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Extreme Hoarders: True Minivan Nightmares. My Story.

I remembered today that vehicles use extra fuel if they are weighed down excessively. I realized this while sitting in my minivan and gazed upon the collection of bric-a-brac* (*nice term for junk and garbage) that has piled up at my feet and across the back half of the vehicle over the past few weeks.

It is amazing how clean a vehicle can stay if there is one driver and no passengers. But if you have a carload of school aged kids, plus a spouse that isn’t too keen on keeping the trash he accumulates contained in a container, then you will – sooner or later – end up with a vehicle like mine. A vehicle that could have its own show on The Learning Channel. A show that could be called, “Extreme Hoarders: True Minivan Nightmares.”

As I sat in my minivan I recognized lost snow mittens, a sock with no mate, various rubbish from fast food lunches of yore. I realized all this excessive weight was costing me more at the pump. Plus, I didn’t want to drive around in an embarrassment any more. So, I grabbed a bag and started doing my monthly emptying of the minivan. Fully prepared for anything I might discover. Secretly hoping I’d turn up long-lost library books. Never wanting to find an old sandwich.

The work went quicker then I thought it would. Probably because I was just grabbing stuff and shoving it into the garbage bag, instead of the wiser approach of reading what was on the various papers I was throwing away. One note: a mother who reads papers created by their children…be it a scribble, smudge, word or artwork…instantly becomes sentimental and goes through seven stages of guilt before any further throwing out can continue. Plus, the paper itself will start a new pile that often derails most of my cleaning efforts: a “save” pile.

Some of the more curious items I discovered today include a four-foot long tree branch with random carvings in it, and a chunk of asphalt about 5 inches across. I have no idea when these came into the van, who brought them there, what they are for, if they are important. I kept the stick and threw out the asphalt chunk.

About twenty minutes later the cleaning was nearly done. I could tell by the fact I could now see carpet that I was going to save about $5.00 a day in gas. This is just a rough estimate with absolutely no mathematical backing to it whatsoever. What I’m saying is that it felt good to get that van clean again.

Lesson: From now on I am going to have small garbage receptacles near every seat in the van. Before children enter the van I will inspect pockets and backpacks for asphalt chunks. And absolutely no tree branches are allowed to enter the van if they are over three feet in length (leaves included).


About Fortyteen Candles

oh, let's see...distinguished Gen-X'er, frustrated writer, suffocating in the confines of a small town that thinks it's a big deal. A few years ago we were home to the second largest Walmart in our state, don-cha-know. Oh, and I was voted "Most New Wave" in my senior high school year book. Actually, that last sentence alone is really everything you need to know about me.

6 responses »

  1. love your comment about the seven stages of guilt derailing your cleaning of the van – I know all about this – hilarious – what would possess someone to save asphalt?

  2. grapesgripesandgratitude

    I’ve tried sooo hard to keep junk ouT of my car. With four kids..and a similar husband to’s a joke. Our ‘new’ rule is no one gets out of the car when we get home till its empty. The prob is its then all over my garage. Sigh….

  3. Teresa Cleveland Wendel

    “Secretly hoping I’d turn up long-lost library books. Never wanting to find an old sandwich.”
    This essay was one of your funniest.

    • Thank you so much for your kind words! The problem with writing an anonymous blog is that I can’t ask anyone I know personally for their feedback. I’m glad you liked this essay. I found it as cathartic as cleaning out the minivan itself! 🙂


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