I just e-sent my 2015 tax return, which means it’s time to destroy 2008.
I hate this annual annihilation. For one thing, dealing with old records often reminds me of stupid things we bought back then that we no longer have, or no longer use, or never used much in the first place. For instance, in 2008, somebody in my family not only felt the pressing need to purchase a “dress-up gnome,” she kept the receipt for it, apparently with the intention of declaring it as a tax deduction, or maybe even as a dependent.*
Those old files also show me in itemized detail work that we had done on a house we have since moved from, so I hope the new owners are really enjoying that furnace.
I have a “personal shredder.” Personal shredders can handle about 10 sheets of paper at a time,** and I can only do about a half dozen passes before the thing does the shredder equivalent of wheezing and shuts itself off for awhile. And it doesn’t have a very large capacity, so I have to constantly change the bag, which is difficult to do without making my home office look like the aftermath of a ticker-tape parade.
So this year, I thought I might use a shredding service. I didn’t think it would pay to have one of those shredder trucks come to my house, because my family just doesn’t generate that much paper in a year. But I thought there might be someplace I could bring my two boxes of highly confidential documents and have them torn to pieces while I watched. That way, my 2008 phone bills, with the phone numbers from my old house with the 2008 furnace, would not fall into the wrong hands.
I Googled shredding services and, sure enough, I could just take my unredacted documents to the local Fedex/Kinkos place. Perfect!
…except that I called, and it seems they don’t actually do the shredding there; you just drop it off there and then a shredding company picks it up and takes it away to its shredatorium, where it mixes my private stuff with everybody else’s private stuff and all our privates get catastrophically cross-cut as if by some maniacal mohel.***
It seemed to me there was something inherently wrong with that.
I mean, think about it. You’re worried about somebody going through your garbage and finding your Social Security number among the Chinese take-out containers, so instead, you’re going to neatly pack up your secret papers and drop them off with the person behind the counter at Fedex/Kinkos?
And it’s not like the Fedex/Kinkos guy (who I’ll call Fred) has to be a genius to know the boxes contain information you don’t want anybody to see; you are, after all, dropping them off to be shredded. And keep in mind, this is in a location whose main business is making copies!
So, to recap, instead of taking the risk that somebody would randomly decide to carefully examine your trash on the very day you dispose of 2008, you walk into Fedex/Kinkos and essentially say, “Hey, Fred, here are my 2008 tax returns and medical records and credit card bills and bank statements. Keep your eye on those until the shredder man gets here, okay?”
And let’s say Fred is honest, and doesn’t endeavor to take a peak at your stock picks for 2008. Even he doesn’t know what the shredder guy (who I’ll call Ed) does after he picks up the papers. For all Fedex Fred knows, Shredder Ed could be taking the documents home with him to leaf through at his leisure, right after he scans all the hard drives that folks can also drop off at Fedex/Kinkos for eradication.
How does that make any sense? The whole idea is to not have your sensitive data get into other people’s hands. Why would you literally put it into other people’s hands?
Meanwhile, I’m left to decide whether to spend $119 to have the shredmobile come out to the house for five minutes so I can personally witness my papers turned into the world’s most boringly-colored confetti, or revert to my old system of spending a few days with my personal shredder while my dog yells at me.
Or, I can just throw the stuff out and take my chances.
See you soon.
P.S. There is a company in Washington State currently test-marketing self-service shredding kiosks in supermarkets. So if not too many people mistake Shredstop machines for Coinstar machines and demolish their dimes, maybe next year I can just take my top secret documents to Stop & Shop.
*I say “she” because it wasn’t me, and shes were all that were left in my house in 2008.
**It can supposedly handle 12 at a time, but only the way a teenager will clean his room; he’ll get it done eventually, but only if you push him, and he’ll complain about it the whole time.
***Man with knife…Jewish baby boy…enough said.