Like most folks, I have my guilty pleasures when it comes to TV. You know, those shows you don’t readily admit to watching and that you try to justify by likening them to car crashes from which you simply can’t look away. I’m sure you have yours and I’m sorry if I’m holding up an uncomfortable light in the darkened room where you indulge in your decadent viewing. In fairness, I’ll tell you that mine are (cough, cough) “Bring It” or as I like to call it, “Why Are We Teaching Our Girls To Be Strippers” and Married At First Sight (how old am I again?) Much as I’d like to say otherwise, you can find me sprawled out on my bed, chip bag in hand (if I’m going to be bad, I believe in going all the way) eyes glued to the TV when those two shows are on. I also read the live tweets while they’re on although I don’t tweet myself out of the fear one of my 10 followers will find out that I’m a trash TV watcher.
Funny I should call it trash TV because the kind of “reality” shows I can’t watch are the ones about the buying and selling of storage units. I think the philosophy behind these programs is supposed to be “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure” but that’s not how it feels to me. When I see the ads the tag line I come up with is “pricing peoples’ memories” and it makes me sad. Maybe it’s because I took a trip to Boston last January (just ahead of the hundreds of blizzards) specifically to empty out my storage unit and it made me sad. I’d been paying to store my stuff from other life for over five years. I no longer live in Boston, my kids are grown and it was time to move on. Plus I was anxious that I be the one to determine what happens to my things, not the storage company or mother nature. The junk people stood by as I opened each box and decided which of my memories to keep and which to throw into the dumpster. I had to touch each one of my children’s old toys and my late husband’s golf trophies then let them go. I kept the tears at bay for the sake of the junk folks and for my granddaughter who happily ran up and down the long corridor of doors, making a new memory of her own.
That’s why those shows seem cruel to me. I can’t believe none of those buyers feel empathy for the people whose belongings are in those units. If they do, they don’t display it for the cameras. They paw through the discarded, abandoned, forgotten items making callous remarks like “Chump change,” and “This is nothing but a dump.” Surely they have keepsakes of important times of their own. Surely they have experienced the loss of a possession that was special to them. Perhaps they lost a loved one and hang on to a material object as a way of hanging on to the person. I think if I were in their position, the first time I saw something that even remotely reminded me of a time in my life, evoked a memory from my own experience, I’d have to pull down the heavy steel door and walk away. I feel the least they could do is talk about it on camera. They could allow the viewer the real emotion in wondering out loud about the circumstances around each unit owner losing their belongings.
But they don’t. At least, not that I’ve seen in the half minutes I’ve been able to stomach watching a couple of episodes. Instead they greedily assess the contents, then scurry to the nearest dealer or retailer with anything deemed valuable to sell the goods for the best price. Big red plus or minus numbers appear in the corner of the screen to let the viewer know whether the buyer was a “winner” or “loser” on any given unit. But isn’t the underlying understanding that the unit owner is the ultimate loser? Then again, maybe not. After all, those buyers also get the karma attached to disposing of other’s possesions without knowing the provenance and good luck with that. Anyway, I threw my junk in a dumpster. Maybe one day I’ll have the guts to throw in my TV.
9 thoughts on “Of Love, Loss and Storage”
So true, so true….you hit the nail on the head!
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Thanks for that.
Your guilty TV pleasures sound mild to me! No; I’m not watching porn or raw nonstop violence, but I can’t stop catching up with Basketball Wives, the Real Housewives of Atlanta, and yes, Love and Hiphop. ☺️. LOL! “Bless me father for I have sinned….”
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Very thoughtful. I had never looked at those shows in that way before. One of my favorite reality shows was Clean Sweep, in which a professional organizer helped families whittle down their stuff. He was very respectful of the sentimental reasons why people kept stuff, but would reframe it (literally and figuratively) to package the belongings in a way that honored the memory (“If this is your beloved, deceased aunt’s dress you’re keeping, why is it crumbled on the floor in the back of your closet?” ).
You’re right Connie. I liked that show too and I learned a lot from it. Since I moved recently I set up boxes for Sell, Donate, Keep & Emotional Ambivalence.Thanks for the reminder and your input.
I’m compelled to comment on the first paragraph because it sent me a-howling over here in Silver Spring. My favorite line was “Bring It” or as I like to call it, “Why Are We Teaching Our Girls To Be Strippers”
I often feel that in order to move forward in life and to grow that I am constantly challenged with letting go of one thing in order to grab hold of something else. It’s important to move forward but it’s also important to fully acknowledge the loss and sadness we experience in the process.
Keep on keepin on and keep on writing!
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You wanted me to give you a little feedback, so take what you want from this and leave the rest.
I loved both posts–the first on your enjoyment of trash tv (we all have our guilty pleasures) and the second on those shows where people grant themselves permission to buy, sell and throw away other people’s possessions. You did a great job of identifying from those ‘storage’ shows the most troubling elements that should make us all question how we find the act of rifling through people’s stored belongings entertainment. and I found myself emotionally responding to what and how you made your argument. Probably for that reason when I finished the piece I felt compelled to go back to the beginning in search of a similar emotional connection. I laughed for sure, but I wanted more from the first entry. My sense is that trash tv works in general because it evokes in us a range of feelings whose purpose is to connect us to…something. memories? aspirations? belief systems and values? Not sure. But because I so liked the second post, it made me want you to do a deeper exploration (cuz you are soooo good at it!) with the topic in the first paragraph, as that will or might make a stronger connection between the two.
Hope that’s helpful. Talk soon.
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Yes you’re right some of these programs just don’t make sense.