A collection of short stories providing a unique perspective on Americans' obsession with stuff... Told by the owner of Second Attic Storage chronicling her encounters with peculiar customers and their often bizarre and mysterious stuff...
THE STORIES BEHIND UNPAID UNITS
"This book does something that the popular show "Storage Wars" does not. It manages to tell the stories of the people behind all of the unpaid storage units. If you've ever wondered "Why would someone just let all of there precious treasures (that they've paid or sometimes not paid so much to keep) go to auction?" then this book is for you. It's a quick read but the emotional spectrum runs the gamut from hilarious to heartbreaking." -Review by Premier Self Storage
EXCERPT FROM BOOK
This story epitomizes “One man’s junk is another man’s treasure.” Dave’s wife, Roberta, came in one day. She was enthusiastic. They were moving, so she was going to put things in storage, and take her time sorting through everything. She was determined to have an organized house.
So, moving day came, or should I say moving week? Her pickup came to the unit multiple times. She would always stick her head in the door to say “Hi,” and give an excited progress report. Their storage unit was directly across from the office so I couldn’t help but snoop. The 10x10 filled up, leaving me wondering just how much was actually going to the house.
We did not see her for several weeks. Like many renters, we were instructed to charge her card for the month’s rent, so we didn’t connect the dots when she no longer came to the unit; not until Dave came in.
He sat heavily in the chair. Roberta had a heart attack and was in intensive care. Knowing she was in her mid forties, we encouraged him, and went on about technology…blah, blah. We did not hear anything until the first of the month.
He called, spoke woodenly, saying Roberta had died. Her pleasant and friendly personality had endeared her to us. However, we did not ask for particulars, aware of the difficulty he had giving us the news. The unit was untouched for months.
We continued to charge Roberta’s card until Dave finally called and gave us his credit card for the account. Shortly afterward, he pulled up but did not come to the office. He opened the door for the first time since Roberta closed it months and months ago. I could only see his back. He stood there unmoving, with his shoulders slumped, arms limp at his side, looking up at the things stacked to the 12-foot ceiling.
Even from behind, the posture was bewilderment. The unit was filled front-to-back with just enough room at the front to close the door. He did not move or touch anything. He stood for some time. Finally, he closed the door, replaced the lock and left.
That was two years ago. We continued to charge the card for the ongoing months. Finally, the card was declined and I reasoned that he had given up.
We would have to go through the foreclosure process to free up the unit for rental. To send the certified letters and file the legal notices seemed too cold for this circumstance, although it must eventually happen. I elected to call before that ritual, got a voice mail and left a gentle inquiry about payment. I also called a second number that we had for him and got Roberta’s voice mail. His daughter returned that call, saying Dave had given her Roberta’s phone and that she couldn’t bring herself to change the message.
A week later Dave called. Humbly, he apologized, saying he had a new credit card. I was in shock. He had not abandoned the unit.
I am ashamed that I could not even ask how he was doing, or say how I felt sorrow every time I looked across at Roberta’s unit. Roberta was outgoing and chatty, but Dave had a reserve that did not allow me to step into his emotions. Instead, I assumed a business-like posture, took the card number and thanked him.
Unit A60 is a metal room, with a metal door that is secured with a disc lock. It does not matter what junk or treasure Roberta secured in there. To Dave it is sacred and not to be violated, either in word or deed.
John Dunlap reviews the book for Self Storage Association's Globe Magazine.