You Are Four Decisions Away from Pooping in a Bucket

On a recent episode of Hoarders, super cleaner Matt Paxton (pictured) said that all of us are “four or five bad decisions away from pooping in a bucket.” What might those decisions be?

1. Decide to try meth.

2. Decide it’s better to spend all day doing meth than working or maintaining your personal hygiene.

3. Decide to barricade yourself inside your house with all your possessions, including garbage.

4. Decide it’s not worth chasing all those rats out because they mean well.

5. Decide that getting your toilet fixed is not important because you hate repair people coming to the house and trampling all over your beautiful hoard.


Seriously, though. I’ve heard adages about “most people are two or three paychecks/one big medical emergency away from living on the street,” and I get that. That has more to do with the rising cost of living than it does to do with people having gross personal hygiene, though. Matt – whose work cleaning up hoarders’ disgusting houses has earned him the nickname St. Matt from fans of the show – has a great sense of empathy for the people he works with, and I think his comment was designed to help viewers sympathize with a very unsympathetic hoarder by reminding us that she started out a normal person like us. Because many of the people who appear on Hoarders are mentally ill, he was also pointing out that untreated mental illnesses can result in slow downward slides. But am I four or five bad decisions away from having to shit in a bucket? I hope not. And I hope my bad decisions come spaced out between good ones so I never have to find out how bad it could really get.

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    • Shawn Shafner

      Hoarding seems to me to be a symptom of cultural constipation–we’re so focused on consumption, we can forget how to balance the input and the output. Pooping in a bucket can be a good thing, though, especially if you’re looking to make humanure for your garden ( We’re exploring all sorts of alternative options where I work, The People’s Own Organic Power Project (

    • Valerie

      I feel like if any of us are really 4 decisions away from pooping in a bucket it would be more like 1. get locked out of the house. 2. have to poop, etc. But…yikes.

    • Orion

      You seriously misinterpreted not only the message of what the guy said but also its simple context. He was not referring to a woman, or the subject hoarder of that episode. He was referring to a homeless guy to whom the -male- subject allotted a space in the subject’s backyard to crash, where the homeless guy was shitting in a bucket because he did not own a toilet. As far as the message that the cleaner guy was trying to communicate goes, it was obviously rhetorical and had nothing to do with hygiene or the literal act of shitting in a bucket. The cleaner guy was empathizing with the homeless guy because its a slippery slope to destitution, to which everyone is susceptible.

    • Sean

      I second the motion that “pooping in a bucket can be a good thing, though, especially if you’re looking to make humanure for your garden”