Sunday, August 17, 2014

Shred it

Free community “shred day,” read the ad from a Napa bank this past week.
That got my attention.
Free shredding? Count me in.
Who wants to sit for hours feeding old 401(k) statements three pages at a time into some wimpy home office shredder?
I’m into shredding. If you don’t shred, Identity Stealers can get a hold of your Important Info and then next thing you know you’re trying to convince it wasn’t the real you that bought that plasma TV, fancy sneakers and those $200 headphones.
I imagined the star of free shred day to be some super-sized shredding machine with giant gnashing and cutting jaws, ready to make mincemeat out of my old bank statements and health care EOBs. That’s my kind of shredding. Fast. Effective. Identity Stealer proof.
To get ready for shred day, first I cleaned out two file cabinets in our home office. Then I hit the mother lode in our attic.
Napa Garbage bill from June 1999? Got it.
Sears statement from December 2002? Yup.
I’m sure no one else cares about my Target receipts from November 2003 but I had kept them all just in case the IRS came knocking on my front door. Because no one wants to come up empty-handed when the IRS comes calling.
Hello IRS guys? You need receipts? Come on in! I got your receipts right here. Boxes full, and neatly labeled by year and month.
I hear I can get rid of receipts that are seven years or older, although as I write this, a tiny part of me worries I may be jinxing myself by doing so.
Dear any IRS receipt inspector people reading this: Our receipts are all very boring and uninteresting. Especially the Target ones — unless you need to know how much a mom spends on toilet paper in a month. With three toilets and five people in one home, a lot, I tell you.
On shred day I took a trunkful of my old receipts to the bank where a friendly woman helped me unload my car.
I took the lid off one box to show off my color-coded, organized folders.
Very nice, she nodded, before unceremoniously dumping my carefully filed and archived receipts and bank statements into a large gray garbage toter.
I felt a worrying twinge as I looked down into the bin at the jumble of papers. All those years of archiving, down the toilet.
I had to see the shredder in action. The garbage toter was dispatched across the parking lot to a man with a large white truck. My papers would end up as confetti-sized pieces, the shred man assured me.
Metal arms clamped around the container, hoisting it up into the truck and jettisoning the contents.
A video monitor of the inside of the machine showed the piles of paper being fed into the industrial-sized grinder. The shredding was even better than I imagined.
It was loud.
It was destructive.
It was completely Identity Stealer proof.

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