I was up until two in the morning last night, cleaning the landlord’s basement. (The time at which I performed this chore is more or less irrelevant – I’m unemployed. I’m always up at two in the morning.) This man has a serious hording issue. Serious enough to be gross, but NOT serious enough for the daytime television team that might have been his salvation. He owns twelve hammers and he hires people to do his construction, is the kind of thing we’re dealing with.

He did not ask me to clean his basement, he asked my husband to insulate the basement ceiling. Which is fine. We have an agreement, us and the landlord. An agreement where we pay a rent that is slightly too high, and do odd jobs around the house, in return for not paying a rent that is definitely too high. (This is not the exact wording in the lease.) The landlord asked my husband, who works two jobs, to insulate the basement, because if he had asked me my ovaries would have ascended to my head and crushed my brain I guess.

So as a point of honor I am insulating the basement. (Also because the landlord is showing up today.) But I am also cleaning the basement, because if my landlord suffers from Acute Inability To Discard Obviously Broken Items, I suffer equally from DIY Optimism, or “DIYO.”

DIYO, noun – A feeling of intense motivation and optimism, aroused by impossibly stupid home improvement projects. Example: “The moment I saw this rotting recliner I was overcome with DIYO. Don’t worry, I bookmarked that Apartment Therapy page on reupholstering!”

I figured if I cleaned out the basement I would finally have a place to A) store my tools, and B) paint the furniture I brought home from the Salvation Army in a fit of DIYO.

So the night went well. Things were cleaned. Insulation was installed. But now I have this:

Scale of the Problem

Twenty eight rusty, half-empty cans of paint, three gallons of sealant, a bin of small cans and dangerous looking chemicals in jugs, and several bottles of various fluids that might as well have been in black and white, they were so old. This out of the fifty gallons of paint the man had squirreled away. I may do another post just for pictures of all the ancient paint brands.

But I couldn’t just throw them all out. If you’ve cleaned as many basements as I have you’ll know that there’s one cardinal rule for dealing with hoarders: never let them see what you’re throwing away. If they see it, they will want it. A basement suddenly bereft of paint can Towers of Pisa would be a dead giveaway. So I set my cunning plan in motion: I only threw HALF the paint cans away, and left the other half as decoys!


Ha HA! What missing paint?

Feeling like quite the brigand, I smuggled the old cans outside and stashed them in the back of the truck. They are now safely in town with the husband, which is a pity, because it turns out the waste disposal center isn’t doing hazardous waste removal until April.

So I’m going to wait until dark and hide them in the woods.

This isn’t over…