Thursday, April 14, 2005

An Omen

I'd like to take a moment to talk with you about historical trends. I have a deep social insight to share. I'm going to tell you about the first sign that a society has reached its peak, the point at which everything is as good as it's going to get and it's all downhill from there on out. Now, when I tell you what the sign is, you're going to wonder what good this information does you. To be honest, this information does you no good at all. You can't stop a society's downfall--no one can. But at least you'll know what's going on, right?

Just store it!So what is the omen? Self-storage facilities. Yes, that's right. Those lovely businesses that consist of nothing but big empty buildings separated into small, medium, and large units with roll-up doors. Self-storage is the first and most reliable sign that a society is on its way out. To clarify, the mere existence of self-storage is not itself the omen. There are some valid, non-civilization-crumbling uses for self-storage. However, the end is on its way when a self-storage industry reaches a certain size, driven by the mindset "keep it, you know, just in case" becoming common in a culture, instead of "throw it out, it's junk" or "give it to someone who needs it more and might actually use it."

One of the five self-storage businesses that I pass during the last 8-mile stretch of my commute lures in unsuspecting civilization-destroyers with the question: "need to clear the clutter?" When a society is fresh, young, and growing, the answer to that question may be: "Yes, I do now that you mention it... I guess I'll give whatever is useful to charity, and throw the rest out." However, when a society is headed out, the answer becomes "Oh, you are so right, I do! I'll have to give that self-storage place a call--oooh! Free truck with move-in!" See the difference?

To be continued...

Read part 2
Categories: Culture


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