Local moving has lulled you into a state of complacency: You roll up into the U-Haul place, flashing your wad of Lincolns like you own the place, hot bitches on either arm (or more likely, waiting in the car with the windows cracked), you plunk down your thirty bucks a day and you're off. But here's the thing: All those low prices you see on the sides of the moving trucks (the "29.95 a day!" bubbles emblazoned next to a dinosaur or a bee or whatever bizarre avatar the moving company has assigned your state) -- yeah, there are asterisks after those things.
The asterisk is the biggest son of a bitch in the Punctuation Kingdom. He's the coworker that talks shit behind your back and denies it to your face; he's the gag lottery ticket your asshole brother got you for your birthday; he's the waiter that assures you there's no problem with special orders, then pisses in your vegan minestrone (you kind of deserved that one, though). Asterisks should always be regarded with fear and revulsion, and exterminated with fire wherever found. If left unchecked, the asterisk's primary purpose is plowing your wallet right in its asshole (you know that little hole, down at the bottom of the billfold where the creases meet? Yep. That's what that is.)
A promise: You are going to feel weird next time you touch it.
The asterisk in this particular case reads: "Price for in-town move only." Somehow, that modest truck with the janky shifter and seat that smells like old action figures is magically transformed, upon crossing state lines, into a solid gold chariot driven on wheels of purest diamond, powered by the Ark of the Covenant, with a fuel tank three quarters full of the meaning of life (and make sure to refill it to that same level of nirvana before returning, or there will be a fee). For every one long-distance mile you plan on driving that run-down Ford with a metal box on the back, you can go ahead and shuffle the decimal point in that listed price one spot to the right.
If something seems like it kind of sucks upon first impression, my first reaction is to see if I can think up a clever workaround. There's just no better feeling in life than skirting a major expense by virtue of your wit alone, all while laughing at the suckers left burning in your wake. (Side note: Burning things in your wake is a pretty good feeling, too.) So when confronted with sticker shock at the U-Haul place, I simply scoffed, knocked some appliance pads on the ground, executed some ornate, baroque obscene gestures and went to find a better way.
"I don't even know what that means, sir, but I'm terribly offended by it!"
After some research, I settled on one of those portable storage container thingies that those assholes are always blocking the street with. I figured, Hey, I'm technically an adult with access to real, grown-up money -- I could be that asshole!
The idea behind moving with portable storage containers goes like this: You rent the unit like usual, the company drops it off and you load it up. Then you give them a call, they come pick it up and deliver it your new address. It's just like renting a U-Haul, but you don't have to wrestle a morbidly obese land-whale through a strange and hostile foreign city while your wife unleashes terrified screeches from the seat next to you and countless fence-posts meet their grisly end beneath your mad, roving tires. And it's basically the same price! Why doesn't everybody do this?!
Chuckling, as always, at all the suckers doing everything the stupid way, I rented my PODS unit and packed it up.
But wait, now I don't have a truck to do dump runs, and I always have so very much garbage; yesterday's treasure is today's blood-stained velvet panther rug, after all. There must be another, equally clever alternative to that, right? Yes! Behold, the Bagster:
Fuckin' thirty bucks at the Home Depot!
Shit, that's nothing: That's less than two gallons of gas and a post-dump recovery burrito, and you don't even have to drive into that building where old Chilean men are sadly sweeping photos of their late grandchildren out the back of a trailer onto a pile of discarded Yu-Gi-Oh! merchandise. That's a sight that haunts you, man. And it is happening right now, at this very moment, at city dumps all across the world.
This Bagster thing is a win-win situation, right? I mean, it's not like ...
Yes, they're outside your house at this very moment, perched in the trees, waiting to dive like skinny, scabby falcons at the timid rodent of your belongings. I thought I lived in a pretty nice neighborhood: middle-class, nothing fancy -- but clean, quiet and safe. Until I dragged that big green plastic bag with my household waste out onto the driveway. Then I was confronted with the disturbing reality: There are dope-fiends nesting in every hedge, scrabbling around in the drains, occupying every dark, recessed corner, just waiting for the moment you put something out on the curb that might have scrap metal in it.
"Exchange me for drugs please!"
I neatly arranged my Bagster (sides straight, straps securing the contents within, or they won't come pick it up) and set it outside. When I awoke, the entire contents were strewn across the greater metropolitan area. For the rest of the day, dudes with mouth-scars drove by in vehicles straight out of Road Warrior to ask if I "got any metal in there." They walked into my yard, picked at my belongings, knocked on my door and hassled my wife, all while hungrily eyeballing the bent aluminum legs to my old IKEA desk. Eventually, fearing for the safety and relative sanctity of my wife's genitalia, I sucked it up and ... did nothing, because I already paid my damn $30, and I am not spending another afternoon bearing witness to an elderly South American man's personal tragedy in a building full of busted TVs.
Seriously, he's always there. How much tragedy can one man sweep up?
Then I called the garbage service for pick up, and found out they secretly charge another $130 bucks to collect the Bagster. That's right: Pickup not included. I just paid $30 for a fucking convertible garbage bag.
Dejected, harried and really, really cheap, I finally gave in. I rented a van and took everything to the dump myself, bag and all. There, I watched Alejandro sweep a torn picture of little Felipe, long since taken by the fever, onto a jam-stained Reptilianne card. He turned away to hide the solitary tear, but I saw it.
I see it every night when I close my eyes.