Friday, March 09, 2007

Little Boxes Made of Ticky Tacky

Damn that brown box. Damn it to Hades.

I am going on a service trip to El Salvador tomorrow for the next week. I am super super excited about this opportunity (who wouldn't be, right?); in addition to helping build a health clinic in one village and a senior center in another, the group I am going with is bringing loads of stuff to donate to the people, which is amazingly cool!

I come from a large family of pack rats (let's just say that my CMDD is nothing compared to my father's), but we recognize it about ourselves. Though all of us have bursting wardrobes, I think there is a general effort to keep it at bay through regular runs to Goodwill or Salvation Army. This means that at any given time, there are several boxes and bags full of second-hand clothing in the upstairs hallway.

Yesterday, I had the idea to go through the assorted boxes and bags and try to find summer clothing to bring with me to El Salvador. All was going well until I got to the last box. It was a simple, run-of-the-mill brown box, medium size. All I wanted to do was open, extricate the appropriate clothing, and go on my merry way.

And the box would not stay open.

Every time I lofted one of those blasted flaps, it would stubbornly return to the closed position, often with a cheeky scratch on my arm.

Every. damn. time.

I tried to maintain my typically demure demeanor, but this was a particularly ornery box. It wasn't long until I was kicking and punching it and screaming obscenities at it, the tendons in my neck almost to the breaking point with the strain.

I hated that box.

Finally, I viciously wrestled the clothing from its interior and stormed into my room and slammed the door. Yes. I slammed the door at a brown cardboard box.

Today, the box was still in the hall. It is located right outside my door, and every time I passed it, I glared at it. I leered. I grumbled angrily in its direction. I held a grudge against a box.

Just a few moments ago, my mom asked me to empty the box into a green garbage bag so that the box could be used to pack old dishes (another attempt to combat our communal pack rat tendencies). Nothing gave me more pleasure than to roughly grab the box and shake it upside-down, robbing it of its only dignity, the ability to contain things.

And I laughed cruelly.

It was at this moment that I realized two things.

First of all, it is just a box.

Second of all, no box deserves this kind of emotional exertion.

I was reminded of one of the many books I like to pretend I have read, C.S. Lewis' Screwtape Letters. As I recall from hearing other people talk who had actually read the book, Screwtape, the nephew of Satan, is a devil in training. He is advised not to target people to become evil, but to target the people around them to become annoying, and the person will become evil on their own.

What if Screwtape was targeting the box in order to turn me evil? Am I that easy a target? Gosh, he doesn't even have to use animate objects to get to me! I just about lost it over a box!

That's a humbling experience.

I hope they don't have corrugated cardboard in Central America.

4 comments:

gem said...

Nice post. Jo, demure? In what universe. I love your self-effacement. Sorry, I missed your recent posts. If it makes you feel any better, I have been missing my life, too. Hope you have a wonderful trip.

Oh, The Joys said...

Have a great trip! What a wonderful thing to do!

Lotta said...

What an awesome trip! Be safe!

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