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Do You Suffer From HOTGS Syndrome? Do You Suffer From HOTGS Syndrome?
This week, our friend Tom Severin’s article struck a chord in me. Like all of us, Tom is struck by what he calls HOTGS,... Do You Suffer From HOTGS Syndrome?

This week, our friend Tom Severin’s article struck a chord in me. Like all of us, Tom is struck by what he calls HOTGS, and I’m pretty sure we all have it! Many of our garages or storage spaces become almost unusable over the years…we know it but seldom do anything about it! Well, maybe Tom will give us some help!

From Tom Severin:

I was hanging out in my garage one day with good buddy Bruce. He had a project to work on and I, well, I just felt like hanging out. (It is my garage, after all!)

At one point the conversation turned to this nasty malady that afflicts so many men – me included – which I call HOTGS Syndrome. Care to know more? Step inside my garage that Tuesday afternoon…

Tom’s garage is stuffed floor to ceiling


You know, Bruce, we men seem to have difficulty throwing away good stuff. I mean, look at this place. I’ve got stuff everywhere and just can’t throw it away. It’s good stuff, of course, but I have piles of it.

I start sorting it out, and I end up moving it from one spot to another spot. Any flat surface — stuff ends up on it. I clear off my work bench, and a week later it’s already cluttered.

Look here: On the camping side, I bought six sleeping bags and coolers and stuff for outfitting a couple groups. I keep them because I thought I’d use ‘em again. You never know when you might need it.

“I know what you mean buddy,” Bruce looks at me over his shoulder. “What if the grandkids want to go camping?”

Sure, this stuff is organized, but do I really need it? This first rack here is all sorts of different camping stuff, including sleeping bags and tents. I don’t know if they’re all good tents, though.


Over there you see the bag compressors I use for work.

You know my work bench. See the shelves up above? Look at all that crap. Yeah, I’m organized, Bruce, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have too much crap.

What is HOTGS Syndrome?

If I want to generate space – meaning I intend to buy something – I have to decide where to put it. What do I get rid of to make room?

I could hold a garage sale, but I can’t let go of the stuff. That’s the problem.

I know you have the same problem, Bruce. “Of course.”

I think this is a common malady that men have. I’m going to give it a name: Holding On To Good Stuff, or HOTGS for short. I pronounce that like “hot guess.”

Remember: We’re not hoarding. We’re hanging onto good stuff.

There’s a nasty flip side to this. When I do throw out something to create a little space, I immediately have something else to go there.

Now, as far as letting go, the best piece of advice I once received: Take a picture of the object, then throw the object away. Hang the picture somewhere prominently, and you can ‘enjoy’ that item forever.


How a HOTGS space differs from a normal workspace

“You see, Tom,” as Bruce takes a pause. “We don’t have piles of newspapers and magazines. We have good stuff.”

And unfinished projects. And heaven forbid you’d finish one project before starting another. That’s just not the life of a HOTGS man.

“Plus, you’d mess up the creative process. Say you have a great idea? Start it before you forget it”

“And let’s say you’re working on a project on one side of the garage that belongs on the other side,” the wise sage continues, “As you walk across the garage to put that in its place, how many projects do you see that might distract you?”

Not only that, you might have to wait on parts. You have gone on to the next project so you can keep going. If anyone asks why I’m not working on a particular project, I say, “I’m waiting for parts.”

You know what? I move things from here over to there, then move that one from there over to this space. Get all done, and haven’t accomplished a damn thing. Still don’t have any more space than I did before.

Buy pricier items to save space

One thing I’ve noticed is that, in some cases, an expensive version is smaller than its cheaper counterpart.

“Counterpart? C’mon, Tom. What’s with the big word? I know for a fact you’ve got more parts than you can count! And yet, you can never have enough. Especially spare parts. Spare parts guarantee you won’t ever need that part!”

For example, I could replace my stereo system with something that’s smaller and in all likelihood sounds better. The speakers, for sure, are smaller and of higher quality.

So, when you decide to replace something, you can replace it with newer technology that’s smaller, better, faster.

The exception to that is the TV. It’s gotta be bigger. But they’re flatter, today. Think of the space you save by getting rid of that old cathode ray tube TV and just getting a flat screen. They’re cheap, and you put one everywhere.

“Another solution is to hang stuff from the ceiling in the garage,” he adds.

But I’ve done that already. The point of this article is that men who suffer from HOTGS simply can’t throw away good stuff.

Take those golf clubs that haven’t seen a course since the turn of the century. Or that canoe that hasn’t been in the water in years. Or the racquetball and tennis rackets gathering dust in a closet somewhere. You used to go bow hunting. You can’t pull back the bow anymore. But you don’t give up the bow.

You gave up on the sports, but you can’t give up on the sports item.

Garage projects simply won’t get done

I come out here all the time and seems like these projects just don’t get done. Oh, I have good excuses, Bruce: It’s too hot in here or Mary Pat hands me a honey-do list.
But even if I do get out here, I could spend hours and not get anything done.

So, I’m thinking of offering solutions.

“There is no solution,” Bruce responds.

Hey, Bruce. Remember what William Shatner used to say during the intro to the “Star Trek” episodes: “Space: The Final Frontier.” You see, Bruce, we’ve conquered all the other issues. We just haven’t figured out how to conquer space; this kind of space.

“I’ll agree with you there, old buddy.”

We have all this stuff and not enough space. I imagine our kids will come in and clean it out someday. It doesn’t mean anything to them.

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Tom Severin

Tom Severin is an International 4-Wheel Drive Trainers Association© certified professional 4WD Trainer and a Wilderness First Responder (WFR), and President, Badlands Off Road Adventures.

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