but her initials are BB and her mother’s maiden name is Smith and her social security number is 908-55-7936. She has $2,367 in her checking account and her VISA account number is 259448.

I started to think, “Say, maybe someone could steal my identity and get the money I have in my checkbook. Is this possible?”

I decided to stop throwing my important papers in the recycling bin, sorted and folded with the account numbers facing up and at my curb for all to see. I started throwing them in the garbage with coffee grounds and old chili thrown on top. And then I started to think that maybe some identity-stealer would be sleazy enough to sort through rotten food-covered papers to get valuable numbers from my papers. Maybe he’s wearing gloves. 

So I bought the shredder. When I reached Stage 3 of Paper Shredder Ownership (“Panic”) I toyed with the idea of sorting through and not shredding everything. After all, how damaging can a Walmart receipt for a soccer ball, yarn and a pound of smoked turkey be? Can’t I just throw those away?

I’ve decided to not take the risk. The last thing I need is to be the object of one of those stories passed around the Internet: Did you hear about the woman in Lexington Kentucky who had her identify stolen? Some guy found a piece of paper with just her phone number and her dog’s name written on it and from that got enough information to open a bank account in her name, then he transferred all her money into it, charged a $50,000 boat on her VISA and took out a second mortgage on her house. Her credit’s ruined now.

So everything gets shredded. The sound of the grinding can be heard at all times of the night and day around here. The kids don’t watch TV anymore or answer the phone. They wear earphones to listen to music.

Hear it? That’s the sound of financial security, baby. Welcome to the 21st century.