Columns

2003.12.03 Get me out of storage

on . Posted in By The Way

By DAVID GREEN

I felt as though I was part of a movie Friday morning, but it was the sort of movie you would want to watch from the comfort of your living room.

We were in Brooklyn, N.Y., last weekend for a brief visit to the big city. My wife really wanted to spend Thanksgiving with one of her sisters, so we headed east Wednesday.

We reached the George Washington Bridge in 10 hours, then skirted along the edge of Manhattan, dove under the East River through the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel, and made our way on to Linda’s apartment near Coney Island.

Thanksgiving Day was good. We shopped in a Chinese supermarket that included several tanks of live fish. We stopped in a Russian grocery and walked out with “raisin sausage” and kefir. 86th Street was busy with shoppers. Thanksgiving probably wasn’t a traditional holiday for most of them.

The next morning, while the others showered and dressed, I agreed to drive Linda to her storage unit so she could bring her Christmas tree home.

Linda directed me across town a few blocks to a large building with a sign that read “Stop and Stor.” OK, but where are the storage units?

We turned in the drive and faced a pair of iron gates and a crossing arm like at a railroad intersection. Linda gave me the code to punch into a keypad and the gates began to part. The arm rose and we proceeded past an enormous multi-story building on the right and a smaller two-story structure to the left. This was just the beginning.

We drove on and on alongside rows of two-story buildings with roads turning off to the side every so often toward other buildings. Finally I was told to turn left down a road that led between rows of buildings. Occasionally a drive would appear that led back into the guts of the place for 30 or 40 feet.

We turned right, then left, then right, to where I backed up into a drive that led to Linda’s building. There were roll-down doors everywhere—some were vehicle size, others were just big enough for a person could walk through, if the roll-down metal door were open. Hmmm, the door to Linda’s unit was already open. There were no other cars around, but her building was ready for visitors.

We walked in and climbed the stairs to the second floor. Here we entered a labyrinth of cold, metal clad hallways. Floors, walls, doors—everything was shiny metal and we echoed as we walked. We made a left, then another and another and finally a right to Linda’s door.

I looked around while she got out her key and worked the lock. It was simple enough. Iron beams were exposed along the ceiling. Dozens of small rooms had been constructed inside. It looked plenty secure, but it also looked a little ominous.

I've probably watched too many movies. The door was already opened. There was somebody already in this building, somewhere down one of these cold, lonely hallways. What were they waiting for—some sucker from the Midwest whose decomposing body would be found days later in one of these dozens and dozens of little metal rooms?

So there wasn’t really anybody else up there, at least no one we ever saw. Linda wasn’t bothered by the open door. In fact, she saw it as a gift—one less lock to mess with.

We removed the plastic bin containing the body of her...containing her artificial Christmas tree. We carried it down the stairs to the car and drove back out through the alleyways and through another pair of iron gates.

Brooklyn, with its 2.3 million people, is just a part of New York City. If it were a city on its own, it would rank as the country’s fourth largest. It’s said that one out of seven American citizens can trace their family history through the streets of Brooklyn, and it’s likely my ancestors walked around here when they first reached the United States.

Now, a century and a half later, all of Morenci could store its belongings in the Stop and Stor on Shore Parkway, the one overlooking Gravesend Bay. Once Morenci moved in, there would still be room for Fayette and Lyons and Seneca....and even that missing shipment of the letter "e."

    – Dec. 3, 2003 

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