I’ve been more than intrigued with the A&E reality series “Storage Wars” for several months now. We record it almost daily and, for some reason, I find it extremely entertaining watching people look for treasures in other people’s old piles of garbage. The premise is simple; people rent storage lockers and then stop paying for them. After a while, they become the property of the storage facility who then auctions them off to make up their back rent. The kicker is, the people bidding at the auction only get to look at the contents of the storage locker for 5 min from the door. They can’t go inside so they have very little idea on what they are bidding. That is what makes it a gamble, that is what makes it interesting.
The TV show, of course, often shows antiques hidden in dresser drawers and duffel bags full of gold that were purchased for roughly $27. Only now can I imagine the footage they must have of tomato stained Tupperware and soiled bed sheets that never made it past the cutting room floor. Here is how I know.
A few weeks ago a co-worker mentioned that he too was a huge fan of “Storage Wars”. He further went on to tell me about a few storage auctions that were happening locally, and he wanted to give it a shot. Well, you don’t have to ask me twice, I’m in. We convince one other buddy to join us, scheduled some time off of work, and then just sat back and daydreamed about the untold treasures that we would find.
I mean really, we could find anything in a locker. Maybe we pick up a small locker for $100 bill and find a first edition Bowcaster signed by Peter Mayhew himself. Maybe we bid on a unit that has a hidden crate of vinyl including all 4 KISS solo albums. Maybe we catch a little glint of light off a small box in the back of the unit only to later find that it is a gen-u-ine 1982 “A-Team” lunch box, mint-condish. I pity the fool that didn’t bid on that unit. Ahhh, and then the guns. I was certain that every unit for auction would have no less than four, high-dollar, high-powered rifles and handguns. I live in the West for Pete’s sake, everyone has guns out here. If not, worst case, I would at least find some cool electronics, a bag full of collectable coins, and a pair of 4 wheelers hidden under a tarp in the back. It was going to be good. We were going for the “Wow factor”. Plus, in a perfect world, nobody would show up and we could walk away with the entire lot of lockers for less than a five-bill. Come on, it was a daydream, why limit yourself?
Now for reality. We take off from work with plenty of time to get there early. As we are standing by the gate waiting for the auction to start, people begin to assemble. To say that we were out of place in this crowd is the understatement of the century. Hmm..how do I say this? The standard storage auction demographic in this town is a little on the white trashy side. Ok, that too is an understatement. Let me explain it this way; of the 50 or so people that showed up, we counted 8 people in full on camo, 4 mullets, 5 people were wearing stone washed jean jackets from 1983, several sets of bib overalls, Carhartt jackets galore, and some moon boots even though there wasn’t any snow. We guessed that 80% of the clothing that people were wearing was indeed salvaged from an abandoned locker. Locker? Dumpster?... one of the two. Plus, everyone was filthy, disheveled, and smoking. Yup, all of them were smoking. You’re not getting me here, I’m saying all of them, not some of them, and not most of them…all of them were smoking. I thought that was statistically impossible.
On to the lockers. The first locker door opened and 50 people dove to the door. Not a one of them considered standing in line and taking turns. What a concept. When I finally shoved my way to the front, what did I find? Filth. Absolute filth. I’m not talking about people’s random clutter or junk, I’m saying literal garbage falling out of bags, dirty diapers, broken toys, and what looked like volcanic ash covering it all…and we don’t have volcanoes here. Who pays to store garbage? Pass. On to the next. Boxes of files that were obviously medical records. Nothing else. Pass. On to the last one. GARBAGE. More garbage?!?! Locker sold for $5 and had nothing but garbage again. I think the guy that bought it did so for the broom that was on the floor.
So we had a bad day. I still wanted those KISS albums so we decided to try again. This time we traveled 45 min. to a more rural set of units on a Saturday. I will spare you the long story but you can multiply the people by 2 the dogs by 10 and switch out some of the cigs for stogies. Add in Dog the bounty hunter, a 6 year old that was a dead ringer for Rocky Dennis, and about 20 toothless men in their late 80’s wearing plaid and swearing up a storm and you will have a feel for the crowd. As for the units, of the 8 advertised, only 3 were actually auctioned, and that was too many. Quality-wise, the only difference between this auction and the last was the smell. If you cut the cig smoke with rotten feces and then add mouse crap to the filth in the units, you get the full rural effect.
Needless to say, I didn’t buy or even bid, but surprisingly, others did and spent quite a bit for that matter. I don’t know why, maybe it was the long drive out there, maybe they have a bedbug fetish, but it was worthless to me. I guess in California you get units like they show on TV, or maybe they find something in 1% of them and that is all you see, either way, I’m done with this venture as are my buddies. I still can’t get that smell out of my nostrils.
I know I built it up way too much, but wow, what a mountain trash bonanza. The only redeeming quality of this entire experience was the chance to observe and belittle a crowd of freaks with my pals. Now that I think about it, that alone has to be worth at least one star.