My mother is a pack rat. So am I. A pack rat is someone who has great difficulty throwing things away. Over the years, if you’re a pack rat, your life becomes more and more cluttered with stuff.

This is subtly different from actual obsessive-compulsive disorder. OCD sufferers tend to save specific things (such as stray cats or old newspapers), and continue far past the point where there’s a health or fire hazard. Pack rats are just burdened with accumulations of assorted stuff.

Six years ago, when I was laid off, I moved in with Mom. We didn’t know if it was temporary, so we put a bunch of stuff in a storage locker a couple of miles down the road. By now, I’ve adjusted nicely to a lifestyle that doesn’t require paying rent, and Mom is getting to the age where having someone around the house is highly desirable. It’s not a perfect living arrangement, but it makes sense.

Only … there’s this honkin’ big storage locker full of stuff, for which I am paying rent. And the rent keeps going up. Shurgard was bought out by Public Storage, but their policy of exhorbitant rate hikes continues unabated. These weasels jack the rent up by about 10% a year, which is flat-out inflationary. Their letters alerting you to the hikes always claim increased costs and improved services — but I’ll tell you: It’s a big bare building. There’s no staff to speak of. There are no services. Their costs are fixed. It’s all pure profit.

They’re just rakin’ it in because they can. Because once you’ve put all your stuff in storage, figuring out how to get rid of it is even harder than if you’d been sensible to begin with. It’s easier to let them charge your credit card every month, and worry about it next spring.

I think this may be the summer when I finally take care of the stuff. I may write about it here from time to time — some of the decisions are bound to be agonizing. Like, all those books I bought 20 years ago, that I know I’ll never read again … more later about books.

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