Friday, March 10, 2017

10/31: Shredding My Receipts #sol17

Thanks to the Two Writing Teachers blog for hosting the #sol17 writing challenge!
I climbed into my car this morning and looked around. They were everywhere.

Receipts. Stuffed in the door, crammed in the cupholders, strewn across the floor mats. The cold, hard evidence of my morning tea runs, my impulse Target purchases, my mad dashes to the gas pump when the low fuel light is blinking threateningly. They flutter around when my window is open like damaged paper cranes, and they crinkle under my feet when I climb into my car again after a long day at work. This paper-thin tune is always softly playing in the background of my commutes, barely discernible but still there.  

I sit in the driver's seat and rest my head on the steering wheel for a moment, lost in thought. As always, I take something small and spin it into something more, a trait that I both love and hate about myself. I wonder...if an anthropologist collected all of my receipts and put them on display, what picture would it paint of me? A girl who needs caffeine? One who likes to tempt fate? What does this very literal take on the phrase "leaving a paper trail" say about me? 

I lift my head, pick up the receipts and stack them on top of each other, forming the layers of an abridged history of me. Later, I will give them to my husband to shred, effectively destroying this snapshot of me.

Despite this solution, I still find myself wondering. What of the not-so-literal receipts that can't be ground up into confetti with the press of a button? The ones we leave behind with every interaction, every conversation, every choice? If, at the end of every day, an invoice popped out of some cosmic printer, what would it say? Would I be proud of it, or would I crumple it up in a cupholder and hope that no one sees? If the receipts of my days are laid end-to-end, will they form a paper chain of wonderful memories, or will they forge iron links that drag me down? 

I start the car. My thoughts flutter around me, errant slips of paper, and I swat at them, asking them to leave.

 Too heavy for a Friday, Katie.

For once, my thoughts listen. They linger for a moment, and then, they are gone. 


  1. Our receipts as artifacts of our life -- such a great idea!

  2. By far my favorite of your posts during this challenge! Your philosophical twist was such an unexpected surprise at the end. I love how you take seemingly insignificant items and make them memorable. Beautifully written!

  3. I loved the "abridged history of me." And then I was totally surprised by the philosophical twist at the end. Another terrific piece of writing. I hope you are showing these to your students!

  4. Love this: "For once, my thoughts listen." I wish I could say I know what that's like.

  5. Katie this is a really great piece! Such a powerful metaphor to think about what the evidence of our transactions in life would amount to. Love it!