September 2009 On The Floor Editorial - Garage Envy
I’m going to go out on a limb here and make the assumption that most of you have a home with a garage attached to it or at least located somewhere near it. I’m also going to assume that many of you take your garage for granted on some level. Sure, sure, you spend time in it. You’ve dressed it up with wall art from magazines, and you’ve got an old fridge in the corner filled with frosty cold ones, and your buddies frequent your garage to bench race about the cool truck lying on the floor waiting to be driven on the next sunny Sunday afternoon. On the surface, it would seem like you’re doing your garage justice. You’re paying attention to it, and making sure it’s given the proper care and feeding. You love your garage, I’m sure, but you still take it for granted. Why? Because it’s yours already. You’ve got your garage and you can venture out to it anytime you like. You’re not cutting up coil springs in the alley behind your apartment with a cordless Sawzall to drop your truck like so many non-garage owners have done. Man, I’m such a hater.
Want to finish putting the tune on your engine the night before a big cruise? No problem. You can do that after you eat dinner and put the kids to bed. No landlord is gonna be able to kick you out for making sure the cobwebs are blown out of the Flowmasters at midnight. Want to escape the out-laws when they invade your home for the holidays? Then you tell ’em that there’s something wrong with the Christmas lights and you’ve got to go to your garage for a few hours to work on the electrical panel. Your garage is more than just a place to work on your truck, and you’ve probably forgotten about that. Your garage provides a multitude of excuses to find a bit of serenity. These are important pluses to garage ownership that you are likely taking for granted.
Guys like me have tools stashed throughout multiple counties. We have project trucks hidden away in shops and backyards. Without some sort of checklist, we can’t remember who borrowed what tool from us and when they borrowed it. That tool will be lost for years, because the borrower isn’t going to return it until we have a place of our own to store the tool properly. And why should they return it? If we need to use the tool, we are probably going to tow our truck to their house anyway, just so we can use their driveway and the tool. This sort of thing can get out of hand if guys like me don’t get a garage of our own. This is how project trucks languish forever in a black sea of rust, neglect, and theft.
Over the years, I’ve made small strides in my quest for garage ownership. I’ve rented shops with people who never seem to come up with their share of the rent on time. Tools tend to disappear in that scenario too, and there’s never enough room for all of my stuff when I’m sharing a thousand square feet of concrete and drywall with other gearheads. Renting a shop in Orange County, California, on my own is out of the question because shop space goes for about a buck fifty per square foot. Do the math and you’ll see how much more valuable your garage is now. These are temporary solutions to a long-term problem.
My ’73 Chevy is a prime example of how important a garage is. I traded away the motor and tranny out of the truck just so I’d have a place to work on it in a friend’s driveway. And once the new motor and tranny was under the hood, I still needed time ano a place to plumb and rewire the truck. What did I do? I towed my dragboat out of my rented storage unit, stashed it at another friend’s garage, and put the ’73 in my palatial 400 square foot unit, so that I could finish the engine swap. The cramped quarters and early closing time of my storage unit really drove home the idea that I need to own a garage of my own.
Of course, owning a garage means owning a home and owning a home means purchasing land. So at the end of the day, the key to happiness means becoming a land owner, or in other words, a slave to a mortgage. I can think of worse causes to be a slave to though, so I’ve started house-hunting with the wife. Our priorities are a little out of sync; I’m shopping for the perfect 2,000 square foot shop with an 800 foot shack attached to it. She’s shopping for the perfect house with a big kitchen and an even bigger closet for all of her shoes and my junk can sit behind a fence or something. I’m sure it will all work out and soon I’ll be penning a column about how cool it is to sleep in my garage. Until then, give your garage some lovin’ and I’ll see ya next month.