Driving south into rural Maryland the four-lane highway, dotted with traffic lights, cleaves through strip malls offering the usual rural services in a recovering economy: bail bonds, pawn brokers, mortgage re-financing, pay day loans, and self- storage. It was the latter—sitting with my foot on the brake at a really long red light—that caught my attention.
New York City has lots of places to put stuff, and clever ads in the subway that make it hip to stow your stuff away from your 450 sq. ft. apt. These places have convincing names: Public Storage. Container Space. Manhattan Mini Storage.
But out here—where the land is flat, where the housing developments are still half finished, where the service folk all have that edgy, burned look that says “this is job two of three, whatever you want, make it snappy,”—these places to put things are simply called Self-Storage. Most of them with the hyphen.
George Carlin holds the patent on this particular riff. Check it out. The “Stuff” rant. And we’ve all got stuff we really don’t need. A book or two. The pile of magazines we’re going to read next week. The clothes we’ll fit into after the diet. The college papers we can’t bear to part with.
Right after I’d left my last regular paycheck job, I came across a book about stuff—actually about getting rid of stuff—that helped open up my life. Clear Your Clutter With Feng Shui by Karen Kingston. Six big black garbage bags later I found myself open to lots of new things. I highly recommend it. Physical stuff can really get in the way.
And then… Self-Storage. For the stuff that you can’t bring yourself to put in those garbage bags. Having a place where you yourself bring your stuff to store, stuff it in yourself, and lock the door, maybe leaving it for the next Storage Wars reality series can be a really good thing.
But what if Self Storage really meant what it said? What if I could just, you know, store myself somewhere? I don’t mean using the place as a low-rent place to live (though I’ve always thought that might provide a good alternative). No, I mean how about storing those parts of myself that I either don’t want or don’t use?
Start with whatever it is that makes me say Yes to a request when I should say, Let me think about that. Box up the too-quick rush to judgment over the actions of friends and family. Oh, and let’s not forget the lazy slug sloth that sags on the couch, able only to press the Netflix app to get at every single episode of the next House of Cards within a two day period. Hours of my life I will never see again, don’t ask.
I think it would be best if this Self Storage unit were someplace far away. I’m not sure I really want to give up House of Cards just yet.