Shredding: How Hard Can It Be?

I am a really poor shredder.  And it is a task I take no pleasure from when, in the abstract, it looks like it should be good fun.  The fact that I do not possess a mechanical shredder may be part of the problem, but I am put off by a friend’s experience, who always found them prone to jamming.  And, after all, even Banksy, with all his cash and influence, couldn’t find a shredder to do a half-decent job.  No, whenever I want to destroy some of my personal paperwork, I am obliged to fall back on shredding by hand.

It is slow, arduous work.  I have never been someone blessed with the kind of rippling biceps that can tear telephone directories in half.  In fact, my usual shred limit is a modest four sheets of A4 paper at one time.  Four sheets may not sound like a challenge of Herculean proportions but, by the time the four sheets have been ripped in half and combined they become eight sheets; repeat the process and you have 16 sheets; repeat again and you have 32 sheets, which constitutes a wad of paper sufficiently thick to defeat my most destructive efforts.

It is not long before my delicate, office-worker’s hands are aching; my willpower to complete the job sapping.

There is a secondary problem, too.  It has to do with the positioning of sensitive, personal information on a page.  Let me explain.  I will tear my paperwork, one, two, three, perhaps four times, reducing it to a neat confetti, and yet when I look at the pieces I am left with, invariably I have not obliterated my personal data as I intended; in fact, I have highlighted it.  Instead of ripping my name and address details into a myriad separate pieces to be scattered to the far corners of the world, what I have succeeded in doing is closely cropping the salient information, such that it provides a handy, pocket-sized crib-sheet for any would-be identity thief.  The same situation occurs for my credit card number; my bank account details; my national insurance number.  In the course of my shredding, I have an unfailing ability to obliterate the information that is not confidential and preserve the information that most needs to be destroyed.  It is a phenomenon so prevalent, it could be turned into a stage act, like Terri Carol of yesteryear variety fame.

During the latest assault on my paperwork, I had a brainwave.  I would collect up all my shredded pieces and soak them in a bowl of water; reduce them to an unintelligible pulp, which would defeat the best efforts of any bin-dipping, low-life scammer.  The result?  A realisation that most commercially printed documentation is substantially waterproof.  Instead of erasing my data, I only succeeded in creating a papier-mâché artwork, which manages to preserve every confidential fact about me for all eternity.

What is the answer to my shredding woes?

© Simon Turner-Tree


Simon Turner-Tree lives outside of London’s smoke control zone.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s