Storage lockers: blood & sweat, but no tears

What did you do last Friday night? Wait, don’t answer. My husband and I have got you beat. We got dressed up in our nice running shoes and went down to our storage locker to do some organizing. 

This trip was spurred by a visit to the mailbox. After finding a yellow UPS slip, we promptly entered the locked package room and took what looked to be the most appealing package. Just kidding. We only took the one with my name on it, which was decidedly the least appealing.

I promise.

The package contained two sizes of hooks for storage locker organization, courtesy of my husband’s countless minutes of online research.

We took the elevator down to the storage locker and got to work. In the excitement of the imminent organizational activity, I forgot to insist on taking the stairs.

Located one level underground, our storage locker is a wire cage that would be a good sized kennel for a medium-sized dog that has a medium-sized desire to move around. Not that you should leave your dog in your storage locker; I’m just trying to give you an idea of its size. After opening the combination lock, we took turns ducking in the locker itself. We have suffered many excruciating head bumps from entering and exiting the locker.

The thought behind our project was this: why is the bottom half of the storage locker chock-full of stuff, while the top portion holds nothing? The idea wasn’t all ours; sometimes on our date nights, we walk through the storage locker room to peruse different organizational techniques. While we aren’t impressed by the throw-everything-you-own-including-old-carpets-and-Christmas-decorations-haphazardly-in-the-locker technique, we did see one or two clever folks using hooks to hang items like hockey skates.

Our goal was to hang our bike rack, which we had just retrieved from my mom’s garage, where it had spent a few years after we lent it to my brother (you’re welcome, Mom; enjoy the free space!). We would have gladly left it there, but alas, we wanted to bike the Gateway Trail to Stillwater, and we wanted to park in Maplewood to get a head start. By asking to borrow our own bike rack, the extremely underused object was now our problem.  

It took some finagling to get the large green hooks (technically “bird feeder hooks”) situated through the top of the wire cage and properly hanging down.

“Wow, those are the perfect size!” I was impressed. My husband’s online shopping skills prevailed once again. “Do you think we could hang the skis on those?” Forget the bike rack; I was thinking we could hang everything!

If we were to take my own advice, we would not have these skis in the storage anymore. I am ashamed to say I can’t remember using them while living at our previous two residences; they are used to their place in the storage locker. Now that I am accustomed to working out in the morning, putting on my skis in the dark and heading to the nearest local ski path on a winter morning just doesn’t seem that convenient. Or pleasant.

We should have gotten rid of them some time ago. I am not condoning our behavior.

Here is the excuse I prefer to make: the storage locker is a place for things you didn’t use for the past four winters but hope to use this winter. Sporting equipment is pricey. Unless you’ve made a conscious decision that you are no longer going to rollerblade after last summer’s close call on a downhill, you might not be ready to let your sporting equipment go.

Our skis were longer than the length of the storage locker thanks to our height. We went diagonal and they fit. One tree hook in the back left corner and another in the front right.

“It’s like a ski hammock!” I loved it. There was so much more space on the bottom half of the locker.


Finally, we hung the bike rack. Then a bright green gift bag containing our winter boots using one of the smaller hooks. Ice skates, snowshoes.

“We don’t have to hang everything,” my husband pointed out.

I agreed, though I plan on convincing him to go back down next Friday night so we can hang the bike pump and the foldable white desks that we are storing from the office makeover.

“What do you think?” my husband asked.

“There’s so much room to breathe!” I believe in taking time to relish the small victories.

“It will be so much easier to get the bikes out.” Yes, I am bragging here; our bikes fit in our storage locker. Maybe one day, you too can enjoy such a luxury.

“Wait, you don’t think…” I trailed off.

“The hooks aren’t strong enough to hold the bikes, if that’s what you’re getting at.”

Darn. But at this point, the top of the locker was getting pretty full, so maybe I would need to look elsewhere to get my next organizational fix.

We took a victory lap around the storage lockers, gloating at the superiority of our hooks to the makeshift Jenga-like stacks we saw around us.

“Wait, are you bleeding?” I noticed a cut on my husband’s knuckles.

“It’s not a big deal,” he responded. Well worth it for the great work done, I suppose.

But wait. The neighbor two lockers down only has a lamp and a two small cardboard boxes. Whose locker is that? Did they move out? Or is that really all the overflow items they have? Looks like we may have to introduce ourselves…

Neighbors in houses may compete over the greenness of their lawns or the pruning of their rosebushes, but here in the condo, we know what’s important: organizing and minimizing the items in our storage lockers.

Carissa Jean Tobin lives in a condo in Northeast Minneapolis with her husband. Her hobbies include creating humorous surveys for friends, lounging at the Wilde Roast Café, and administering the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator to interested family members, friends, and strangers. She teaches kindergarten in North Minneapolis.