Saturday 7 April 2018

Storage Wars

While M'sister was visiting from England for a few days last week, we were briefly parked opposite the shop in town which has the Lotto franchise. I had a wee rant about how the commercial company which runs the franchise gets free publicity from the state broadcaster twice a week when RTE announces the winners and reads out the numbers. For a brief time before 8pm every Wednesday and Saturday, thousands entertain fantasies about squaring their mortgage; going on a cruise and throwing a huge party in the village hall. There is something unprotestant in the Lotto, like getting something for nothing rather than by dint of hard work. A large chunk of RTE's television programming feeds envy into the soul as we watch other people have money wash over them. Antiques Roadshow, Storage Wars, Kazakhstan's Got Talent all work on the idea that ordinary people like us can get suddenly rich and/or famous. In our year of doing the pension run, Dau.II and I used to sack out with her grandmother and watch Pointless and then Antiques Roadshow and sometimes Storage Wars.  "That's Meissen" the old lady would say, and she was usually correct; years of watching training pays off. Much as I liked watching AR and SW with my rellies, there was a nagging feeling that each programme was a fix that was playing us like emotional fish. Without a bit of edge, nobody is going to watch.

The premise of Storage Wars is that people rent windowless rooms in order to store all That Stuff which they have acquired but for which they have no room at home . . . and then fail to pay the rent. After 3 missed months, the contract says that the storage company can auction off the contents. It can get ugly [large people fighting alert].

This all came back to me because of an article about the economics of stuff storage which is worth $38 billion a year in the USA. That's about $1,000 for every man-woman-and-child in the country., and the footprint is something like 300 million sq.m. of lockable concrete boxes. This was flagged on MeFi where the comments, as often on that forum, are at least as interesting as the original article. They are more interesting because they are more diverse because they summarise the experience and feelings of dozens of different people about stuff, loss, acquisitiveness. Some anti-Stuff MeFi comments draw ripostes about compassion and being non-judgmental.  The famous William Morris quote about how to live wins both ways on this "If you want a golden rule that will fit everybody, this is it: Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful". Grand so, I'll shift all the ugly, might-be-useful, stuff across town and store it in an industrial warehouse.

The title of the MeFi post is We house our stuff but not our people which sounds a little cross and judgmental. But there are people resourceful enough to game the system to do both by living in a storage unit. That's more spacious than sleeping in your car.

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