Service of Things We Never Use

October 3rd, 2013

Categories: Garbage, Give Away


Balcony nobody usesWe were having lunch at a NYC rooftop restaurant on a flawless, sunny, mild Saturday afternoon when it struck me how many apartments have balconies and how many people pay premiums for them and almost nobody uses them. There wasn’t a single person on any of the hundreds of balconies I could see from my perch in this midtown neighborhood.

JacuzziI’ve been told by Jacuzzi owners that they rarely use theirs. I always wondered how you’d keep the nozzles clean and although I’ve remodeled three bathrooms I’ve not been tempted to own one.

After years of seeing shoes take up closet space I have tossed an embarrassing number that don’t fit comfortably that I’d hoped would.

There was a time that I’d fall for the amazing sale and buy a remarkable bargain that I ‘d end up never using and couldn’t gift. Helped by the economy, I’ve outgrown this tendency.

fitting roomI’ve heard countless women in dressing rooms trying to squeeze into slacks, a dress, blouse or skirt, promising themselves that by thus and such a date they’d lose enough weight to fit into the garment for a wedding, birthday or anniversary party. Bet many of these wishful purchases go unworn. (Walking around the city I can attest that many wear them regardless of fit.)

Have you thought you needed something and when you owned it, never used it? If, unlike a balcony or heavy appliance or fixture, the item is portable, how long does it generally take you to give it up?


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6 Responses to “Service of Things We Never Use”

  1. Lucrezia Said:

    Most everyone buys things they’re sure will eventually come in handy, only to find a dusty object staring forlornly into space ten years later. As to the balcony, anyone read about the woman who fell to her death after her 24th floor balcony suddenly parted with her “luxury” apartment building? It made terrifying headlines several weeks ago. That should keep people inside for a long time.

    Over and above lethal balconies, we’re human, thus bound to make frivolous purchases on and off until we leave the planet. So let’s enjoy the moment. Admit it, it’s great fun, even for a few seconds, and therefore, worth it!

  2. Jeanne Byington Said:


    There’s nothing like the rush of a great buy and then when you look at the thing at home that sinking feeling of “what WAS I thinking?”

    As for balconies, the woman who fell was using as a balcony something that was an architectural element, more ornament than balcony, at least that’s what it looked like to me. We have friends who plant a garden with herbs and sit out in the sun early every morning sipping their coffee and they love their balcony…..but they live on the west side. I on the east side–even before the horrible accident–never saw folks on theirs as I stroll the city.

  3. DManzaluni Said:

    A bit like having books you never read: Subconsciously you think that simply by having the book to read, somehow the knowledge inside it is being imparted.

    Most of the items you describe just have some inherent flaw, like an expensive Nikon film scanner I once bought when digital photography first came in: It transforms negatives into exceptionally high quality digital files with all sorts of bells and whistles to help you do it really well

    Trouble is that the process is so high quality that it is intended for professionals manipulating one photo to make a $10,000 advertising shot. It is in reality so excruciatingly slow that it cant be used to throw out a drawer full of old photos!

  4. Jeanne Byington Said:

    OMG D Manazluni,

    You reminded me of my PDA–personal digital assistant. I pleaded and implored my husband to buy me one and there it sat in a box and I never used it I was so frightened of it. Blush x 10.

    That you could figure out how to use this film scanner is remarkable. My PDA would have been putty in your hands.

    I have a pile of images that my Dad took and I had to toss a sad number of others for space considerations. A gadget such as the one you describe would have been super, though I wouldn’t have trusted myself to learn to use it.

    Because of the book syndrome you mention first, I rely increasingly on the public library. I feel a tug when I return a hardly opened book, but at least it isn’t there to remind me that I’ve not finished it and I can always order it again. The price is right and there’s the promise that I might fill my brain with useful information in future.

  5. Hester Craddock Said:

    Someone, very wise once told be that the rule of thumb for disposing of unused possessions is that if you haven’t looked at something for five years, it’s time for it to go.

    I’ve thought a lot about this maxim, and it is a good one. However, we are all squirrels by nature, and it is hard as heck to follow. Frankly, I don’t, but I did manage to throw away a lovely, moth eaten fifty year old cashmere jacket of which I was extremely fond. It hurt.

    Of course, the recycling process would help enormously if there was an efficient system in place to help one get rid of things. Auction houses are expensive to use for items of modest value, ebay is cumbersome and also expensive to use when one considers what shipping costs mount up to, and just throwing perfectly good stuff out seems so wasteful. What happened to the old junkmen who used to come by once in a while?

  6. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Hi Hester,

    That five year rule of thumb went out the window with a wavering economy. One of my friends used to say she was shopping in the back of her closet which, I find, I do increasingly. There I find many far better made garments than what I see for sale today at an affordable price.

    I tried ebay, on which some make lots of money selling almost garbage. If you are busy doing other things I think it’s hard to plug into that system. To work you need a setup. Say you are moving. There are so many things involved with that process that unless you have a family member with nothing else but that to do, it becomes too complicated.

    Second hand dealers will be glad to take everything off your hands for two cents, I’ve heard, in the suburbs. I don’t know about the city.

    As for the junkmen, I would imagine the suspicious state of things put an end to them. If someone knocked on my door upstate I doubt I’d open it to a stranger looking for my junk.

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