Mike and the Container

Finally. After two years of calling and waiting and talking to landlords and visiting properties, we found one; a warehouse that fits our needs and budget. We were breathing sighs of relief and the end of the breath became a terrified gasp. Now the work would begin. Lots of work. And the waiting, lots of waiting.

The first round of waiting was for the previous tenant to remove his–ahem–items from the premises. This looked like a monumental task as every space of the backyard was filled with his stuff; car parts, boxes, 5 gallon buckets of paint, trash, and grease and oil on just about every surface you gazed.  It probably resembled an episode of Hoarders, which we have not seen, only heard about.

Looming above and amidst the detritus was a 40-foot shipping container in the back yard. It was sort of attached to the main building with a cobbled not-to-code shade structure that would have fallen down without our help in a year or two. This was to be our inheritance to deal with; the previous tenant had no means to remove it, nor did the landlord.  We offered to take care of it.  At first, we thought, “Cool! An office or guest room in a container would be so hip!” That’s until we smelled it and saw the corrosion on the ceiling and decided it probably wasn’t worth the trouble.  After looking into the city codes, the container would have added square footage, which would mean more parking spaces would be required than our landlord could grant us. The container had to go.

Have you ever thought of what it takes to move a 40-foot shipping container? That’s a lot of metal and teak to move. Yeah, it takes those cranes at the Port of Oakland that inspired George Lucas to design the AT-AT. None of those around here. But wouldn’t it be cool if an AT-AT moved the container…

Do you know who wants a shipping container? Everybody. Our friend Crystal from Oakland says up there they call them apartments. There’s an entire movement to refurbish and live in them these days. Our friend Addie dreams of burying one in the ground and turning it into a hobbit hole. Shipping containers of this size run about two grand and one priced at $700 USD is certainly going to turn a few heads. Morgan got half dozen calls the same day she listed it on Craigslist.

Why the low asking price? Well, we wanted it gone, but we also weren’t sure what it would take to get it out of there; it was wedged in the back of the warehouse via a narrow alley between a creek and the building.  There wasn’t exactly a lot of room to position a 40 foot trailer.

It turns out Mike was the only person who wanted the container in its current state and knew what it would take to get it, without needing the AT-AT crane.

At first, Mike decided to try to pull away from building with his truck. I think it was like a Ford F350 super duty probably maybe? Anyway, moderately burly truck. Please see video below.

He did get a few good yanks, bringing the container over about a foot. But the truck ran out of yanking space. Now it was off in search of a forklift. There is construction on the Avivo homes within spitting distance and Mike left to ask if he could borrow some heavy equipment. He returned and reported the Avivo construction people said no; liability reasons. But, hey, it doesn’t hurt to ask. He decided try renting a forklift on Tank Farm Road. Half an hour later; forklift, for the win.

With the container now a safe distance from the building, the container transport driver made the rest look easy. Except for the bent poles in the first attempt to lift the container, it was a breeze. Well, more like a slide.

I was so impressed at how easy it was that I just stood there with my mouth open, in awe at the physics involved. Don’t you just love gravity? Hurray for levers!

In the end, the $700 container probably cost Mike more like $1000 with the effort it took to get it home. But he certainly seems pleased.


And so are we. Even more pleased when Mike turned out to be a 3rd generation farmer with multiple properties and said he wanted to grow a few acres of cider apples on his land for us. Morgan and I just looked at each other, not believing our luck. Thank you, Universe!

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