Junk drawers charging into the future

Competition for space in kitchen drawers is fierce these days. That beloved staple, the junk drawer, may soon be crowded out by something called a charging drawer, an empty drawer wired with ports at the back to charge cell phones, iPads, ear buds and assorted electronics.

You can charge a phone in any room in the house, but the only place you can find a 6-year-old lemon-flavored throat lozenge so old it is stuck to the wrapper is in the catchall drawer.

Ditto for hair ties. Sure, you might find some in a bathroom drawer, but the ones with hair still knotted in them will be in the junk drawer. That’s also where you’ll find felt tip markers without lids, ballpoint pens out of ink, dull scissors and pencils with broken leads.

Junk drawers are not just depositories for random things you throw in on the fly, they are family history. Journalists without scruples have sometimes rifled through trash to find out details about people. If you really want to know someone, go through their junk drawer.

The first thing you notice in our drawer is birthday candles. Some are still in the box, others are mixed with pens and paper clips. There are all colors and sizes, in all stages of deterioration. Some are melted to nubs because they’ve been used before. Now you know—we like to party and are so cheap we recycle birthday candles.

We also like to eat, which is why you’ll find chopsticks, a fossilized fortune cookie, dinner mints from restaurants and a takeout menu stuck to the bottom of the drawer.

You’ll also find plastic drinking straws. We’re hanging on to a few before they become obsolete. The two decrepit steak knives with plastic handles aren’t for eating, but for ripping open delivery boxes.

A good junk drawer takes years to build. Amazon does not sell a plastic ruler with pictures of past presidents on it that is cracked in two places. A ruler like that takes years of getting snagged in the back of the drawer. It’s not that useful for drawing a straight line any longer, but it’s been around so long it’s like family. You don’t dump family.

Need felt pad tips for chair legs, so they don’t scratch your hardwoods? An emery board for filing your nails? A neon green miniature flashlight, book matches, AAA batteries? A gauge to check air pressure in your tires? We’ve got it all in the junk drawer. Somewhere. Dig deeper.

Consider this—charging your phone at various outlets around the house, especially ones near the floor, is good for your knees. Those deep bends may be all that’s keeping you flexible.

Go ahead, empty your junk drawer and turn it into a neat and clean, streamlined charger drawer. But remember this — Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither was a good junk drawer.

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