In the junk drawer


I was digging through my desk the other day and found a receipt for gasoline from 1984.

This was back in the days when the attendant came out to your car and asked, “Fill ‘er up?” which I apparently did. It was 11.3 gallons. Which, I should tell you, did not go very far back then, seeing as I was driving a Pontiac TransAm with the Extra Testosterone Package and the Ridiculous Performance Group.

Anyway, the receipt tells me I paid the princely sum of $16 for those 11.3 gallons of gas. Sixteen United States of America dollars for gasoline priced at $1.40.9 per gallon, plus tax.

Wow. How times have changed.

I gave up TransAmnification years ago for the more sedate travel experience of the pickup truck. Not long ago, I drove to Northern Indiana to give a speech. On the way back, I had to fill up my truck. It took half my speaking fee. I am not kidding.

I need to raise my rates.

Anyway, that’s the world we live in today. Which makes me kind of glad I kept that gas receipt. Actually, I’ve kept a lot of stuff, now that I dig around a bit. You know how some people have junk drawers? I have a junk desk.

Here’s a short inventory from the top drawer:

One French-English dictionary from the seventh grade.

A Russian-English dictionary, same era.

A letter opener that belonged to my grandfather.

Two buttons I snagged covering the 1980 Republican National Convention: “Dick Lugar for Vice President” and “Reagan/Lugar.”

A McGovern button from 1972. (I don’t seem to be on much of a winning streak, political-button-wise.)

A whole bunch of cassette tapes. I have no idea what’s on them.

Pencils that may go back to the Jurassic Period, also known as elementary school. I’m going to have them carbon-dated.

A set of keys for that TransAm.

Wow. This isn’t a desk. It’s a time capsule. I don’t know whether to donate it to the Smithsonian or bury it in the backyard. Or maybe I’ll keep it for the time when reality TV, with the shows about people bidding on storage spaces and lost luggage, finally gets around to producing “American Junk Drawer.”

Who knows? By then, the stuff in my desk might be valuable enough for me to buy a tank of gas.