Everybody has stuff.
Now, I don’t mean the generic put away in the closet “stuff” that you pull out once every other year and check its value on eBay. I mean real “stuff” that takes up space the size of a small village.
As most of you know, Ol’ Dutch and Miss Trixie make a winter excursion southward about this time of year to avoid me having to shovel any snow.
When I retired, I strapped a snow shovel on my roof and drove south until someone asked me “what’s that on top of your car” at which point I then drove another 200 miles and called it good.
Being retired and with a big ole RV certainly has its plusses and one of them is being able to pick and choose where I live and when I want to be there.
Our usual yearly migration from the headwaters of the Rio Grande to its estuary down in South Texas – about a 1,300-mile jaunt via Dallas – takes us by a lot of people’s houses and all the stuff they collect.
If you don’t believe me, drive by any neighborhood on a Saturday morning and you can see open garage doors with piles of items in storage. What is amazing about most of that valuable treasure is that its value on the garage sale circuit won’t net more than $500, but the stuff stays inside while the $30,000 car sits outside next to the $50,000 pickup.
This interesting phenomenon carries over to the vast millions of storage buildings being rented. And, once again the economics make no sense because the stuff inside has less value than a year’s storage fee will cost you. However, we like our stuff and some of it may be keepsakes like the cigar ring from Uncle Cyrus’ 1923 World Series cigar or great grandmothers pedal sewing machine or the 65 Cabbage Patch dolls and Beanie Babies we bought banking on the belief they would be our 401(k) retirement.
Not only do we store all this stuff, we also want to make sure we keep it close, especially if it is too big to fit into a garage or a storage unit.
This week I’m deer hunting with my son Bubs in Kansas. We drove many a mile through farm country and saw lots of farmers who, too, have accumulated a bunch of stuff out in the yards.
You would think that with all the thousands and thousands of acres a Kansas farmer has, he would find a place to store his menagerie of tools, old cars, broken toilets, yard ornaments and other keepsakes out of sight. But that isn’t the case.
Driving past the oceans of farmland, most of the locals had all of their machinery past and present piled up about 10 feet from their front door.
And not to be left out of the loop as far as pound-foolish goes, these farmers will leave a $200,000 tractor or combine out in the weather so that they can keep grandpa’s old milk separator, an ancient Krause one way plow or some other keepsake undercover.
Trixie, ever the wise one in our association, pointed out to me that I am guilty of something even far more foolish than all these folks I’m teasing. When I got divorced, all of my prized tools worth about $1,000 went into a storage shed and ended up costing me about $8,000 to rent.
Last spring, I retrieved my stuff and brought it to my own barn down in Texas.
Bubs came out and helped us unload the moving truck. First set of tools came off, he said, “Hey, Dad, can I borrow this saw.” Well, now, you know that Ol’ Dutch is a generous man with his son, so I said sure. Bubs took it – and promptly broke it.
A week later, Bubs decided there was another tool he needed. And, a week after that, another tool. This has been going on now for almost a year. Out of the $1,000 worth of tools, half have been discarded due to Bubs being rough on things and half still run, but live at his house, permanently, I guess. And, Ol’ Dutch is some $9,000 in the hole.
You know what the moral of this story is? Those Kansas farmers were right. If you have sons, keep your stuff where you can see it and make sure it’s returned in good working order.