We have been to so many “open houses” that we can’t remember whether the home we liked had a large backyard, but what we know for sure is Canadians collect tons of junk.
Some garages are designed so that you can park your car and walk through a few steps into your home. This entrance is handy, especially when it is winter and you don’t want to go out and then walk the path to the front door in the blistering cold.
Most of the garages are built for one vehicle, but I noticed that no one parks their car inside but leaves it out in front of the driveway, beside the wife’s humungous SUV. Unless of course you are Jerry Seinfeld, the American stand-up comic who loves cars and has built a three-storey garage in an apartment complex to house his car collection.
Large gas-guzzling monsters
While on my way to Woodstock, a tiny town with a population of 50,000, I saw huge farms growing Alfalfa, which is considered a ‘super food’ and a medicinal herb, and at one farm, I caught a glimpse of a large garage, and in it were parked beautifully maintained vintage cars.
I was driving to this tiny town not because it is famous for “peace and music” but because Dupinder, my driving instructor, suggested that we take the test there, “…because uncle, there would be no traffic and you won’t get stressed out.”
I have driven in the chaos of Bangalore, India, and should not necessarily be stressed out, but driving on the roads here in Canada requires some road rules, which is quite unnerving.
The instructor was right; there was hardly any traffic even at the peak hour, in this tiny place, and the 10-minute test drive took me around the block, where I did the three-point turn perfectly.
Most Canadians drive huge SUVs not to go off track into the dense woods but to pick up their kids from school or, for a short run, to the local Costco to pick up tons of groceries.
These large gas-guzzling monsters are usually driven by women, and the sleeker, foreign-made sedans such as Beemers or Audis are driven by men.
“…and this is the garage,” the realtor would say and open the door with a flourish, only to gasp and giggle; there was no way any car would have fitted in this place, filled up to the ceiling with the detritus of suburban living.
There was a sneaker collection of the kid of the house, which must have been worth a fortune; a couple of guitars, a lawnmower, a canoe, boxes and boxes of stuff from the past, such as children’s illustrated books, a workbench with gazillions of home hardware stuff, a gem grinding and polishing machine….
People from the East always complain that the West is a throwaway society, and that is why there is so much man-made pollution on this planet, but no one knows the true story until today as this fearless writer breaks the story of the secret junk-hoarding Canadians.
It is true that some things are better thrown away than repaired because it costs as much as buying a new device, but why on earth would anyone keep stuff that they do not use.
Sometimes, when spring is in the air, Canadians bring out their barbecues and smoke and charcoal steaks to celebrate the weather, and it is then they decide to get rid of their garbage. Hand-printed signs are hammered onto trees advertising the fact there is a garage sale on Sunday from 8am to 3pm and that “everything must go.”
Canadians go to such sales, buy up the stuff from their neighbours and bring it home and dump it in their garages. When things get unmanageable, they go to storage warehouses, buy space, and store their junk there.
There is a whole TV series on this phenomenon called Storage Wars, and every week two teams try to beat each other in finding the best junk in the repossessed storage units.
Mahmood Saberi is a storyteller and blogger based in Bengaluru, India. Twitter: @mahmood_saberi