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  • Writer's pictureAndy Ross

The Coffee Cups




How many coffee mugs do you think exist in the world? Whenever I walk around any given thrift store there is always a huge shelf full of them. If one only ever went thrifting for mugs to fill a kitchen in their new home, you’d barely put in a dent in the number out there, with the added thrill of giving your friends and family the impression you retired from Magnavox in 1994. 


See, I have a thing for coffee mugs. I love them. I love the weird and fun ones and I’ve been given a few as gifts over the years. The problem, however, is that I don’t use as many of the coffee mugs I own. I’d say that I, easily, own at least twenty coffee mugs. However, given the course of the year, I tend to cycle between only four. Sure, when company comes I need extra mugs, but most mornings I reach for my Mr. Rogers mug or the one celebrating the 1995 Cinematic opus “Congo: The Movie.” 


Some mugs I don’t want to use as much, if at all, due to sentimental reasons and how hard it would be to replace them if anything happened. Some of those mugs now live on my desk, where they hold things that are useful and I can see them and smile warmly when I’m in a panic over whatever thing I’m working on at the moment. But most of these mugs have lived in two cabinets in my kitchen, by where the phone used to be. 


With a new year starting I fell into a not uncommon “new year, new me, new organized life” trap. After spending a couple of years dealing with a highly compacted and congested mug situation, I decided it was time I took every mug in the cabinet out, determined which ones I needed to leave in there and put the rest in a storage tub in my basement. Why? Because as I said I am rather sentimental and like thrift stores need more mugs anyway. 


Remember how I said I thought there were 20? Reader, there wasn’t. What I thought would be a simple exercise in de-cluttering turned into “How is it my dining room table is full of mugs?” There were mugs I had long forgotten about buying. One of which was a set of mugs with property values from Monopoly on them. I remember getting them at Target seven years ago. “Oh! That’s fun! I need that!” I thought to myself. I’ve used them maybe once and they’ve spent most of those seven years resigned to the deep, back corners. 


What surprised me the most wasn’t the numerous pop culture-themed mugs, but all the random ones from various tourist museums. Some of which I am 98% positive I haven’t visited. How did I wind up with these? Were they gifts? Were they given to someone, then that person didn’t want them so they passed them on to me? Is it my job to then pass them on to someone else? I am uncertain. 


When I had finally finished and filled two storage tubs—that’s all I’ll say about that—I found I had so much more space in my cabinets than I thought. I now have about eight mugs up there, the four I use most of the time, and a few seasonal ones for holidays. It’s nice to open the cabinet and see breathing room about my cups, instead of a toppling mass of mugs that was surely bound to fall on me someday. 


Will I keep this spirit of organization going to other parts of the house? I doubt it, but it is a start and it has made my mornings a little better. I suppose I can count that as a win. By the way, if you need a mug that marks you come in third at a country club golf tournament in 1997, let me know. I somehow have three. See you next week. 


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