Al Batt: Most garages are simply large junk drawers

Published 10:06 pm Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Tales From Exit 22 by Al Batt

He said that the next time I was in the neighborhood, I should stop in.

I was in the neighborhood, so I stopped in.

Email newsletter signup

He had a critter he wanted to show me.

“It’s behind the garage,” he said, after we’d exchanged pleasantries.

We walked through the garage to find the critter.

“What the heck is that?” he asked.

It was a lovely crab spider. She was a beautiful yellow in color. The way she held her legs gave her a crab-like appearance.

Don’t be that way, spider haters. I can hear your “ewwwws!” from here. Read “Charlotte’s Web” again. We need to be nice to spiders. An entomological study found spiders in 100 percent of North Carolina homes, in 68 percent of the bathrooms and in more than 75 percent of the bedrooms. Biologists have determined that spiders consume about 10 percent of their body weight in food per day. The journal “The Science of Nature” published a paper saying that the world’s spiders consume 400 to 800 million tons of prey in a year. That means that spiders eat as much meat as 7 billion humans who consume about 400 million tons of meat and fish each year. The total biomass of all adult humans is estimated to be 287 million tons. If we add another 70 million tons to cover the kids, it’s still not equal to the total amount of food eaten by spiders in a year. Spiders could eat all of us and still be hungry.

The beauty of the crab spider took my breath away. So had the cleanliness of the man’s garage. You could eat off the floor of his garage if you’re the kind that eats off the floors of garages.

I should have expected it. He didn’t say, “Excuse the mess,” before we entered the garage.

There was a place for everything and everything was in its place. I don’t know how he could find anything if he never lost anything.

There are multimillion-dollar businesses that started in garages. They’d need to be organized, but most garages are rumpled at best.

The last time my garage was that clean was when it was just built. The closest it’s come since would have been when it was spiffed up for a graduation party.

A man told me that he had to clean his two-car garage so he could get one car into it.

A woman told me that her parents had 14 kids, one car and no garage. They had so many kids that her mother had run out of names to call her father.

A fellow called me and asked how to get a spatzie out of his garage. The word for sparrow in German is spatz. German immigrants used that word to describe house sparrows and it eventually became corrupted to spatzie. I told the caller to give the spatzie time. He did. It left the garage. This is a bit of a reach for a column on a garage, but I like birds.

I once lived in Minneapolis. I had no garage for my car. What I had was a block heater that was an optimistic device that warmed an engine to increase the chances that it would start. I didn’t have an electrical cord long enough to make use of it. They had odd-even parking in the neighborhood. Also called calendar parking, the system required that vehicles be parked only on the side of the street with even-numbered addresses on even-numbered days of certain months — and vice versa. Or something like that.

I visited my parents one weekend, riding home with a friend. A storm hit while I was gone. My car was towed. It was parked odd on an even or even on an odd. I think they towed it to Kalamazoo, Michigan. The towing and storage costs far exceeded the value of my car. No surprise. Each time I filled my car with gas, I doubled its value. I paid the bill for towing and storage. I could have built a garage for what it cost to free my car.

If you know any people, and I’ll bet you do, you know they aren’t good at keeping their garages impeccable. We pile things in garages. We pile them high as an expression of hopelessness.

Garages are the junk drawers of the building set.

When it comes time to clean your garage, you’ll soon realize that you have more than you thought you did. Be thankful for that and leave room for spiders.

Al Batt’s columns appear every Wednesday and Sunday.