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After Work: Stuff And Junk

…I also wondered about other families’ hoarding habits. I passed a space crammed with old toys and firewood. Here was another with coils of cable and electrical piping. Old window frames cozied up to bags of old clothes. Almost everybody seemed to be storing a baby’s highchair. There were skis that probably hadn’t touched the snow in decades. Here a half-deflated basketball…

Dona Gibbs reveals what came into view when the residents of a New York apartment building were asked to move their stored stuff from the basement.

People and their junk are not easily parted.

For all our professing that we’ll never be slaves of our possessions, Ever-Enthusiastic husband and I have amassed a mountain of stuff in our almost forty years together.

These are things too good to throw away. Like two perfectly good lamps.

There are other things we might use one day. We never know when we might get the urge to invite fifty people into our smallish digs. Then we’d certainly need an extra silver tray.

And there are things we’re sentimental about. Ah, remember when our four-year old son used to ride around busily hoisting toy cars with that wooden crane?

So like many middle-class Americans we have a rented storage room. The facility is pretty spiffy. It’s climate controlled and kept spotlessly clean. From time to time we’ve wondered if someone wasn’t living in the unit two doors down from ours.

Anyway thank goodness, for our storage unit. We don’t have to have any wrenching partings from forty-five year old cancelled checks.

Today our rented unit was a port in storm.

About a month ago all the tenants in our New York building received a notice. Everyone had to move their stuff from the basement. The basement was going to be renovated. All asbestos was going to be removed, in accordance with the law. And it was going to be cleaned and painted. Hooray!

Everything from the little prison cell-like lockers had to be removed. The notice said the building staff would gladly help tenants move their junk heaps up into the apartments. Or assist them in hauling things out to the curb where sanitation trucks would rumble away with the cast-offs.

For us it was an easy choice. We had our rental storage.

For others it was a difficult decision. It was clear that the renovation couldn’t be accomplished speedily. It’s too big a job. And the idea of living for months and months with an artificial Christmas tree surrounded by half empty paint cans, a rusty bike and a three-legged chair obviously was repugnant. So most people were (sob) tossing the contents of their lockers into the trash.

I did a tremendous amount of tossing before Ever-Enthusiastic Husband came down to join in. Actually, what I most feared was that he’d start to retrieve things.

It was therapeutic. I could grow a little nostalgic over a glue gun and floral foam. Muse about a ridiculous feathered hat I picked up a flea market. Ponder why I hung on to a folding vanity mirror when I not longer had the vanity.

I also wondered about other families’ hoarding habits. I passed a space crammed with old toys and firewood. Here was another with coils of cable and electrical piping. Old window frames cozied up to bags of old clothes. Almost everybody seemed to be storing a baby’s highchair. There were skis that probably hadn’t touched the snow in decades. Here a half-deflated basketball.

Each locker told a story about the family, I thought. Disjointed, perhaps, but a story nonetheless. They were happy stories for the most part. About babies that were wheeled around the park. One-on-one basketball with Dad. Renovation projects that were completed ( but you never know when you might need to do a little touch-up work.)

And I could grow philosophical. We are a rich society in that we consume so much. The rest, it seems, we toss out. Or store, which is only delaying the inevitable.

One of my co-workers used to tour Colonial Williamsburg once a year. It grounded him, he said.

“Did you know,” he asked me, “that people only threw out one Baggie’s worth of junk a year?”

“Gee,” I replied sarcastically, “I didn’t know they had Baggies back then.

He glared at me.

He would be truly appalled at the results of today’s activity sitting out on the curb.

I know I am. And probably so are the sanitation workers.

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