Continued from The Storage Unit Part 2
We take turns looking inside, weighing the size, juggling the numbers.
“How far back does it go?”
“I can’t tell. Too much stuff is in the way.”
“Well let’s get started.”
There’s piles of stuff and askew boxes waist high from the doorway on back. Everything is kitty-wompous. The cockeyed piles grew taller along the walls. This will be fun.
We couldn’t tell how far back it went. There was so much stuff that I couldn’t identify anything in particular. I grabbed the first thing on top at the entrance and moved out of the way. Others did the same. Let’s make piles of donate, trash, sell, and keep.
Soon, my husband exclaims in high excitement, “I’ve always wanted one of these!”
“What is it?” I asked, looking up from sorting.
He held up a tool of foreign identity. “Yea, for you.” Really, I’m happy he found something exciting to keep. He passed it to me and I put it in his new keep pile.
“Can I have this?” Nikki asks me holding a bright yellow plastic bucket with a mesh top.
A little circle sticker on top declares “$5” in red pencil.
“A bait bucket?” I replied. I sniff it. Nothing. It looks new. No fish smell. “Sure, why not.” I’m happy Nikki found something exciting to keep.
“Oh, can I have this?” my Mom asks excitedly? She holds up a new sealed in box 1.25 inch curling iron, exactly the size and type she wanted. Why would he have that?
“Yes, of course you can.” I’m really happy she found something exciting to keep.
They pull out boxes, loose items, what not, what’s this, and can I have its’ for a few hours. Out in the hallway, I fervently sort as fast as they pull stuff out of the storage unit. I make piles lining the hallway. They get longer and longer.
“Can we take a break and take some loads to the trash and car?” I suggest.
Even though the hallway goes on in endless perpetuity, I’m conscious of not wanting to make piles of his stuff to infinity and beyond. Keep it organized and manageable is todays mantra. And keep the people fed. “We should drink some water and have a snack too.”
Reluctantly, they step away from the doorway and behold my methodical creation.
“Whoa, that’s a lot of stuff.”
“What’s this pile?”
“And this one?”
“We’re not keeping that!” and so on.
We need to get the dolly and the cart. Thank the universe we brought those too.
Each of us grabbed something and we headed out. We only made five wrong turns, which I count as a success.
My husband and daughter were completely lost. My mom was only semi-lost. I created navigation parameters.
When you get to this weird doorway, turn right. When you get to the second stairway, turn right or left depending on if you’re heading to or from the car. Count three hallways and turn right…and so on.
By some miracle and without too much pain, we found the car, loaded it up, and returned with the dolly and cart. We finished a few more loads, and then sent my Mom to find the trash. It turned out to be a large dumpster!
After lightening up the hallway of donations, we got back to it. A few hours later, I got up and roared, “I want to find something exciting!”
“Can I look?” I ask-demanded.
Lots of apologies and didn’t realizes’ later, I approached the door and peeked in.
“That’s all?” I asked. “I would have thought we got further along with all the bounty you’ve pulled out,” explaining my lackluster impression of our accomplishments.
“There was a lot of stuff at the entrance.”
I took one-step inside and began passing out items. Boat paraphernalia permeated throughout: buoys, canopy’s, sails, ropes, self-tailing winches (I was learning some boat things), battens, radar deflectors, compasses, anchors (two, large), anchor chain (300-foot steel, too heavy to move), bilge pump, bad weather clothing, boat this, boat that, boat unknown goodies and things and stuff. Take a pic and send to cousin to identify. If she doesn’t want it, do a quick google and put in trash, donate, or sell pile accordingly.
Since we couldn’t budge the 300-foot steel anchor chain, I solved the dilemma by dragging the chain out of the crate and down the hallway. I moved it 10 feet at a time. I made a pile 30 feet away. Then I moved the empty crate to the pile and re-filled the crate, 2 feet at a time. I smugly impressed myself with my extreme creativity.
“Nice, but how are you going to get it to the car and into the car and out of the car?” asked my husband.
My smile plunged off my face. “We’ll use the cart and we can use the same method,” I replied smartly.
“It’s not worth it,” he responded, “I’m not moving it. Let’s just leave it here.”
“I’ll move it,” I promised. I knew this was worth good money. And I did move it. One section of chain at a time, to where it still resides, on the side of my house. Turns out no one wants to drive that far inland to buy quality anchor chain.
Within a few minutes, “Ewww look at this!” I exclaimed excitedly. “I’ve always wanted one of these.” I proudly held up a boxed up wooden painting easel. I peeked inside to make sure. Acrylic paint tubes and wooden easel looked back at me. Yes! It contained what was on the outside label! That wasn’t always the case. Note crunchy sticks cylinder container nesting the pieces of a $500 brass propeller.
“What do you need that for?” my husband asks. “Yeah,” my mom agrees.
“I’ve always wanted to try painting. I’m keeping it.”
To keep the peace, we move on.
“Whoa, look at this,” my husband pulls out a fancy telescope box.
“Make sure that’s what’s inside before you get all excited.”
It was as advertised. “And it has automatic tracking,” he is soooo excited. It makes me happy to see him happy.
Happy as a bug, my daughter carried her treasure bucket up and down the hall. She loaded it up with treasures: pens, office supplies, a briefcase, a hardhat, and itty bits of whatever fit. An engineer at some point, we found gobs of old engineering drawing tools. I gave those to Nikki to keep.
“What’s this?” John asks as he pulls out a milk crate of metal parts.
“He had an electric bike business for a while. Do those look like bicycle motor parts,” I ask him?
“Yeah, I think your right. Cool!” I put it in his pile. He hasn’t mountain biked since his mountain biking buddy moved out of state. Consequently, he’s out of shape and hesitant to start up again, but these engine parts spark his imagination. I can see his plans to put the engine together, attach it to his bike, and hit the trails. I’m happy for him.
My Father must have had a garage sale or wanted to have one, because ‘for sale’ stickers tagged almost every item we pulled out. Extremely optimistic and unrealistic ‘for sale’ priced stickers.
There were books, cassette tapes, clothes, videos cassettes. I kept a few things to sell and donated the rest.
I found a few large blank canvases to go with my easel and quickly put them in my keep pile.
My husband found binoculars. My mom found binoculars. My daughter found a collection of yo-yo’s and mini binoculars. The mini binoculars attached themselves to her face for the next few weeks.
And then I saw it, a red and white bona fide bullhorn. It was the thing. The thing I wanted to keep to remind me of him. I picture him using it on a yacht yelling instructions to crew. My husband and Mom went wild. We debated. We argued. We fought. We judged. This was the thing. I resorted to trying to explain it to them. Why it’s the thing.
I want something that reminds me of him in a good way. He might have used this in a yacht race! I turned it on, push the button, and say “testing 1, 2, 3, testing”. No response. My shoulders sag. It went in my pile to the disgust of the other adults in the area. Dear daughter was on my side. It was cool. I couldn’t wait to put new batteries in it and test it out at home!
A plethora of milk crates filled with miscellaneous items lined the unit. At more than twenty milk crates, I stopped counting. Most of them were sturdy and nice. I wanted to keep them for yard stuff and recycling.
On one run to the SUV, we met a guy. Actually, I met a guy. Parked next to us, he quietly emptied his storage shed and loaded up his truck. The SUV, approached donation capacity, and I calculated how many runs to the donation center we would have to do. I asked the guy if he wanted a large take-up-too-much-space item that I was just going to donate anyway.
“Yes!” he happily answered.
I offered a few more things. He took a few more things.
We began chatting. What do you do with all this? Do you take it down south? He sold things at swap meets. Anything free equaled potential income for him. This was his source of income and business.
“Why are you giving all this away?” he asked in confusion in a thick accent. English was not his first language, but we got by enough to understand each other (I think). I explained. Then I asked, “How much stuff can you take? We can give you a lot of stuff if you want.”
A wide grin split across his face, “Si! Gracias!”
Brilliant win-win negotiated on the spot thanks to mindless chitchat and willingness to explore curiosity.
I explained the situation to my team. We started decanting the SUV we had been filling all day. My new friend packed his storage unit to the brim. We made more trips from our unit, back to the cars.
He looked at me and at my daughter, and then raised a handful of Teddy Bear. “Is ok?” he asked pointing to it and then to my daughter. He happily handed her the brown Teddy Bear with a red ribbon around its neck. She smiled bigger than a doublewide driving down the highway. Oh no, not more stuffed animals, ugh. They were both so happy though, I couldn’t say no.
When his truck looked like the Green Acres truck moving to Beverly Hills, he called mercy. “Gracias. I can’t take more.”
Everyone was full and happy.
About Mr. Brown Teddy Bear. Once our friend left, I gently pulled it from her face and explained he needed a bath before we could love him that close. I asked then and every toy purge since, “Are you sure we can’t give him to a kid in need who really wants a brown teddy bear?” No, somehow, he became her must keep item to remind her of…? That day? A Grandpa she never met? A kind stranger we met in a weird building? After asking for 4 years, I finally let it go. She could keep him. He enjoyed a handful of washing machine baths…and he was her keeper thing.
We re-filled the SUV and made a donation run. Opps we did it again. Hangrily we needed to eat. ASAP. Some things you just never learn.
Our routine evolved efficiently. I lost track of the trash and donation runs. We grew comfortable with the layout. Even my husband figured out the route from the Suburban to the unit. We stopped for the day, when the facility closed.
On the way home, we grabbed to-go food for dinner, except for my Mom. She and my cousin went to Dave’s for the big dinner party. We showered and went to bed, passing out immediately.
To be continued in The Storage Unit Part 4 coming soon. Like What You Read? Sign up for my Newsletter