Aretha Franklin's trash

By Carol / November 28, 2011 /

Recently an abandoned storage unit went up for auction. Rummaging through the contents, the buyer found dozens of hats, capes and dresses all once owned by none other than music legend Aretha Franklin.

The Queen of Soul is reported to have said she left the items in the storage locker years ago because she no longer wanted them.

I’m fascinated by abandoned storage units, my interest fueled by such shows as Storage Wars and Auction Hunters. It’s not so much what storage unit buyers find in the units that hooks me – though who wouldn’t want to pay a couple of hundred dollars for a unit only to discover that it contains tens of thousands of dollars worth of merchandise? Rather the puzzle for me lies in why some people rent the units in the first place and why others go on to abandon them.

Why would someone pay to store what they don’t want – As Aretha did? Why would she not just give it all to a charity? Or give it to a theatre group for their costume shop? Even if we have plenty of money, which Aretha apparently does, is it a reasonable use of money to pay to keep what we don’t want?

Why would someone abandon possessions they can’t help but know are valuable and which they could easily sell for considerable cash? Setting aside those who die or are mentally ill, there are still those who simply abandon units containing brand new, still-in-the-packing vending machines, cars, motorcycles, and snow mobiles. No one would mistake any of these for having no monetary value.

There is something very strange about our societal fascination with keeping things, even though we don’t need them and may not even want them. We over buy and then we over keep. There are no doubt hundreds of stories there. I, for one, would love to hear them.

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