Strange Americana as Seen from Amtrak Trains.

 Reverting to the scenery-by-Amtrak theme again, there’s something else you’ll begin to notice as you travel around the country on the train: self-storage facilities. They’re a relatively recent phenomenon and they’re everywhere … incontrovertible evidence that Americans have too much stuff.

For quite a few years, my advertising agency in Honolulu occupied some office space in a building owned by the Honolulu Mini-Storage Company. The building owner, John McClellan, told me that people would show up with used furniture, sets of dishes, toys belonging to children already graduated from college, stuffed animals, musical instruments, trunks and boxes full of odds and ends, you-name-it. In other words … stuff!

They would pack it all into one or his large lockers, lock it up, and pay the storage fees for months and often for years. Then, more often than not, the checks would stop coming, or the credit card would be cancelled. So John would let a dozen or so of these cases accumulate, then, about twice a year, he’d have a big sale and get rid of most of it. Whatever was left over, he’d donate to Goodwill, probably (and legitimately) taking a tax deduction.
In fact, this is now a burgeoning industry, with several big companies pre-fabricating self-storage units. All you have to do is order them, put ’em up, run a couple of ads in the local paper, and before long the pickup trucks and SUV’s full of crap will start to arrive.

If you want to hear a wonderful rant about this strange proclivity that must certainly be uniquely American, CLICK HERE for a monologue by the late, and very great, George Carlin. 

And the next time you take one of Amtrak’s long-distance trains, sit back, relax, and keep your eyes peeled for the self-storage facilities. I promise: you’ll be amazed!