Help! I Married A Pack Rat

by Jennifer Scharf
Originally Published: 
pack rat husband hoarder
trekandshoot / iStock

When I first met my husband, he lived in a one-bedroom apartment that was super tidy. It was so clean that I thought he might be a minimalist. But he duped me. I didn’t see his storage unit and had no idea what I was getting into!

There were little clues pack rat tendencies along the way, like a prom mug from 20 years ago filled with his collection of cheap trade show pens on his desk. I looked past it because I have been known to hold on to a thing or two. I’m guilty of leaving tags on my too-good-to-wear purchases and letting them hang in the closet for decades. I have scented candles in the basement, where they have been aging since God knows when. I understand keeping the clear protective plastic on the cell phone for a few months so it stays shiny and new.

While I would classify myself as borderline OCD—someone who likes to preserve high-quality items—he has an entirely different disorder. It’s called “Save Everything From Your Entire Life Because One Day You Might Need It Disease.”

We aren’t at hoarding level (yet), not like TV-show-hoarding level. But when he has an affinity toward a gadget, he buys multiple. We have a shop vacuum, a car vacuum, a handheld vacuum, a robot vacuum and various other nifty models that have died along the way but are saved for parts if we need them. My current vacuum was purchased off an infomercial he saw while traveling on an airplane because he thought I would really love all the attachments.

We have air compressors for all different compression situations: one for bicycles, one for car tires, and one for blowing up the air mattress that we are going to take camping one day, as soon as we buy a tent.

There are stacks and stacks of V-neck sweaters that he doesn’t wear in his closet. But they’re gifts from his mother, so they stay.

Don’t even get me started on his wires. I should have known better when I caught a glimpse of his high school yearbook and saw his senior quote was “I dream of someday building a supercomputer.” Wires are everywhere! In boxes overflowing in the home office, jammed into the glove compartments of our cars, stuffed into junk drawers, and piled a mile high in plastic bins in the garage. They have followed us on seven moves, have gone in and out of storage units, and even made it with us for a relocation across the country.

USB, USN Type-A, USB Type-B, USB Mini B, Micro-A USB, USB Micro B, eSATA, FireWire, RJ45 Ethernet, RJ11, Component Video, HDMI, DisplayPort, Mini DisplayPort, DVI, S-Video, coaxial digital audio, Toslink optical digital, composite/stereo (RCA stereo), RCA mono, fiber-optic cable, coaxial cable, ethernet crossover cables, indoor extension cords, outdoor extension cords, jumper cables, outdated cell phone chargers, outdated computer adapters, 500 strands of broken Christmas lights, and converters for things that don’t convert anymore. You name it—we have it!

I’ve unsuccessfully attempted to get rid of them on multiple occasions. I leave little piles of wires strategically placed on his nightstand and by the sink where he shaves in the morning. Just like I ask our child as we try to unload her never-ending sea of stuffed animals, I ask my husband, “Do you use these? Do you need these?” My household motto is, “If it doesn’t have a name, it’s fair game—going, going, gone!” But, alas, I’m met with, “Yes, that’s a D2345699 coaxial blah, blah, blah. It’s good to have around.”

Good to have around? I mean, I guess he does tinker with them. I do see him climbing in the attic with rolls of wires, drilling holes in walls and fishing wires through with a metal hanger, opening car panels, rewiring GPS units, rigging this and rigging that. The thermostat is connected to a laptop that’s connected to a router that’s connected to a cloud in the sky—by a wire, presumably.

And just when I thought it couldn’t get any worse, in came the miniature drone collection. I already lived through the model plane obsession, but now this? Transmitters and chargers are occupying every outlet in the house. If one more quadrocopter nightmare hovers over my head in the living room, I am going to break its blades off and throw it out the window! But that won’t deter MacGyver. He’ll just go get one of his thousand minuscule wrenches that are littering the garage floor and take an old part from a fan or something and fix the damn thing.

Speaking of fans, if you ever need to borrow one, we are your people. Stand-up oscillating omni-directional fans, fans for small windows, fans for large windows, windowless AC units, box fans, tower fans, floor fans and table fans. The pack rat is a fan of fans.

I guess the upside is that if ever there were an apocalypse, we would have everything we need to survive, until the power goes out. But don’t even mention that, or he’ll stock up on generators and battery-operated appliances.

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