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A Tale of Two Cabinets: A Mystery!


When I wrote about my first road trip in my new Subaru WRX last year, I left it as a bit of a mystery as to the contents of this file cabinet. But in reality, I knew what was supposed to be in there. Just to my knowledge, I couldn’t recall actually ever seeing what was inside. But before dispensing with the subterfuge, a little background is in order.

A metal file cabinet (I couldn’t remember how many drawers) stood in a closet in my parent’s condo. After my dad’s retirement, the closet served a dual purpose of not just as a storage area but also as an “office” for my dad’s professional files. My dad was a retired minister and all the paperwork from his 40-year ministry career was in that closet. After my dad died (three years after our mom died), my three siblings and I took what keepsakes we each wanted, gave some things away, and the rest was moved (at least twice) by my oldest sister to where we found it on that hot Saturday afternoon in September.

But when we came across this cabinet, we weren’t sure it was the same cabinet. We both remembered it as being green. So we searched elsewhere in the garage among the many other items stashed but did not find another file cabinet. We returned to the beige cabinet.

As we found it, it was lying on its back, partially hidden underneath a couple of mattresses wedged between some boxes and a dresser. It was encircled with a piece of rope and to prevent any drawer from being opened, a golf club was jammed between the drawers and handles (not pictured). Although packaged this way no doubt for safe transport, it seemed almost as if it was secured in this manner to prevent its contents from escaping.

The first step to gain access to the file cabinet was to pull the dresser far enough forward to be able to slide the golf club out, which I found was an extremely tight fit wedged beneath the drawer handles.

Next we had to cut the rope so that the individual drawers could be pulled open. Before we went any further, I decided to at least try to pull open one drawer to get a glimpse of the contents inside in case it was not the right cabinet. As I pulled on one drawer, it seemed almost as if it was locked; but it wasn’t. It was just extremely heavy. I managed to get one open far enough to see inside and I immediately recognized my dad’s hand writing on a few of the file folders which were beginning to slide down to the back of the cabinet. Bingo! We had the file cabinet with my dad’s sermons.

We then pulled the dresser out further so that we could turn the cabinet and stand it upright. It was after several unsuccessful attempts at barely getting our fingers under the back of the cabinet and trying to lift that we found it was just too heavy to stand up (It turned out all four drawers were stuffed front to back with file folders holding papers and probably weighed close to 300 pounds).

Faced with not being able to lift the cabinet up and not being able to remove a single drawer, our last ditch effort was for me to pull up the drawer as far as I could and my sister reach in and pull out as many files as she could, one hand full at a time, trying to prevent them from sliding behind the drawer and into the back of the cabinet.

By this time, as hot as it was, I had already stripped off my t-shirt and had repeatedly wiped the sweat off my face with a towel. But requiring both my hands to pull the drawer up, I couldn’t keep my sweat from dripping down on my sister’s arms as she pulled the file folders from the drawer. I apologized as she continued to pull hand-full after hand-full of file folders from the drawer.

Once we had emptied the first drawer, I pulled it completely from the cabinet and could see that the inside of the cabinet and drawer was in fact green. Sometime during it residence with my parents, the exterior had been spray painted beige but the inside was still the original manufactured industrial green both my sister and I remembered it being.

At this point, we had several precarious stacks of files from the drawer.


We carefully transferred them into one of these storage bins for my transport home.

We then proceeded to empty a second drawer using this same tedious process (and dripping sweat) filling a second bin.


By this time, we had removed enough weight from the cabinet that my sister and I were able to lift the cabinet and stand it upright. Of the two remaining drawers, we found one more completely filled with the same file folders.


And so my sister and I loaded these three bins, each weighing over 50 pounds, into my car for the ride home.

Once I pulled into my driveway, I took the bins upstairs for me to more easily go through what treasure I had brought home. And this is where they sat for a while.

To be continued…

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