My Personal Episode of Hoarders
No, no readers. I was not on Hoarders, nor am I the actual hoarder but I know a hoarder and my experience should have been recorded. The following is an account of said event:
ring, ring! *The Telephone Rings*
“Hello, world’s most amazing person”, I answer in my normal greeting.
“Hey Kenneth, this is your cousin. I was wondering if you would come and help me clean our apartment?”, my cousin Brandon says.
Some background. My Aunt and Cousin rarely step foot out of their apartment. They literally have a fan posted out the front door to blow the stank out and don’t let anyone come past their balcony. I was, needless to say, quite shocked at the invite.
Turns out that my cousin and aunt had let the place fall into such a horrible state that the apartments were threatening to evict them if they didn’t clean the place up. I accept the invite and offer my help. They are family after all…
When I get over to the place and walk in I seriously think I’m going to vomit, pass-out, and contract seven diseases all at once. I consider getting a gas mask but settle for some gloves. At this point I’m making this really weird “It smells like shit in here” face, but trying not to make it obvious.
Let me paint a picture for you. My uncle died in 19…98 I think. Since then my aunt had a nervous breakdown and became a recluse. She lost her job and draws disability so she never has to leave and in fact doesn’t go outside for weeks at a time. Since 1998 she has kept every single piece of mail, grocery bags, etc. I walk in and the only open spaces are pathways to the bedrooms and bathroom. Junk is piled up about five foot high in the air.
Honestly, I didn’t realize it was this bad or I would have hired a team of men to come in and haul everything off. Luckily, I had a few other family members that showed up later.
My aunt is actually sitting on the porch because she’s hysterical that all this stuff is going. At one point she screams and cries and fights my cousin because he is throwing away some old bills from 10 years ago.
Actually, this literary task is too daunting without dividing this up by room. Let me make this easier for the both of us:
There living room was like any other normal living room. They had a couch, a t.v. and a futon. The only difference was that you couldn’t see anything but the futon (which had been brought in as a bed when the places to sleep got covered). The couch had been used as a shelf for years, as had the t.v. which I found out didn’t even work. It started off as boxes of papers and things and then just turned into piles of junk. The best part was that my cousin had kittens running around through everything so it was junk covered in cat shit and piss. He actually told me at one point, “Hey, be careful when you move stuff around. There are probably kittens hiding all throughout here.” He was right. About halfway through cleaning, I found several kittens behind the t.v. napping and one kitten that had been dead for four years. It was almost fossilized underneath a vacuum cleaner. The vacuum cleaner did work, fyi, it was just buried under so much stuff that they didn’t realize they had one.
The Dining Room:
Well, there was definitely no dining going on here. This was actually the cleanest spot (if you can call it that) in the whole place. Turns out my cousin had been cleaning here because that’s where all his dad’s stuff and the games were stored. Sitting at the back of the room was an old metal workshop desk which weighed about 400 pounds and I was lucky enough to get to take all the way to the dumpster. This apartment is on the second floor…
The desk actually went out after all the other rooms were emptied, but I had a bunch of things in the space to clear. Mostly it was all mail. That’s when I noticed something shocking. Because of all the floor space that had been lost, my cousin had ran an extension cord to a power strip. After some time the power strip was covered up and he had to run another extension cord to another power strip because you could no longer access any of the outlets on the walls. To my surprise, there was a mass web of power strips and extension cords, 9 in all if I remember correctly. They were all buried under paper and other crap. I lectured him on how much of a fire hazard it was.
Like the dining room, the kitchen had lost its original purpose, with the exception of the microwave which was the sole source of cooking. The oven was filled with newspapers. The stove had junk on it. The fridge was functioning but was filled with nothing but soda. After asking, I found out that because the sink was also filled with junk, they no longer had the ability to run water, so they only used the water for microwave soups and they drank a 2 liter of soda each every day. The other funny thing about the fridge was that the cabinets above had broken free from the ceiling and walls and now the fridge was the only support.
I’m not even going to talk about the bedroom on the left because it was just filled with junk. There was a bed somewhere, but it had long since seen the light of day. It looked like this bedroom was only storage. Now, the bedroom on the right…
This bedroom had about forty trash bags filled with clothes. There was a male cat in the room that they didn’t even know was in the house. He had urinated all over and the smell was horrible. The sacks covered a water-bed, and I was scared the first time I caused a ripple and all the trash bags started moving. I thought there might be some giant worm-like creature nesting underneath the bags. In the corner I found some computers. One was open and filled with a liter of kittens that didn’t make it.
In the end, we got everything cleaned out and they apartments offered them a new apartment since the condition of the carpet, walls, and just everything in general was in such deplorable condition. I also told them that I wouldn’t help them a second time. I don’t think I could handle doing something like that more than once. I even refurnished their new place since all their furniture was ruined. T.V., couch, tables and chairs, beds, dressers, etc. I found all of it for them. Most of it was donated and some were my personal things.
Believe it or not I intended for there to be a lot more humor in this post but the memory still haunts me. Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night thinking I’m surrounded by trash that is going to cave in on me. The one thing it did is make me a lot neater of a person that I probably would have been otherwise. Once you witness what can happen by hoarding and not cleaning up…you never want to live in it.