It is with some embarrassment that I have realized that, even though I have been blogging for nigh on to five months, there are still a few things I haven’t complained about. This realization came to me on Saturday, with a donation of books bound in string.
Younger readers may be unaware that there was a time before cardboard boxes, when things were packed in crates or in trunks or simply stacked and tied up with twine or string. Once upon a time, the purchases you made in grocery stores or butcher shops would be wrapped in paper and tied with string. String used to be our all-purpose containing medium before tape took over.
The one real benefit of tying up books with string is that you automatically have a handle for picking them up: you merely stick your hand in under the string on the top. For a Book Fair manager, this nifty device is offset by a number of disadvantages: that people have forgotten you need to string together books of similar size or the bundle falls apart when you move it, that bundles tied up in string are not truly flat on the bottom and will not stack in a stable fashion, that bundles of books do not enhance my reputation for excruciating neatness in my work area, that the string can be too tight and cut into the sides of the books and lower their value, or that these bundles are necessarily small meaning you need to take three times as many trips to move the same number of boxes if they were bagged or boxed. But there is one disadvantage that is worse than all the rest combined.
What the heck do I do with the string once I’ve sorted the books?
You have to understand that not only was I brought up to the tune of “Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without” but I do have a job which, by its very nature, insists that I can make money with other people’s discards. So it is in my job description as well as in my nature to think “What can I use this string for?” I think this even if it has eight knots in it and had to be cut in two places to get the books out. But I am also of a generation that doesn’t think of string. I use tape or glue or bags or boxes and I have not made a telephone of tin cans in decades. I have absolutely no use for string and yet I can’t throw it away.
And if I did throw it away, is it trash or recyclable? If it’s recyclable, is it paper or plastic or metal? No, that way lies madness. Better to put it in a little box somewhere and think of a use for it later. (ie: forget it until I come across it again and find it is now so dusty I can throw it away with a clear conscience.)
Somebody asked me whether I would rather have boxes donated tied up in string or stacked in banana boxes. I’ll consider that in some other blog. Right now I feel a headache coming on.