Portrait of a Day: The Filing Cabinet

Portrait of a Day: The Filing Cabinet

(Wherein I tell a long story about acquiring a new filing cabinet that also has a warm, fuzzy moral at the end).


I like to be organized, and I’m fairly diligent about extending this sense of organization to my paperwork. Nothing made me feel better after a long, frustrating day at work than sorting through my stack of files and putting everything in its proper place.

In Cincinnati, I used a filing cabinet salvaged from the side of the road. It had a scuffed press wood facade of medium tone oak, with a long scar on the top. The bottom drawer was misaligned, so I had to lift it up to close the drawer. Two hangrails were missing, one from each drawer, which meant even though I had hooked filing folders, there was nothing onto which those files could hook.

When it came time for my move to Maryland, I decided a new filing cabinet would be a perfect way to celebrate. I arrived in my new home and unpacked every box within the first two weeks. The town home was more or less in order after one week. But it took me months to find a replacement filing cabinet, and as a result, my box of files stayed unpacked under my desk. The last box.

Sitting there. Taunting me.

Every time I needed to file something, I had to wrestle the file out of the box, and the box put up a fight every time. But filing cabinets are expensive! And I was determined to get a filing cabinet that was not a piece of fast furniture. I wanted this filing cabinet to begin the long-term furniture collection. This filing cabinet was going to be a statement.

This was a lot of expectation for a filing cabinet. Filing cabinets made entirely of wood — not press wood with a lacquered facade — cost hundreds of dollars. Not even a few hundred. Several hundred. As in, no less than four hundred dollars, though more often than not, upwards of five hundred.

So my partner and I went to Office Depot. We found two possible filing cabinets: one was a wood lacquered press-wood that actually looked okay. But the illusion was spoiled upon touch, and it was ever so slightly too big. It was also almost $300. For lacquer. And crushed wood dust.

There was also a sleek, charcoal-grey filing cabinet, small enough to fit under the desk. I did like that one, in spite of it being metal with cheap, plastic handles. It was just under $100 and the complete bottom tier of what I was hoping for when I started this search.


My partner loved the little grey one. We both love grey things. Our town home has gray walls. He painted his Titannicus models (pictured above) grey and orange. His laptop is grey and mine is dark grey. Many of our clothing items are grey. Our sheets are grey. His car is grey.

We got the grey one. It’s inconspicuous and serviceable. Most importantly, I have a place for my files. The drawers are aligned and slide easily, the files hang in an orderly, symmetrical fashion. Once more, I now have the joy of filing with ease. Here’s to compromises and small steps that end up being exactly what I needed, even when it wasn’t what I was looking for.



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