Photo courtesy of Pippaloy from MorgueFile

I have moved again, hopefully for the last time for a bit. I need to catch my breath.

I’ll be at this place for a bit, because while it’s not the best place ever, it is roomy. I have a smallish, but perfectly functional kitchen and dining room (complete with an icemaker—time to start making martinis), a second bedroom that doubles as an office (although oddly, I’m writing this at the dining room table), quite a bit of closet space, and a washer and dryer in the unit, so more trips to the laundry.

I can’t remember where I read it, but someone once wrote that there is a god of moving, and with every move you tithe ten percent of your possessions to them. I’m starting to think this is true.

This is not entirely a bad thing of course. Like most of us in the western world, I have accumulated a lot of stuff. And I have no idea where a lot of it came from. And then this happened…

That picture is what it looked like after the water had receeded, but before I opened my storage unit. It was a mess. (I have pictures, but they are too depressing to look at.)

I had put a lot of my stuff in storage (books, mostly), and because it was “climate controlled” I never bothered to insure it. So when heavy rains came and their drainage system overflowed, the entire place flooded. I ended up losing about a third of my book collection, plus a mattress and boxspring, plus a number of items of great sentimental value. This experience taught me three things:

  1. Buy insurance. If you think you don’t need it, you probably do.
  2. Regular insurance does not cover floods.
  3. You have too much stuff already. Lighten your load.

There is a lot to be said for simplifying your life. I even owned a book called Voluntary Simplicity that was about precisely that thing. (It was, in an ironic disregard for cliché, destroyed in this flood.) Simplifying your life is hard, because in the west, and in the United States in particular, we define ourselves by our stuff. Which makes this so funny:

We all know that simplifying is hard. Hell, there are people that will charge you big bucks per hour to examine your life and simplify it for you. (I know, we’re all in the wrong business, right?) How can you possibly decide what to keep and what to throw out?

If you’re lucky, you’ll experience a flood to cut through that particular Gordian knot by efficiently destroying an arbitrary third of your stuff. Or as George Carlin might say, it takes a third of your stuff that you thought you wanted and needed and turns it into shit that you need to take time off from work in order to throw away.

Optional Rant

You don’t need to read this, but I need to rant for a bit. Hence, <rant>

Technically, this was not a flood. A flood happens when natural waterways overflow, which they do from time to time. If you build your house on a river’s flood plain, it will flood. (They call it a “flood plain” for a reason, you know.) You have no one to blame but yourself.

However, this was not a flood. There are no natural bodies of water nearby, and none of the neighboring businesses flooded. This was an entirely man-made disaster, caused by poorly designed and/or poorly maintained drains that couldn’t handle the amount of water three days of heavy rain dumped on them.

Yes, that’s a problem, but my and the other residents’ frustrations were magnified by the ineptitude and poor customer service skills of the staff.

Me: “Does your insurance cover the damage and loss to my possessions?”

Staff: “No. It would only cover water damage.”

Me: “My stuff was damaged by water.”

Staff: “Yes, but it was a flood. Our insurance doesn’t cover that. It would only cover water damage caused by a roof leak or water that magically makes its way into your storage unit.”

Me: “Okay, can I get a discount on this month’s rent, since I’m basically paying to store my sodden belongings until I can sort out the good, the lost, and the salvageable?”

Staff: “No.”

Me: “In that case, can I get a discount on a moving van so I can take my stuff somewhere else?”

Staff: “No.”

Me: “You mean I have no recompense here? I’m paying to store damaged goods that I now have to take a day off of work to sort through?”

Staff: “What does ‘recompense’ mean?”

Me: “Never mind. You mean you can’t offer me anything as compensation for my loss?”

Staff: “Well, a damage recovery company will be here later this week to dry out your unit, if you want to keep storing your stuff here.”

Me: “That’s a tempting offer. When will they be here?”

Staff: “Wednesday morning, between 8 and noon.”

Me: “You can’t be more specific?”

Staff: “Nope.”

Me: “You mean to tell me that in addition to the day I already took off from work to sort through all my stuff, I also need to take an additional half day off because even though you already have a key to my unit, you can’t be bothered to accompany this company to dry out your own building?”

Staff: *Long pause* “Um…yeah, I think so.”

</rant>

TL;DR: I won’t be storing stuff at this place ever again.

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