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Let's Take Out the Trash

I went Dumpster Diving for a Pink Monkey

Clean & Clutter Free Professional Organizing Services and a possible Dumpster Dive Pro!

Las Vegas Monkey

During organizing projects, it is tempting to want to donate or toss out other family members things — especially if they have not been used in awhile. But the following is a personal narrative of why you should never make decisions about other people’s belongings without their permission…even for children.

Years ago, before I started my organizing career, “Las Vegas Monkey” arrived into the arms of my 2-year-old daughter, Emily. My husband and I took a business trip to Las Vegas and brought back two little plush monkeys as souvenirs for both of our girls. They loved them for awhile, but eventually they were seemingly lost and forgotten among the other multitudes of toys.

One day, I was home alone and decided to tidy up the girls’ bedroom. At that time, the girls must have had about 100 stuffed animals combined. As I rifled through the pile of trinkets and other debris, I came across Las Vegas Monkey. At that time, Emily mostly ignored this monkey — or so I thought — and I noticed that it’s arm was broken. I thought, “Why keep a broken stuffed animal when you have 99 unbroken ones to play with?” I made an executive decision and tossed it into the trash. “Emily won’t even notice that it’s missing,” I told myself.

But I was wrong…DEAD WRONG.

Exactly one day later, my sweet 4-year-old came barreling out of her room with a look of terror on her face. “Mommy!” she hollered, “Where is my pink monkey? I can’t find her anywhere. You didn’t throw her away did you?”

With a guilty stare, I nodded sheepishly. Then I quickly tried to redeem myself by explaining to her that the monkey was broken and she had 99 other stuffed animals to play with. But that reasoning didn’t work with her. Not even one bit. For one thing, it doesn’t work to explain things logically to a hysterical 4-year-old. She fell to the ground, seemingly heartbroken. Then she ran to her room, bawling. At that point, I was pretty sure she was never going to talk to me again. So what did I do? Well, I did what any guilty mamma with a heartbroken child would do.

I went dumpster diving.

Fortunately for me, the trash had not yet been picked up. Unfortunately, though, I had to search through every trash bag in the dumpster before I found Las Vegas Monkey. I finally found her at the bottom of a trash bag, at the bottom of the dumpster. She was wet, dirty and stinky — and so was I. But I felt victorious just the same. She went into the washing machine, Emily’s heart was mended and I was — mostly — forgiven.

Over the years, Emily has grown very fond of her little monkey. Perhaps it’s because she came so close to losing her. I like to muse that it’s because her mommy braved rotten food to rescue her.

To this day, though, it is not the dramatic rescue or the fact that the monkey was at the bottom of everything that Emily recalls. She doesn’t even remember how dirty and stinky I got. Nope, she only reminds me of how horribly wrong it was to toss her monkey into the trash in the first place. It took her a long time to trust me again. And just to make me feel even worse, my husband, who is much handier than me at fixing things, managed to fix the monkey’s arm after all.

Today, she hangs gracefully and honorably from Emily’s bedroom door with both arms intact.

Many of my clients have heard me tell this amusing story, and they know that I never ever recommend making decisions about what to keep and what to let go of for others. You can, at best, put any items in question into a box for them to inspect and approve of before they let them go.

What might not mean much to you may be a treasure to another person. You do not want to jeopardize your loved one’s trust — especially 4-year-old little girls.

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