The Drawer Content from the guide to life, the universe and everything

The Drawer

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We all need one, and every house has at least one – so that's a stroke of luck. It even appears in literature like Simenon's Maigret, but what's so special about...the drawer?

Where Is It?

It's usually located in the kitchen, but can be found in the hallway, bedroom or study. The kitchen is the most popular location because nearly every kitchen has a little three- or four-drawer base unit - just made for the purpose. The top drawer generally contains cutlery, the second drawer contains larger utensils sometimes with tea-towels and dish-cloths, but the next drawer is the drawer.

What's In It?

The drawer contains what is loosely termed as man stuff1 but you don't need to have a man around the house to keep a man drawer, because it's also called a rummage drawer. It is usually filled to the brim with the sort of things that you can't throw away but will seldom, if ever, need to use again, or the things that should have a special place of their own but don't, or, finally, the things that you need to put in a safe place to avoid accidental disposal2.

The drawer will contain loads of instruction booklets for electrical goods, some of which you may still own. Receipts for major purchases (like your first computer), guarantees for some products and other odd bits and pieces of literature3 fill out the space. There will be an assortment of odd batteries which may or may not have any life left in them and they usually roll to the back. Some power cables from long forgotten products, a handy fix-all screwdriver, a torch without batteries, some candles, blu-tac, a small tube of wood glue and a worn tape-measure fill other niches. Spare curtain fittings, the scissors, a few pens (not working), a pencil (no lead), a few pesetas or other obsolete foreign currency, and a piece of string whose purpose has been lost in the sands of time slide around the edges. Douglas Adams' and John Lloyd's book The Meaning of Liff also tells us that it will contain a pimlico -

'a small odd-shaped piece of plastic or curious metal component found in the bottom of a kitchen rummage drawer when spring-cleaning or looking for Sellotape.'

At the top of the drawer you may find utility bills and other correspondence that require a quicker turnaround, but not everyone is happy with that concept, so not all households will subscribe to the feature.

How To Manage It

The drawer is at its least useful when you have to lean on the contents to get it to close. At this point you have only three options:

  • You can ignore the problem and eventually some of the paperwork from the top will scrape off and slide down the back of the unit into the drawer below, or onto the floor (this can also lead to jamming of other drawers because of overspill).

  • Start another drawer on purpose where you can begin to collect afresh.

  • The least pleasant option, as it involves removing the drawer, up-ending it and actually sorting out and disposing of the unnecessary content4. If the drawer is steadfastly stuck, jiggling it from side to side and rocking it may help release it but a pry bar may be needed. Pry bars should never be stored in the drawer for this very reason.

Should you ever be in the unfortunate position that your drawer can't be moved there is a lesser known fourth option, although its reliability is questionable. You could send off a prayer to Anoia - who is the Goddess of Things That Get Stuck In Drawers in Terry Pratchett's Discworld series5.

It should be noted that anything of value discovered in the drawer, like a passport or birth certificate, should immediately be removed for storage in the more dependable and secure shoebox.

Before returning the drawer to its cabinet it's a good idea to make use of some of the content. You could line it with some of the instruction leaflets, thread the loose keys onto a piece of the string and rub one of the candles along the runners - it'll help the drawer keep up that super smooth glide for ease of use.


Kitchen manufacturers, through costly market research, are fully aware of how many drawers we need to hold all our small items of 'kitchen-alia' but will nevertheless produce kitchens with the extra drawer(s) to fulfil our deeper need. Extensive research has shown that, in the majority of homes, there is more than one such drawer, therefore caution is advised. Apparently, they even find their way into the work place where they are known as the BOSS (Bits Of Spare Stuff) drawer. If you do find drawer space at a premium at home, other popular providers of drawers for drawers' sake are Welsh dressers, sideboards, bedside cabinets and telephone tables, but be careful not to get carried away - the more you have, the more you need.

1That's only by women though - men consider it the most important drawer in the house.2Apparently, only a woman would consider throwing things away that have a place in this drawer and it is inevitable that anything discarded from it will be needed the following week.3Take-away menus, money-off coupons (long past their expiry date) and a hand-written recipe - you get the picture.4As already established, everything in the drawer is necessary so you may want to consider a sort of half-way house between the drawer and the bin. Some folks consider a box or plastic bag in the shed to be a suitable resting point for the intended dumpees. This does of course lead to a whole other set of problems.5No responsibility for the effectiveness, or not, of this method of drawer management can be attributed to this Researcher.

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