Current columnist Shredded sensibilities
The grinding kept me awake to the point where I was ready to file an official complaint with the police. But this was my longtime neighbor Rudy and I decided to discuss the problem face to face first and see where that got me.
He was, in fact, very apologetic when I told him the incessant noise from his house was distracting.
"I had no idea...you should have mentioned it sooner," he said.
I asked what exactly he was doing over there, figuring it was some sort of home improvement. He gave me this suspicious look like I was prying, and I immediately returned the apology.
"Sorry," he interrupted, "I get edgy when it comes to my shredding process. They're all around us, prying, invading, outright theft of identity. Don't you watch Dateline? One poor guy foolishly tossed out his credit card bills without shredding them and his account numbers were swiped, used to manufacture phony cards and now he owes money in 12 states, plus his credit's shot."
I sucked in my breath and nodded in understanding. "With today's technology..." I didn't have to finish.
"So what's your machine capable of?" he inquired.
"I...uh...it gets the job done." My mind raced, remembering a birthday gift from a cousin I hardly saw, a shredder I quickly buried in my closet and forgot about...
"How about I bring mine over later and we compare notes?"
"Sure. No problem. Yours sounds..."
"State-of-the-art. Wait till you see what this baby can do."
How do I get myself into these things? I spent almost an hour scrounging through my closet, past the wristroller, portable massager, magnetic knee braces and expired Palmolive Dish Detergent coupons before I found my Shredmaster 3000 personal shredder which I'd never even opened. I quickly removed it, plugged it in, turned it on and was mortified to hear a sickly metallic whine like 10 termites with neuralgia instead of the masculine roar of Rudy's machine. My disappointment was doubled after I tried sticking anything over one sheet in there and the damn thing got immediately clogged and I had to put it in reverse to have the paper extracted, but of course some still remained wedged in between the teeth so I needed a tweezer to yank those scraps out and it took me 15 minutes to shred three bills instead of the three seconds to tear 'em up. So I was on the edge when Rudy charged in carrying his RIPTIDE SERIES 6500ZZUP Three Speed SLASHERSUPREME machine with a nitelight for evening work.
He just stared at mine a moment, crinkling his nose a bit, trying vainly to disguise his disdain.
"This baby," he said, indicating his monster three times the size of mine, "can handle the big stuff."
I just nodded rather than ask what big stuff exactly or admit I didn't actually have any big stuff to shred. I had to cover my ears when he demonstrated with some thick government forms that were just eaten up and spit out by his Slasher. My machine sat there like a lousy cheap smoke detector (which I also own) and I wanted to counter with those or my lawn mower but I knew Rudy's was bigger, louder, more Sharper Image than mine. He kept shredding away, a beatific expression reinforcing his superiority, and I kept nodding, impressed.
If I had a wife, that night she would have me cursing at my shredder, digging at stuck paper with a bent tweezers wearing earplugs to mask the macho grinding coming from Rudy's, where entire Ikea catalogues were being ripped apart in one push. Which is why I'm still single.