Tuesday, November 15, 2005

A Closet Closet Cleaner

I’ve decided to wait a couple of days before I start on any of the doors for the kitchen. It will be nice to just take a break for a few days. Besides, I have sneaking suspicion that in a few days a new project will take precedence over the kitchen doors. What I do need to do, though is clean out the closet in the kitchen that is under the back stairs. This became a depository for non-kitchen things when I first moved in and most are still there.

It is an odd assortment of junk in there. You know how it is when you first move in to a house and you are sort of guessing that one room will be your bedroom and another will be the living room, and so on. Well, the rooms in this house were so ill-defined it was hard to figure out exactly where to put stuff. The appraiser called it a 9 bedroom home because he wasn’t sure what all the rooms were. Any room that didn’t look like a kitchen, bath or living room he called a bedroom.

As I was moving stuff in there were a few boxes of things that had no real home and so they ended up in one of 2 closets under the front and back stairs. There boxes of books and knick-knacks. There is a box with a few cameras and binoculars. There is a box of photos. Stuff like that. All of them have some sort of home now so it is just a matter of putting them in their new home. The hardest one to get rid of is going to be a box of 80s porno magazines. They’re not mine, I swear, and if they were I wouldn’t be telling you about it. What happened was this.

Behind my house is the 1920s Mission Revival garage building. It has 2 apartments upstairs and 6 1-car garages downstairs. When I bought the property 5 of the garages were rented out. One of the renters never paid me rent and I could not get a hold of them. The rent was $50 a month and it was really more of a hassle to try and locate the person and get the $50 than it was to deal with what ever was in there and try and kick them out. I kept hoping the problem would somehow resolve itself but eventually push came to shove and I had to deal with it. At the time I cut the lock they were about a year and a half behind in rent and I was pretty sure I would never hear from them again so I cut I did.

The garages were built for Model Ts so it is only about 10-feet wide and goes back maybe 16-feet. I opened the doors and it was packed with junk. And I do mean packed with junk. It was filled floor to ceiling, wall to wall with what looked like construction debris. I was beginning to see why they stopped paying rent. I spent a few hours that first day just pulling out some stuff and trying to find any kind of name or address. A lot of the stuff in there was marked with names of stores in the local mall. Boxes of wiring and parts of fixtures labeled “Old Navy”. A part of some broken display labeled “Kay’s Jewelers”. There was also 2 life sized, sort of 3D Victoria’s Secret posters. Remember the thick plastic cards with an image and as you moved the angle that you viewed it the image would move? That is what these were except they were scantly clad models and has you moved pass the poster the model moved as well. They were each about 3X6-feet. They were pretty cool and I sold one on Ebay for $250. Anyway on the back of one was a message that said, “Hold for Jim Smith” (made up the name for the purpose of the blog). Anyway, I had a name.

I locked the shed back up and started trying to find Jim Smith. I found one in the phone book and called. It was Jim’s father. Apparently Jim Jr. was in trouble with the law and was on the run. Jim Sr. was not to thrilled with his son and said he wanted nothing to do with the junk. Great, I was really hoping someone would want to deal with this. At this point I didn’t even care about the back rent I just wanted it gone. A few hours later I got a call from Jim’s sister. She said she knew where Jim was and asked me if I could wait a few days while she tried to get a hold of him. I had nothing to lose so I said OK.

The next day Jim called me. He was asking a lot of questions about the stuff and it sort of sounded like he didn’t really know what was in the garage. He did say he used to be a maintenance guy at the mall but I think I may have lead him on. He finally asked me where the garage was and I started to get suspicious. He tried to convince me that his Ex-Wife had put all of his stuff in the garage when they separated and stopped paying rent when he went on the run. I really didn’t want some low-life with the cops after him coming to my house so I made a deal with him. I said if you want your stuff you need to pay me $500 back rent plus a $500 deposit. He could mail it to my PO Box. After that I’ll tell you where the garage is and you will have one week to empty the garage. If the garage is empty after the week you’ll get your deposit back otherwise I’ll haul it to the dump and take the cost out of the deposit. I never heard from Jim again.

After about a week I started digging in the garage again. It was just so much junk. I eventually threw about half of it away and then had the Mother of all Garage sales for the rest. You know what they say, one man’s junk is another man’s treasure. I actually made some good money of the garage sale and with the EBay Victoria’s Secret poster sale I made back a lot of the lost rent money.

In the very center of the garage was a pallet with neatly stack boxes of very personal belongings. There were school transcripts, and bank records, and several boxes of books. There were also boxes of little trinkets one would collect while on vacation. This person had been to Japan, Hong Kong, and Mexico. The latest bank statement was over 10 years old and the address was in San Francisco. I tried to contact the person with no luck. School transcripts and bank records went to the dump and the vacation items I sold at the garage sale.

The last of the items to get rid of were the 6 boxes of books. There was nothing too spectacular from what I could tell but I didn’t go through all of the boxes. I thought I might be able to get a better price at the used book store I frequent than at the garage sale so I held on to them. A few days after the garage sale I loaded them all up in the back of the truck and was just about to drive down to the book store. I then got the feeling that I should go through the boxes before I take them down. You just never know what is at the bottom of a box. There could be something of value. So I’m out in front of my house in the back of my pick up and I started to go through the boxes. Wouldn’t you know it, in one of the boxes under an innocent layer of paperbacks was a collection of 20 or 30 porno magazines. Most are Penthouse and Playboy from the early 80s. Lots of big hair and pastels. Others I’ve never even heard of before and a few were Japanese. I was so glad I looked in there. Could you imagine if I hadn’t found them and the woman down at the book store had. I would have never been able to show my face in there again. The whole thing could have been very embarrassing.

So now I really need to get rid of them. Maybe I can throw a few away every week along with the other garbage. I really wouldn't want my tenants to find several porno mags in the garbage every week for months on end, though. I could also make a dump run and make sure they aren’t going to go flying around as I throw them in the pile. This is a small town. Could you imagine if I threw the box in the dump and all the porno went flying. You never know who you’re going to run in to at the dump. What ever I do with them it is time for them to be removed from the kitchen closet - ASAP. I eat in that room now!

Besides, they’re so 80s!


Neil said...

Isn't there a band called "Porno for Pyros?" Clearly the members of this band had the same dilemma at some point. You could have a bonfire!

Kitchen looks great, BTW. How about a photographic review of the room!

Anonymous said...

Those 80's playboy mags would probably fetch you a pretty penny over on ebay.

Kristin said...

Great story! Does eBay let you sell '80s porn mags? Who knows? There might be a market for this kind of think. There's some freaky-deakies on eBay. :)

kris said...

What a great story! Before we bought our house, we were caretakers of a 26-unit apartment building. With some regularity we had to go through abandoned storage lockers. Sometimes it was lucrative, sometimes it was entertaining, sometimes just a little creepy :-)

amanda said...

Three words-
contractor trash bags
You can hide anything in them, including paneling from your basement walls.
Good luck.

Anonymous said...

How about a bonfire/weennie roast?