Storage Drama Queens: Manny

Manny is a wee lonely little chap. Manny looks like a leprechaun and smells like a dead leprechaun. It does not matter what you are doing, who you are receiving phone calls from, how many hundreds of invoices you need to get into the mail by the afternoon pick-up deadline, or what marketing tasks you are trying to concentrate on, Manny needs to come into your office. Manny wants to live in your office. He wants to live on the employee-side of the desk. Manny really wants to be given permission to use your microwave and he wants permission to be able to put his lunch in your employee refrigerator in the next room. Manny is a seething black hole of human longing.

What Manny really wants more than anything is to be a special part of what is going on throughout the property. Manny will give you long and detailed unsolicited analyses of minor maintenance issues he has discovered during his time wandering through the blocks of units that are not his. This was easy for Manny to do because Manny spends an average of 4 hours per day on the property, moving items to and fro between his storage unit and his vehicle. Manny knows that you watch him through the security cameras, so he sneaks through the emergency exit on the side of the property so that he can surprise you in your office even when he is coded in through the system and thought to be inside of his unit. Manny will then ask to use the bathroom. Manny will spend over thirty minutes in the bathroom. This is because spending 30 minutes inside the bathroom is the best way for Manny to feel like he is sharing space with you and that he is included in the goings-on of the office.

Manny is 45 and healthy, but Manny is insistent on making himself your problem. Manny does not take emotional self-inventories nor does he preview statements in his imagination before speaking them out loud. Manny is apparently incapable of feeling shame or discourtesy of any kind, so even when you make overt signals that it’s time for him to stop talking about his life and to leave your office so that you can return to work, Manny will not be disturbed by them. He will continue to drone on about the blow-by-blow of his last week and what he hopes to accomplish in the coming week.

Manny is a professional that takes his craft very seriously. Manny spends a good portion of the time that he is talking uninterruptedly about himself informing you of the different jobs he is doing and how much he was paid for each. Because Manny is chemically unable to feel any shocks of embarrassment or self-doubt of any kind, Manny does not understand why you are upset to hear that he is making two to three times as much money per hour as you are, while he caps off his earnings report with a side-note that he thinks it is very rude when people come and interrupt him when he is working on a job site. Manny’s unique mental development makes Manny immune to irony.

Manny needs to be cradled emotionally. It is your responsibility to cradle Manny emotionally, because he is a 45 year old stranger that is renting a storage locker on the property you manage. The fact that it is your responsibility to cradle Manny emotionally should be self evident. If you should make the heinous mistake of finally losing your patience with Manny, either for all the times he has come into your office and sat next to you while you were on a company conference call receiving delicate and private information (and Manny gaped at you, upset with how long it was taking for you to pay attention to him) or for how many times he has come into your office and started talking to you while you were full-on in a conversation with another customer, or for how often he has come in and made snide comments about how easy your job is based off of the small data sampling he has taken, then Manny will get upset. This is because Manny does not understand that whenever Manny is jawing at you without ceasing, you cannot get any work done. Additionally, Manny always needs to jaw at you about himself without ceasing, even if he has just spoken with you in the morning and only been in his storage unit for 30 minutes in between. So,  it appears to the very scientific Manny that you are never working. This is air-tight and explains the endless and prideful beaming that Manny exhibits while talking about Manny.

Manny will get upset because you are not giving Manny all the attention that Manny reasonably merits and deserves. If you finally get upset enough to decide to make plain and clear to Manny how disruptive, emotionally needy and downright insane Manny is being, he will resist your first few attempts through his remarkably well adapted insensitivity to others. Your clear and logical explanations of why it’s not okay for Manny to hang out in your office all day critiquing the job that you do will not be appreciated by Manny, but he will initially resist them by dismissing your change in mood as attributable to your “working too hard”.

The basic fact of the matter is that Manny is playing out his most infantile stages of emotional development in the middle of his life and it’s your responsibility as a an absolute stranger to bear the brunt of his unpleasant and stinky confusion. This is self-evident because you are there, where Manny is.

Introducing Storage Drama Queens

The self storage industry has its fair share of absolute whackos, the sort of people that make you tilt your head when you first try to wrap your mind around what’s actually coming out of their mouths. Maybe they’re the crazy bird lady that always comes onto the property with her special parrot friend perched on her shoulder, alternately squawking at strangers and crapping on her owner’s clothes and on the floor. Maybe it’s the innumerable couples that you see in and out of their storage unit, sometimes screaming at each other so loudly that your security cameras pick it up, and sometimes coming into the office parading around in nauseating displays of affection. Maybe it’s the little 30 something man that has absolutely no legitimate whatsoever reason to be in your office except for the fact that his legendary loneliness has forced him to transfix on you as if you were a long lost family member.

Self storage assumes a certain degree of uncertainty: tenants are either moving, or not sure when they’re moving, or freshly kicked out of their homes by divorce or eviction, or perhaps they’re just confused and need a breather to figure out their next move. But the fact of the matter is that along with this uncertainty comes an inordinately high rate of insanity, human frailty, disgustingly pronounced degrees of emotional transposition of very intimate complexes to absolute strangers (see: poor and woefully under-prepared property managers), and downright sadness. The people that frequent self storage facilities together make up a rainbow of confusion and misbehavior that would inspire their embarrassment, had they only sufficient sense to realize how ridiculous they were being.

Oddballs and Self Storage Seem to Go Together Very Well

But they don’t realize how ridiculous they’re being, because they are incapable of doing so. They become, your problem. As one clever property manager once put it, “we have 650 units on this property and 650 personalities”. This is a diplomatic way of saying that managing a self storage facility can feel like you are running a daycare: you are underpaid to handle  someone else’s poorly formed creation. At first it seems quite subtle, and you move quickly to put the first signs out of your mind as rapidly as they first occurred to you. You try to dismiss the strange interactions you have with some of your tenants as partly in your imagination. No, he can’t really be that insane, but it just seems accentuated because I myself am tired. But with time the signs become more and more difficult to ignore. Eventually you catch yourself in that moment; that one, irrevocable moment that forever transforms your outlook on what you are actually doing for a paycheck. And it happens exactly at the moment you realize that you are explaining, patiently and with fervor, to a grown-ass man twice your age, some basic aspect of social interaction that his own mother should have taught him decades ago.

You can’t climb over that fence at night to get into your unit and retrieve your bedsheets (Oh, my Lord, am I actually saying this outloud to him?) because: 1. It is very dangerous and technically trespassing and 2. It is 3am in the morning and you have just woken me and my wife up so that I could give you an unplanned lesson on why normal business hours are set up the way they are.

Welcome to Storage Drama Queens, the newest and juiciest feature on the Storage Auctions Kings news magazine. Whether you happen to be a self storage manager that’s stopping by for a little bit of understanding and catharsis, or you’re just a collector of pathetic tales of absurd human beings, you have come to the right place. Revel in my unpleasant experiences. Reap joy where I could only endure sorrow and shake my head in disbelief.