I don’t know most of my neighbors, but I’ve lived enough out-of-control days to be a bit concerned when the lives I see just down the street appear to be spiraling into uselessness.
This is the story of my neighbor who collects storage buildings. Here’s a little about this family followed by the lessons I think we can learn from them.
The Family On The Corner
They live up the road for us in a three-section manufactured house (the housing-industry term for a mobile home) on just over an acre of property. It’s a corner lot visible to everyone in their neighborhood and everyone passing on the road.
We immediately noticed the home when it was installed because it is at least twice the size of any other house in the area. Then we noticed that when the moving truck backed up to the front door, it stayed there — in the same position — for over a month. How much does a month-long U-Haul rental cost?
Now it’s several years later, and their property is littered with storage buildings. One is a simple metal shed. Four or five are nice wooden structures with porches and windows. They installed an electric poll and meter box at the back of the property near these nicer buildings, but they never put in the meter nor a power line to the pole.
When they leave the door open on a building, boxes and piles of nothing in particular are visible inside each one. Nothing is organized, so nothing could ever be located. That blows my original theory that they might run a salvage or resale business of some kind.
The latest building addition is a bright blue one placed in their front yard up on blocks to make it level. It’s the largest one so far. Cinder blocks are stacked up to the door to form crude steps.
When I saw one of the women from the house entering this new building a couple of weeks ago, I saw a washer and dryer inside. There’s no electrical connection to the building, however. It’s near their water well, but there’s no water pipe going into the building either.
There is also a camper trailer and the trailer portion of an 18-wheeler permanently installed on the property.
Amazingly, the riding lawnmower sits outside like mine does.
What Can We Learn?
This is a true story, and the only conclusion I can reach is that this family lives a life out of control. How could I reach any other conclusion?
I could be wrong, but the life I observe up the road serves as an example that teaches me at least five important life lessons. Here they are:
1. Accurately assess your needs. Some of their buildings aren’t completely full, and I haven’t actually seen anything inside that trailer in months. They have a mess, but they have more space than they need. Do you?
2. Clean up what’s yours. They also have piles of dirt and rock all over their property from digging into or building up their land to make it level for each building. In addition, they accepted a property with an old road running through it and some other flaws, and they have never cleaned up any of them.
3. Finish what you start. Why would they pay to put up a utility pole and then never connect it to the any utility? Leaving things half done is costly, wasteful and calls your judgment into question.
4. Be kind to one another. If they’re outside, the family with the storage building graveyard up the road from me always waves, and we wave at them. They’re strange — like the couple that rarely mows their yard (that’s us) and the family with too many security lights (that’s the one across the street from us) — but they seem like nice people. Even those with lives out of control can be nice, can’t they?
5. Mind your own business. I really feel a bit guilty writing hundreds of words about a family I don’t know, and I’m wondering if minding my own business might be a good course of action for me. They may not be good at minding their business, but the family that collects storage buildings hasn’t shown any interest in my business.
I wonder, however, if this family up the road from me is living the kind of simple, deliberate life they could be enjoying.
Still, I don’t want to make any value judgments. I just wonder if there is a better way for them. I’ve found a path that gives me some peace and comfort, and I wish everyone could.
I’ll probably never know how things are really going for the family up the road with the storage building farm because I don’t plan to stop and talk to them. I don’t imagine they want me to.
Based on the story I’ve told you about the family up the road, what do you think of them? Does their life teach any kind of lesson to you? Does mine?
Gip Plaster is a web content writer. Previously a journalist, online bookseller and even a corporate advertising guy, Gip now specialize in writing high-quality content for websites — his and other people’s. Visit Gip’s Front Yard (www.gipsfrontyard.com) too.