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A virtually empty garage may be un-American by today’s standards

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POSTED May 29, 2013 1:29 a.m.

I’m a prime candidate for the Homeland Security watch list.

And it’s all because of my garage.

It’s not what I have in it. It’s what I don’t have in it that may make the federal government question whether I’m a true American.

It isn’t loaded to the gills with stuff.

And, to make matters worse, I don’t even park my vehicle in it.

On Monday it took me all of two hours to clean the garage. I hadn’t done so in three years. Yet when I was through there was nothing up in the rafters except an extra piece of baseboard from the remodel. The floor was bare except for one portable rack of shelves, a wheelbarrow, a filing cabinet with bicycle parts in it, two bags of bark, a garden hose, and an old bicycle.

My “stuff” was on wooden shelves along one side of the garage in six large plastic containers. They represented what I had kept from the past 57 years and the containers weren’t even half full.

There’s no lawnmower and such because I have yards jammed with greenery and not grass. I prefer it that way. There is nothing relaxing about revving up a lawn mower once a week. If I’m going to work up a sweat in the yard it is going to be from digging a hole, weeding or trimming roses. I could never understand why most folks would have lawns when they never used them. I figure if I’m going to look at landscaping that it might as well be more varied than grass that requires me to spend a small fortune watering it and then destroy the tranquility you try to create with the noxious noise and odor of gas-powered lawnmowers and leaf blowers on a weekly basis.

What got me to thinking about the folly of a garage was a comment a friend made recently who had dropped by the house.

“You don’t have much stuff for a 57-year-old guy,” she said.

She said this after walking through my 980-square-foot house and wanting to know how I survived with just one bathroom. That’s easy. One person doesn’t need two bathrooms.

She couldn’t believe none of my closets had doors - or any rooms for that matter do either except for the bathroom. Why, she asked.

It was for obvious reasons. It is too easy to open a door, throw something in, and shut the door. Not having any doors forces you to put things away, not toss things on the closet floor in a hurry, and to not accumulate stuff you’re not going to ever use again.

Up until Monday, my garage underscored that point. While there wasn’t a lot of stuff in it, I got in the habit of just tossing things into it when I was through. It’s detached from the house and I park my vehicle in the carport so I may go in to the garage twice a week, if that.

Then she came to the conclusion I was a minimalist. I laughed.

I’m about as close to being a minimalist as Warren Buffett is to being a pauper.

A minimalist would have a bed - probably a futon - a few pieces of furniture that reflects a Spartan lifestyle in each room, and maybe a piece of art work or two hanging on the wall. It would look like a cavernous room in a museum of modern art with perhaps a tenth of the art pieces, if that.

“You’re weird,” she offered.

“No,” I replied. “I’m lucky.”

My parents raised three sons in a two-bedroom, one-bathroom house just slightly smaller than my house today. When my sister was born, they decided to buy a larger and older house. It wasn’t an easy decision. Even though it was the early 1960s and the economy was heating up, it was an act that required them to take on more debt.

I also know that given the modern conveniences, high tech gadgets, floor space and everything else I have today I’m living like a rich man compared to my grandparents not to mention 90 percent of the planet.

If you doubt that, go look in your garage.



This column is the opinion of executive editor, Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinion of The Bulletin or Morris Newspaper Corp. of CA.  He can be contacted at dwyatt@mantecabulletin.com or 209-249-3519.

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