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Sunday, February 19, 2012

A week of attending self-storage auctions

            It’s 2:30 am on Sunday morning, and I can’t sleep, in part because of pains here and there.  For some odd reason, my mind drifts to a person I went to school with named Ray.  Arguably, he was the best athlete in my high school class.  In sports, at the varsity level, he was assigned uniform number 10 in all the sports he participated in.  In my town, many, at that time, would have realized that piece of trivia with regard to football and basketball, which many came to watch, and few would have realized in track (I don’t remember any other schools who had numbers on track uniforms) and baseball.

            The last time I saw Ray was my freshman year in college.  The school I was at played his.  His team won 64-0.  He was a fourth string defensive back, wearing 42.  I, who had played tackle in high school, was an injured kicker, and had a little number on my back.  Ray looked odd with a 42 on his shirt.  Since I had a different number nearly every year in anything I played, I have no clue whether I looked particularly odd with a 13.  From hearsay, I believe that he graduated and wound up working in Silicon Valley. I, as I have said previously, have done many things, with no particular order or success since graduating.

            This week, I did something which, for me, at this point in my life is a minor success.  Every day this week, I went to self-storage unit auctions.  Because of the three reality shows on tv, and the economy, the crowds at these have gotten larger and larger, which means the prices paid have been going up.  On Thursday, while waiting for one to start, one man was showing another a picture of himself with Dave, who appears as a bidder in one of those programs, and whose catch phrase is calling out a bid with the phrase “Yup.”  According to the man with the picture, he saw Dave at a flea market in San Diego selling baseball caps emblazoned “Yup”.  That might not have been memorable to me except that, where I live, self-storage auctions aren’t much like the programs on tv.  First, almost always, there isn’t animosity between the various bidders, as in the programs.  Secondly, in this area, the auctioneer isn’t trying to sound like the traditional auctioneer, with the constant chatter to hype up the audience.  At many places I go, the auctioneer works every day for the self storage company, and tries to make the bidding as clear as possible.  In fact, the day before the story above, I was at a place, and there was a man wearing a cap that said “OK”, and at a certain point in the bidding, the auctioneer was saying, “30”, and this man responds, “OK”. The auctioneer says, “OK, what?”  He says, “30.”  The auctioneer says, “I already have 30.”  The man gets it—here, you call out the price of the next bid, which is clearer to everyone than grunts, sounds, and hand signals.

            On Wednesday, I got two extremely small units.  By Friday, as I have problems standing for long periods of time, I felt worn out, and thinking about having to be at flea markets for the next two days, and having gotten little out of all the “work” I’d done all week (by now, just standing up for long periods is work).  Thinking about what I did at football practice in high school is not just a far off memory, but is downright impossible now.  Anyway, as it is Friday, there have been four previous days for others to spend their money, and I had seen some units sell for prices that just made me shake my head.  Figuratively, of course—to do so literally might cause a headache.  The second unit they opened in this old, downtown warehouse with wooden units all with bedroom doors on them, had what looked like a dusty pile of junk, all wrapped in those convenience store bags, and a case of aerosol Kilz.  Today, many to most persons keep some of their items in Sterlite boxes, so everything in convenience store bags implies this person was too poor to even own plastic boxes.  I won it at $80, in part because I knew the case of Kilz would cover the majority of that cost.

            I couldn’t get the elevator to work in this place, so everything had to be carried down a flight of steps.  As I started to pick things up, you start to learn about the person.  This person was a man, and either wasn’t married, or hadn’t been in a long time, because none of the things appeared to be things a woman would have.  Also, encouragingly, since it was a man, there were no loose child support collection papers (a common thing I wind up with), IEP’s, bill collection papers, or porn.  I find pieces of house fix-up items, such that this man attempted to get by doing unlicensed handyman work, like light electrical, plumbing, and a tad of painting (the only paint item I got was the Kilz).  I found items that appeared to suggest that he did security guard work, and had studied a little criminal justice and karate. I found a couple of Bibles (although almost everyone has a few of those) and a couple of radios, which, when I got home to test, were set to the Christian station I tend to listen to most often.

            As I went further into the pile, I find a portable generator, and a mini-refrigerator.  I cannot help but think the price would have been significantly higher if those items had been visible.  This man was African-American, so there were some black culture books in the mix, and some assorted law books, all dating back to the mid-1980’s.  Unusually, I found extremely little clothing, and what I did get was really stained, like it was work clothing.  I got a few items of Redskins items (I’m not a fan of that team, but I live in the area which is part of their fan base, so those items would sell quickly).  I got no CD’s for the first time in recent memory.  I got three large boxes of recorded blank vhs tapes, a few Betas (I’d forgotten Beta tapes existed) and a Beta recorder and two of the earliest cell phones, the ones that were in a shoulder pack, cost $2000 at a time when calls on them were $4 a minute.  These might have minor collectable value, they’re so old.

            In some ways, I detest the phrase, “There, but for the grace of God, go I,” as it implies that we can slip into any kind of sin, depravity, and/or garbage at any moment, and I just don’t believe that.  When I got saved, there were things that I didn’t know existed, but if I did, I wouldn’t have had any desire or inkling of touching.  I also recognize that there seems to be in every person one area in which we must desire to cling to God and desire His help and guidance with.  In a secular, physical living way, though, I can relate to a degree to this unknown man.  Maybe because of the dating of the items involved, this man may have passed away, and no one knew about this unit.  I don’t know, he was unusually good about not storing old paperwork that needed to be destroyed (or, on the other hand, he wasn’t good about storing old records that should be, just in case). 

            Yesterday, I went to the flea market.  My son, whose money I was spending, helped because I physically couldn’t have spread out all this stuff and helped all the customers.  Economically, I did something right this week.  Today, where I am, it will rain and be windy.  Within an hour’s drive to the north, it will snow.  I won’t be out there, today.  As I get older, I hopefully am learning to accept small victories without the feeling that I still could have done better, if only because I know my body is telling me that isn’t possible.


            If I haven’t written it before, I intend to write a group of writings on First Thessalonians, but I don’t wish to begin posting until I get to the end, in case I must adjust the beginning for some reason.


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