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April 24, 2013

Goodbye, Frederick! Itís Been Good to Know Ya!

Tom McLaughlin

Middletown, Maryland – I landed at Dulles and took the taxi to my dear friend’s house on Braddock Heights determined to close out my life in Frederick County. Five years ago, when I left, I had planned only to live in Malaysian Borneo for one year. However, life happens.


I had placed most of my belongings in storage. I had two units in Frederick and two in Ocean City. I had lived in the resort prior to my departure spending three years taking care of mom and dad through the end times.


My plan was to eventually return to my rented, paid-for house in Middletown and start a second retirement. I kept my 1997 Toyota Rav 4 also in storage for the simple reason that it was paid for. I know everybody knows the joys of a paid for car.


However, the storage unit fees had exceeded the value of the contents. Five hundred dollars a month for five years was a waste of money and it was time to empty them out.


I started with the units in Frederick. Heavy with jet lag, I climbed the two flights of stairs and carried down winter clothes not needed for the tropics. Tired, I eventually just dropped the boxes down to the ground. Surprisingly, they did not break. I filled the Rav 4 three times on trips to Goodwill. The books went to Wonder Books and Video for the paltry sum they paid. Keepsakes were mailed to my daughter in Montana. This took two days.


My next goal was to sell the Rav 4. For some inexplicable reason, I had an emotional attachment to the vehicle. I took very good care of it religiously changing the oil every three thousand mile and any other repairs it needed. Probably the biggest rip was the air filter where the guy comes out and shows you the part with dust on it. Of course I was a sucker every time and bought a new one. I was of the school that if another modicum of dust alighted on the device the car would explode.


My silly attachment to the vehicle was that I had raised two daughters and an unaccountable number of dogs and cats in it. We also had roamed the beaches of Assateague. I had plans to attach historic tags in a few years.


When I went to get the car I had to have the battery jumped. It has been sitting for fourteen months. The gentleman from the garage attached the cables and it started on the first turn of the key. I was not surprised because that’s what always happened, but the mechanics jaw dropped open in disbelief.


I asked if he knew anyone who wanted to buy. “How much? $1500. How many miles? 158, 000. I will take it!” I was stunned and grateful that very possible major hassle was over. He let me keep the car for the rest of the time.


I drove to Ocean City to tackle the next two units. I went through box by unaccountable box to see what I wanted. The “keep” pile was small when I got done but it took a long time. I still had many items from my deceased parents.


I would pick up a possession of theirs and look at it. My mind would wonder to all the associations it held. The next thing I knew it was 20 or 30 minutes later. Sometimes longer. I haven’t a clue where the time went as I thought it was only a few minutes. That was what took so much time.


The next problem was how to get rid of the stuff. I had no place for a yard sale. I asked around for people who purchase these units for the E-bay world. No luck. Then a flash struck me. Would the owners of the complex sell my stuff at their next auction? This idea surfaced from the television program “Storage Wars.” After some conversation and my visions of a vast fortune prompted by the call of yippee! I signed the papers. Problem solved. I expected around $2,000 and got $400. Don’t blame everything you see on television.


I plan to visit the states but I will now use my daughter’s ranch as a base and fly my youngest daughter, who lives in Frederick, out when we come to visit. It will be easier to fly into Seattle and then to Billings and then a five hour ride to the ranch. Besides, I now have my first granddaughter living there.


…Life is good. . . . .


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