Tag Archives: Collecting

An Idea You Wish You’d Had, or, The Story of My Business Card Collection


When I was a kid, I was really into collecting things. Here is an abridged list of items that I collected:

Beanie Babies and Beanie Babies collectors handbooks (Obv)
Miniature glass animals
Business cards

I realize that, as we go down this list, it gets less and less conventional, until we come to the ultimate fucking weird thing to collect. But these are the facts. The story goes that one Saturday in December, while attending my elementary school’s annual Holiday Fair (which I LOVED and looked forward to ALL YEAR and could never sleep in anticipation of), I was struck by a genius idea. See, the fair was the kind of deal where they’d clear out all the classrooms and craft vendors from what seemed like all over the world would flock to set up stands and sell magical, useful things, like novelty soaps and handmade potholders and christmas ornaments. To give you a little picture of the fair, know that there was also a raffle, and every year the BIG raffle prize was a homemade quilt, which I wanted DESPERATELY for no reason that I can understand at all (I never won, but I did spend all of my money on raffle tickets). And, the sixth grade class always performed the “Mummer’s play” twice during the course of the day, which I looked forward to for five long years before finally reaching puberty and being deemed hot enough to play the Prince himself (the first in a series of male roles that I happily took on). Anyway. I’m getting away from my point.

My point is, on the day of this particular holiday fair, as I walked by each vendor on my sixth or seventh loop, still alone and blissful from the excitement of it all, I noticed that at the edge of each table was a colorful pile of business cards. Absentmindedly, I began to pick them up as I went. At the end of the day, I was DELIGHTED with my pile. And that’s when I developed my unique business model: BUSINESS CARD COLLECTING. A new niche! As the only kid in the world collecting business cards, I hypothesized that if I got enough of them, one day I could set up an office where people would call me and ask me if there was anywhere in Lexington to buy handcrafted scarves, and I’d just scroll through my rolodex of cards and point them straight towards a scarf vendor, or whatever in the world they were looking for. THE INTERNET. Is what I didn’t know would be invented and fuck up my entire plan.

Blissfully unaware of the developing ‘net, I got down to BUSINESS. I collected business cards right up through high school YES YOU HEARD ME. High school. During this long career, I collected over one thousand business cards. I kept a running tally, adding the number I was contributing to a long list to come up with a new total each time. Unfortunately, I’ve lost that list; however, since I didn’t know how to add and didn’t think to use a calculator, I’m also SURE that it was incorrect, so don’t feel we’ve lost too much. I did keep the cards themselves, however, in the special boxes that I purchased for this purpose alone. Please peruse:
Here are six full boxes of business cards. I don’t think one could argue that this wasn’t time well spent. 
Although I generally spoke too quickly and quietly to be heard or understood, somehow word did get out to my family members that this was a passion of mine. Soon I began receiving business card-related gifts, like this lovely business card holder:

As you can see from my homemade, taped on label, I saw this gift as an opportunity to start displaying a “card of the week” to the many visitors to my bedroom. Photo Cards by Erika didn’t even know how lucky she was to be chosen.

So there you have it: my greatest achievement to date. In the holiday spirit, I leave you with this picture of me, taken at the dawn of the new millenium and the height of my collecting success. I think you can see the innovative entrepreneurial spirit in my beady eyes (if you can get past the glare of my white, white face).

Catherine: I feel obligated to comment on the ‘miniature glass figurines’ that you used to collect. It is 100% not unlike the classic Tennessee Williams masterpiece, “The Glass Menagerie.” And, when I think about it, you and that protagonist have quite a bit in common. Pale, frail, beady eyes, terrifying smile… creepy Santa hat? Regardless of if that play is/is not based on your life, I am glad you spent your childhood collecting things whose value can only have grown. Wait, that’s not right. I take it back. You wasted your youth, Jana. And you were too pale.
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