I can’t ignore my public storage unit, no matter how much I’d like to, because it has eaten my favorite pairs of shoes.
See, before I left for South America last year, I shoved all my worldly possessions, including a cardboard box of my favorite footwear, into this 8 x 10 foot unit. I have not been able to locate this box since I returned to the United States three months ago, despite having ransacked the place multiple times. I just returned from Search No. 3 — and still… nothing.
Visiting my storage unit is not my idea of fun. Actually, I’d rather go dumpster diving in a receptacle of old banana peels, because at least then, you know the stuff around you is destined for a landfill and you won’t have to deal with it anymore. You're not, in fact, paying $40 a month to keep it around.
The density of the stuff inside my storage unit makes maneuvering around inside virtually impossible. So when I am looking for, um, I don’t know, A BOX OF SHOES, I spend most of my time with my feet higher than my shoulders, my body draped over a bookshelf and wrapped around a floor lamp and a box fan.
Some of the boxes in Unit 207 have themes — the labels identifying ‘winter sweaters,’ ‘kitchen utensils’ and ‘framed pictures’ are somewhat accurate. But most boxes contain a conglomeration of clutter that is not at all related. Take the first box you encounter as you open the door, for example. It contains a bottle of perfume, the vocabulary flashcards I made before taking the GRE, a battery charger to a broken camera and some coat hangers. (Toward the end of the move out of my apartment in Chattanooga, I vaguely recall sweeping tabletop contents into boxes with my forearm.)
The state of the storage unit has steadily declined with each shoe-searching mission. At first, the unit looked orderly inside — boxes perched neatly on top of each other, heaviest on the bottom, and a blue tarp stretched over the beanbag chair and carpet to protect them from dirt. It’s not like that anymore. Now, boxes tip at odd angles, heavy ones crushing light ones, and the blue tarp is balled up against the right-hand wall, not protecting anything at all.
Let me now take a moment to bullet point my feelings.
Reasons I hate Public Storage Unit 207:
- It contains crap I never wanted in the first place and certainly don’t want now: gas station receipts, near-empty lotion bottles, power cords to unidentified appliances. (For some reason, I have also stored an abundance of painting supplies from that time I decided to take up oil painting.)
- The lack of temperature control. Shoe hunting is a sweaty job in the summer, a frigid task in the winter.
- Looking at the inside of my unit makes me despair at the thought of moving, which otherwise excites me to no end.
OK, OK. I concede. There are a few reasons I love Public Storage Unit 207:
- Bruce, the officious manager of the lot, who has a number of rules you must follow as a renter. Rule No. 1: No sleeping in your unit (i.e. No storing yourself).
- The switchless light. The bare bulb inside automatically turns on when you open the door to your unit. Unless you lock yourself inside (which would be approaching a violation to Rule No. 1), you won’t ever see your unit in the dark. This phenomenon has me fascinated and also begs the question: If a light is off inside a storage unit, but nobody is there to see it, is it really dark?
- It keeps my clutter out of sight and out of mind, except for when I get to pining over my missing shoes.