2018-12-05 / Opinions & Letters

A box full

Midwest Memo
by Alan Shultz

At the big box office supply store in Lafayette, I frequently purchase cardboard storage boxes with fitted cardboard tops.

The boxes usually come in flats of five - shrink wrapped in an awkward size too big to place under one’s arm, but too little to carry in front of oneself.

I refer to these boxes as “Bankers Boxes” which is a registered trademark and the brand I most often purchase. But for variety, there are several other brands of this particular office product. I’m not sure how the “Bankers Box” came to feel like the spot on description of this particular type storage box. I’ve never worked at a bank, or to my knowledge even seen one of these boxes in a bank. That said, I indeed associate the box with banking

These storage boxes are a foot wide and 16 inches longthat is if you are storing regular office files in them. If you have legal sized files - I’d say you would describe them as 16 inches wide and a foot long.

Either way, the boxes are equally perfect to store both regular and legal sized files.

The boxes come with simple instructions of bend/fold/perforate and pop to completely form each box and corresponding cover. Most come with a nice designated area to label what’s inside. They also are designed with nice pop out sections on either side for convenient carrying. I’ve carried more than my share over the years.

For a box constructed of mere cardboard, these storage boxes are extremely sturdy. I have piled many a full box on top of another similar box stacking them up to six boxes high - a virtual tower of boxes.

When I was practicing law, my bigger cases or projects would often warrant their very own storage box. A lawsuit, a real estate development or a probate estate would rate an exclusive box and get a label the likes of “Ace V. Wilson” or “Maple Street Condos” or “Estate of Mabel Brown.” If a case was particularly long, the boxes would earn additional labeling as in “1 of 3.”

I found the boxes better than file drawers because I could lug the whole file to court or to a meeting or along on a getaway weekend that required some work squeezed into the “away” part.

Some of the contents of my probate file boxes represented the entire physical history of a life lived. Certificates of birth, marriage or death, copies of wills and directives, passports and financial records all came to a final stop in these boxes. Recipe cards, summer home plans and watercolor portraits came to rest in these boxes when the sentiment of the object would not allow me to discard same.

Right now I am dealing with the contents of one particular box that came unexpectedly to rest under our dining room table. The box was long ago labeled with my initials and the phrase “articles to save.” The dust on the top of this box is so thick it resembles a swath of dryer lint.

A couple evenings ago I put the “articles to save” box on the kitchen floor. I popped open a can of soda, put my glasses on and leaned back against the doors of the kitchen sink.

And then, I dove in.

Articles about social issues from prison reform to public pension financing mingle with stories about acts of charity and rescue dogs saving lives. Right now I have before me an article entitled “The Phone of the Wind” about an old disconnected dial phone housed in a phone booth near the Pacific Ocean somewhere in Japan. Over a period of years folks have come to talk on this phone to their departed loved ones, 10,000 of them have come. It defies logic, it inspires hope.

Sometimes I will read something, discover something, resolve something - and the inspiration or truth in the idea of that something is so piercing that I fear losing it without some token, some talisman some evidence of the idea.

And so it is that my accumulation of cardboard storage boxes represents a mere attempt to hold tight to all kinds of ideas that linger long enough in my life that I want them to find a home in order that they might stay close at hand.

Return to top