NewsPub Notes

Yes, I Found Classified Materials in My Garage, but Let Me Explain

Credit: Pete McCommons

OK. I have classified materials in my garage. But I can explain. And I can guarantee you there’s no Corvette in there. In fact, there’s no automobile at all. There’s not room, even for the smaller cars for which the garage was built a century ago. 

That’s right: It’s an old garage—a shed, actually, out in back of the house, not built-on. It has rats, too, but the neighborhood cats keep an eye on them. So it’s actually not a garage as such, but a storage shed. I clean it out every now and then. But right now it’s full of old lumber that I had to drag out from under the house, because, you know, termites. And there’s a lot of old plastic and styrofoam, too, because we never can remember when CHaRM is open, so we just put it in the garage until we can remember when to go to CHaRM. And some old furniture, too, because nobody wants it. Kids nowadays! And when I downsized my office at Flagpole during the pandemic because I was working from home, a lot of stuff from my old, larger office ended up in the garage, too, because I couldn’t just throw it away. Could I?

So that’s how the classified stuff ended up in the garage, see? It’s not like I stole it or had some ulterior use for it, like selling the information or trading it for travel vouchers to the Middle East. I mean, there’s a big difference in having stuff in your garage because you moved it in a well-meaning cleanup, as opposed to making off with it because you saw a way to profit off it. Right?

So, you know, when you move the contents of a messy office, you end up with a messy garage. The stuff that was in your office is now in your garage, where you’ve been meaning to dispose of it. But you haven’t, and to tell the truth you have ignored it for so long that, actually, you have forgotten about it. That is, until everybody is talking about classified materials in garages, and you suddenly remember that you have some, too, and that you’d better come clean, since you’re a prominent local pundit. 

So that’s what I’m doing. I’ll have my lawyer get those documents out tomorrow. Why would my lawyer do that? Because he is a “full service attorney.” He’ll draw you a will today and haul off a load of old wood tomorrow. He’s just helpful that way. Always has been, in between winning landmark Georgia Supreme Court newspaper cases. I certainly hope he doesn’t have to defend me over the classified documents.

The explanation for them is really innocent, more or less, and simple, for sure. Here’s what happened. Since I used to have a big office at Flagpole, I stored some of our classified ad applications from back when we had lots more classifieds, before the internet gobbled them up. Those forms had names, addresses and phone numbers, so you couldn’t just put them in the trash, and we might need to refer to one if a customer wanted to re-run an ad or pull information from it. So, we held on to the forms, and they gravitated to my office, and then when I cleaned out my office, they gravitated to my garage. It is as simple as that. You could try to build a case against me for stealing classified information, but really it was stuff that could have been shredded if we had a shredder. Actually, CHaRM has a shredder, and I would have taken them down there eventually. It’s not a great crime; it’s just procrastination, and it didn’t hurt anybody, and it protected those who gave us their ads in the first place.

Well, I’m relieved that my classified information is finally out in the open, with no subpoenas or Justice Department court orders.The only trouble is that since somebody else stole classified material and lied about it and refused to give it back, the rest of us who just ended up with classified info in our garages are lumped into the same category as that guy. When you hear that I have classified materials in my garage, I bet you’re thinking Russian spy, when all you really have is a hometown procrastinator. There’s a lot of difference, plus I don’t think the Russians are interested in Flagpole classifieds, though if they find out how effective they are, they might be using them for sure to find high-profile guys who might want to play along with them and share info. But not in my garage.