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We recently relocated our home office area from the upstairs to the finished area of the basement.  As it was, I had to clear everything out of one particularly heavy file cabinet to be able to transport it without killing my back.

As I was putting stuff away, it was interesting looking at all the paperwork that was stored in there.  Much of it was older stuff, and I ended up keeping it all, even though most of it was outdated, not useful, or will never be helpful again.

But they brought back some great memories.  Here's just a smattering of some of the stuff I came across:

  • Old instruction manuals – I keep instruction manuals for just about everything.  The ironic part about this is that, like most guys, I barely use them at all when first using the product, yet for some reason it's critical to keep the manual.  I found old manuals for things like a Casio electronic keyboard I had in junior high, the first video game system I bought on my own, a clock radio (seriously?) and a bunch of other items that are long gone except for the manuals.  One side note here is that manuals from items purchased fifteen or twenty years ago were a lot bigger than they are today.  Always cost savings!
  • Plane tickets and status reports – Within a few months of being hired at my first ‘real job' out of college in 1996, I got to go to a few different sites to observe how they did business, since our site was brand new.  I kept my plane tickets (actual tickets, yes) and the status reports we wrote up.
  • Old credit card statements – It's fun to go look at some of the stuff I bought, how much it cost, and even the cards I used to use.  That was back in the day when I used my GM Card for everything, because they offered something like 5% back towards the purchase of a new car.  That card is long gone, both because other cards came out with better rewards, plus we don't really buy new cars anymore.
  • Pet documentation – I have two cats that are pretty old, they'll be 15 and 11 this year.  I still have their original paperwork from their first vet visits.  Just like kids, it's fun to see how little they were when they were kittens, and brings back fun memories of them being playful and cute (they're still cute, but for the most part, their playful days are long in the past).
  • Band memories – After college, a few of my buddies started a band.  I was the manager, as I was not musically inclined.  They had a brief period of local success, getting a couple of gigs a month at local bars before personality clashes and ‘real life' stuff (like job re-locations and the what ) put an end to it.  I kept a lot of the stuff that I had put together.
  • Pay stubs – This is the one that always makes me shake my head.  My gross pay was less than a third of what it is today.  It's amazing to think that, back then, we were able to have a good life on what we now think of as so little.  Yet, we did it by living cheap, living together (had an apartment with a college buddy), being naive about saving for retirement, not having to deal with health care costs like we have today, and all the rest.  Still, it always gives perspective.

So, while part of my plan of moving stuff downstairs was to put as much outdated stuff as possible into a Shredder pile, I didn't even make one.  Everything went back in.  Because in another five years, another ten years, whatever, it will still be fun to look through it.  Chances are, I'll even keep adding a few things here and there from today so that today's troubles and activities will be tomorrow's reminiscing.