The Stairs That Lead Nowhere

caution-stairsLogic and reason rarely work around here.

This is because we inhabit a netherworld between chaos and confusion, a place where we must follow irrational protocols to get anything done.

For instance, every night I use the same method for locking up. I always begin with the entryway door. If I were to deviate from this order, even in the slightest, I would wake up to find the patio door open all night. I don’t know why this is but I know enough not to question it.

In short, you don’t tempt fate.

The same protocols must be observed for locating things – and there is no better example than in the writing of this essay.

Yesterday when I sat down at my iPad to write, nothing happened. The Bluetooth keyboard I use was dead. Sure enough, both of its AA batteries were depleted.  (Probably because I left it on all night after tossing a novel on top of it)

The protocol for finding anything in our house begins with yelling.

“Hey hon, where are the batteries?”

“Check the junk drawer.”

There is only one way to check a junk drawer. You dump its contents onto the kitchen floor.  Once everything is scattered nicely about, you methodically sift through the mess.  I did this but failed to find a single battery; not a D cell, not an AA, not an AAA. Nothing. This was very odd.

So I scooped everything back into the drawer and returned it to its slot in the cupboard and only then did I advance to the next step: yelling across the house.

“Did you put them someplace else?”

“Check the Stairs That Lead Nowhere.

The Stairs That Lead Nowhere are a flight of steps hidden behind a door in our hallway that climb straight up into the ceiling. It is as if the house was designed for two stories but the builder got bored after the first.

It is where we toss the things we don’t want to throw out.

When I say “toss” I am not speaking figuratively. We literally toss things up the stairs then quickly slam the door before they tumble back into the hall.

Whenever we open the door, an avalanche of stuff spills out.

So the process for finding something in the Stairs That Lead Nowhere is to stand off to one side and open the door. Once everything tumbles into the hallway, you methodically toss it all back in until you find what you are looking for.

But when I opened the door – nothing came out. Everything in the Stairs That Lead Nowhere was neatly packed into bins and tubs.

This was deeply troubling

“Hey hon, you cleaned the Stairs That Lead Nowhere!” I yelled in a panic.

“I had too,” she called back, “you blogged about it and told everyone in the world what a mess we had – so I cleaned it.”

“Yeah, but where are the batteries?”

“They are there somewhere.”

So I began by searching the bins at the bottom of the stairs. I found the floor wax bin and the window cleaner bin. I located the shoe polish bin and the light bulb bin. I came across the tub for rags and the tub for plastic grocery bags – but I could not find batteries.

“Are you sure they are in here?” I yelled.

“Keep checking.”

So I checked everything within reach and not finding the batteries, I slowly scaled the stairs, carefully gripping the edges of the steps and wedging my feet into the tiny toeholds left between the tubs. I almost made it to the top before I slipped.


The entire edifice that my wife had so carefully built collapsed and I, with everything else, cascaded into the hall.

So I did what protocol demanded I do. I scooped up what was on the floor and chucked it up the stairs – slamming the door before it could all tumble down – and there lying all by itself on the hall floor was a pack of AA batteries.

Like I said, you don’t tempt fate. If there is a way fate wants you to do something — that is the way you do it.

Author: Almost Iowa

35 thoughts on “The Stairs That Lead Nowhere”

  1. There may be one thing worse that what you describe here. It’s going through exactly the same process, but with only one person and one cat in the household. When you’ve done the organizing yourself, and still can’t find things…. well…

    1. They say you should organize according to a system. I do that but then I forget the system. It is like encrypting all of your possessions then forgetting the encoding key.

  2. After reading only a few posts, I love your wife.
    And I got hopeful there for a minute when you found the light bulb bin. That’s where my batteries are. But, alas, one person’s organization is another’s chaos.

    1. I love my wife too, she gives me so much to write about. My worst fear is that she will start her own blog and start writing about me. [shudder]

  3. Oh so good to read your stuff! You’ve made my day again, Greg. I don’t feel so bad about my clutter any more. I remember that photo on Facebook!

  4. I live in Florida. We do not have basements here. If we did, then it would be a sinkhole we built our house over. So where do we store things. In our garages. Consequently people have to build car ports to shield their cars from the weather. We build them in front of our garage, which is now our store rooms. We use our store rooms for all the junk we received at Christmas and birthdays. Stuff like ties we hate or calendars no self respecting person would hang on their wall. Stuff like that.

      1. You don’t want to go into business with me. Believe me, you don’t. It never turns out well. Now if you want to go on tour as a comedy team, that is another story. Just one question. Who gets to be Abbott and who gets to be Costello?

    1. Technically everything in our drawers is junk, so I guess we would have a number of them. However, most of the other drawers have a theme; you know, like silverware, freezer bags, etc. The junk drawer has only one theme…if it fits, chuck it in.

      1. I guess my definition of junk is any drawer that lacks a theme. Otherwise I can say “it’s in the freezer bag drawer,” to which my husband will either reply “why?” or “which drawer is that? “

        1. to which my husband will either reply “why?”

          I’d just leave it at why. Going into an election year, one should not try to make sense of the world.

  5. “This was deeply troubling.”


    That’s the very reason I don’t clean junk drawers. I don’t want to trouble Hub!
    Although he’d be troubled by my switch from piles to Purge & Organize because that’s so unlike me. He’s the neatnik in our family.

    Stairs that go nowhere can be quite alluring, and should give you ‘meat’ for a few episodic tales that walk that fine ‘is that real?’ tightrope.

    Good stuff, Greg!

  6. Once again, I am laughing aloud. So here’s my “looking for something” story. Several weeks ago, or maybe it was even months (I’ve lost track), I removed a clamp from the dryer hose. I was painting the laundry room. I have not needed the dryer since given the perfect outdoor drying weather and use of a drying rack. But today it is raining. I needed to use the dryer. The hose clamp could not be found anywhere when I asked my husband to hook up the dryer before leaving for work. I searched the basement, which is a mess due to a project and could not find the hose. I was not wearing my glasses. Later I donned my glasses and started searching. And there it was, hanging on a nail on a laundry room 2 x 4, exactly where I’d placed it.

    1. I carry a little notebook everywhere I go. I use it to write down my ideas about how to make life better. I plan to present it to God when I meet him. It includes all kinds of great ideas like an on/off switch for pain and an off switch for testosterone in teenage boys.

      As I am ticking through these things, and God is nodding his approval and taking his own notes, I will come to this point: “And things should never be located exactly where you put them, they should always be found where you look for them.”

  7. Thanks for starting me off with a smile. By the way, we have opposite houses. You have stairs that lead to nowhere. I have a second floor with no stairs to it. I’ll get around to building them at some point.

    1. Don, that is hilarious. Years ago, I built a cabin in the woods where I could go to write. In the cabin, I built a loft but never got around to building the stairs to access it. This was on purpose because when my wife first laid eyes on it, I could see the word ‘storage’ form in her mind.

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