Thursday, July 23, 2009

The Cost of Inertia

My moron tax usually arises from my impatience and lack of impulse control. I tear holes in my new clothes because I rip off the tag rather than take a moment to locate the scissors. I spill half a package of potato chips on the kitchen floor because I use my teeth to open it rather than take a moment to locate the scissors...

There are times, though, when moron tax accrues from my laziness, indecision, and general failure to do something. In these cases, the moron tax accrues grain by grain, day over day, without fanfare, and I don't notice any of the harm I'm doing to myself. It could be days, months, or even years before the staggering accumulation of my moron tax is revealed to me.

A couple of days ago, my boyfriend pulled out a stack of sealed boxes that had been sitting in front of a bedroom closet. He asked me what could be so valuable inside those boxes that I kept them in such an inconvenient location and yet be so inessential to my life that I never used them. Faced with the direct question, it occurred to me that I had no idea what was in those boxes. Those boxes were not even mine. They were packages addressed to the prior resident of my home. I stacked them, unopened, in my house, assuming that the rightful owner would eventually come to the house to claim them or contact me with a forwarding address. The owner certainly knew where I lived, I reasoned. And so the boxes simply sat in my bedroom and waited. Eventually, I grew accustomed to their useless, space consuming place in my life, forgot their purpose, and accepted the inconvenience. Everyday, I would look at them, move them around, or place things on top of them without thought. Each time I needed something from the closet, I'd shuffle them out of the way and then dutifully return them to their place.

"For how long?" my boyfriend asked. Nearly two years.*

* There is added moron tax in that I don't know what to do with the boxes now. If you have an idea of what I should do, vote in the poll (located in the upper right hand column of the blog). If you have additional suggestions, email me at

* Update Post here.


  1. You won't rest until you return them. Do you rent? You could ask the person you rent from if there is a forwarding address. If you get this mystery Peter's address, just send it with no explanation.

    It would be great to open them, though. Find out that there's a fruit basket, a bunch of McCain-iacs '08 t-shirts, and a deflated "congrats on your move" balloon-gram.

  2. Oh gosh, Kevin, you know me so well! I want to return them to the owner, but I am incredibly embarrassed by how long I've held on to them. I was planning on sending the boxes to the guy's workplace without my name or explanation, but was worried that I'd inadvertently touch off a bomb scare.

  3. Do it! Repaper the packages this weekend, put your/his address on it, then affix lots of stickers with unicorns, "God Loves You," teddy bears, puppies, etc. Send it second class.

    He won't try to contact you.

  4. I have a package like this in my apartment. And a lot of mail. Including things that have things like "Last Notice" on the outside. I don't even open my own mail, and only get it out of the mailbox every couple months, so I don't know how I'm supposed to deal with other people's mail, as well :/

  5. I'm glad to hear it's not just me. I've actually already sent back a ton of this guy's mail and other boxes that he's sent through USPS. Maybe if I send him these boxes, I should send him a package of "I've moved!" cards for him to send to his friends.

  6. Have you tried zabasearch to find his current address?

  7. Thanks for the suggestion, Stephanie! I will try it now and see what comes up.