Wednesday, November 12, 2014

The Garage Mirage

I have noticed a suburban trend whereby homeowners with attached, enclosed garages have forgotten that it is possible to actually park their cars in them. All over America, perfectly functional vehicle storage areas have been repurposed to protect structurally-compromised couches and optimistically-procured exercise equipment. Meanwhile, the homeowner’s second largest investment sits outside collecting hail-damage and bird feces.

We have a neighbor whose late-model vehicle has never experienced the luxury of weathering a storm indoors because their garage is full of items whose aggregate value probably would not even cover the cost of a few tanks of gas. They are literally telling the world that keeping a perpetually-immobile lawn tractor and a couple of defective birdcages dry is more important than protecting their only mode of transportation from preventable harm.

I realize that I am probably steeping on a few toes and there are many people I love and admire who will read this while resting in the yard-sale papasan chair that displaced their Lexus, but this epidemic must be stopped before it is too late.

I imagine, like most epidemics, it begins small. Having a dust-covered treadmill in your guest room has gotten embarrassing and who wants to haul three cardboard boxes of outdated keepsakes into the attic. So, you simply stack a few items in the corner of the garage and don’t pull in so far. Next, you add a few decommissioned children’s toys and a plastic tub of outdated winter clothes you intend to include in a perpetually forthcoming “garage sale.” Before you know it, two years have passed and you would rather unload groceries in the pouring rain than make a judgment call on the wobbly nightstand you received when Aunt Sally “went to be with Jesus.”

If this phenomenon becomes any more deeply ingrained in our culture, the entire real estate industry will be faced with rebranded residential homes. Instead of “fully-enclosed 2 car garage” you will see ads that tout “outward-facing ground-level storage bay with retractable access door” or “indoor rummage-sale staging area.” Prospective buyers will stroll through houses and wonder aloud if their collection of flood-damaged ottomans will fit in “that big room with the oil stains.”

I have heard all of the arguments in favor of garage outsourcing. The house doesn’t have enough storage space. We are just waiting until we can afford a storage unit. It would be easier for someone to steal my old tape deck than my Nissan. In my opinion, there a very few legitimate reasons to place a $20,000 sedan outside so that you can protect future estate-sale fodder from the adverse effects of inclement weather.

Here are acceptable scenarios for parking your car outside when you have a perfectly functional garage:

  • Gam-gam’s iron lung requires an emergency generator whose switch housing must be placed away from precipitation.

  • You discovered a lost Rembrandt in your uncle’s attic and need a place to store it until Sotheby’s can arrange for a pickup.

  • You told your son that his Night Ranger tribute band could rehearse at your house this week because the bassist’s girlfriend “needed some space.”

  • You have taken possession of an adolescent Bengal tiger and wish to hide its existence from your neighbors but don’t trust it enough to leave it in the living room with your beloved Pekingese “Reginald Cuddleford” while you are at work.

  • You drive a Pontic Grand Am.

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