Luggage Racks

Posted: February 20, 2008 in Children, Goals, Health, Homelessness, Money, Veterans

This morning while I was headed to get my cup of hot chocolate I saw an older model car. What caught my attention about his car in particular is that it had a trunk mounted, chrome plated luggage rack. Something I hadn’t seen in quite some time. But after taking my first sip of hot chocolate I didn’t bother to think anymore about it – or so I thought.  

At lunch time, I found myself at a fast food restaurant to grab a bite to eat. But then something caught my attention. Sitting in one of the parking spaces was a full sized van that had a roof mounted chrome plated luggage rack. I think that reason I noticed it is because the luggage rack was "tubular" just like the luggage rack that had been on the car I had seen earlier in this morning.

After I had eaten, I saw a SUV that had a luggage rack. This one however had a more modern look. It was matte black, which was a nice contrast to the rest of the vehicle which was almost a forest green.

The thing is that after that, as I was going about my business I started noticing that quite a number of vehicles had luggage racks. Vans. SUV’s. Station Wagons. Some of the luggage racks were nothing more than two rails running the length of the roof. Some had cross members. There were even a few which were just the cross members without the lengthwise rails.

But this was getting way out of hand. I’d almost become obsessed with looking for luggage racks. So I tried forcing myself to stop to stop looking. Suddenly I realized something. All of the luggage racks I’d been seeing had one thing in common: none of them had any luggage.

I thought about it for a while, and tried to remember when was the last time I had seen a vehicle that actually had any luggage tied to their racks. And you know what? I couldn’t recall seeing a vehicle with luggage on their luggage racks. This made me wonder why auto makers bother to put them on in the first place if they’re not going to be used.

As it turns out, luggage racks are – which just a few exceptions – an optional accessory. When you buy a new car, if it has a luggage rack you pay for it. How do I know that? Okay, I’ll admit it. I called an auto dealer and asked.

The odd thing is that all of this noticing of unutilized luggage racks throughout the day, had me thinking about the local area homeless, who are forced to tote their "luggage" around with them. It seemed an odd paradox to me. Folks who have something not using what they have. And those who have very little having to carry all of what little they do have.

It would be interesting to take a poll to find out just how many gadgets and other things we have sitting around our homes that don’t get used. What would be more interesting would be to figure out how much we’ve spent on all of these things. And why, do we continue to spend money on things we aren’t going to use?

The truth is that all of the gadgets and other items that we don’t use, but continue to hang on to just the same, simply create clutter in our lives.

I’d be willing to bet that most people having clothing in the closets right now that don’t get used. There are probably things hanging about our garages that have been there for so long that they’re covered with cobwebs. Some of us even storage units we’ve rented expressly to store things we will probably never do anything with. What’s worse, is that quite a number of us will continue to spend money on things we will use once and then never again.

I can think of a lot of things that that money could be used for. For example:

We could put that money toward funding programs that would help our community’s homeless veterans. Considering that in SLO county there isn’t an agency or organization that is geared specifically to helping our homeless veterans transition back into the community – it would be money well spent.

We could take some of that money and create community sponsored educational programs to help our local area homeless children. Homeless children are more likely to do poorly in school than non-homeless children. They are also more like to become socially withdrawn that non-homeless children. This is because of the shame of having no home.

Or, how about taking some of that money and creating an organization that would help homeless seniors, by offering to offset their Medi-Cal and Medicaid deductibles? Homeless seniors are more likely to have problems maintaining their health than their non-homeless counterparts. This is because homeless senior citizens have a harder time affording the medications they need to manage their health issues.

And the list goes on…

There are a lot of things we could do. But we’d have to be willing to rid ourselves of all of the superficial things that serve only to clutter up our lives; things that only end up on a shelf somewhere gathering dust.

Once we rid ourselves of all the excess "baggage," we might just realize that we can get rid of the luggage racks too.

  1. AnAmerican says:

    You hit the nail right on the head! Many folks gladly spend money on nonessential items before even considering giving to charitable organizations that cover basic human services. This is why your thoughts and education about homlessness are so valuable!

    (I do have a luggage rack on my car… it was a standard feature and I don’t think I will ever use it… unless I decide to ride on it myself one day!)

  2. tbearly says:


    I’m in the middle of trying to rid my life of quite so much “stuff.” It’s incredible, really, just how much useless crapola we tend to accumulate over the years, and during these past few of my life, while I’ve been downsizing (as it were) and making changes in virtually every other arena, I’ve tried to become much more conscious of what is really necessary and/or important to my life, and what is superfluous.

    For my “Ethics and the Environment” course we’re reading a book you might find interesting: “Deep Economy”, by Bill McKibben (2007). McKibben posits that we are to the point now in this economy/society whereby the business as usual approach of “growth” and wanting “better” must always go hand-in-hand, is what we need to re-evaluate. It’s definitely worth a read, and examines precisely the types of attitudes you remark upon in this post.

    We do not need more “stuff.” We need a return to true compassion, a sense of belonging to community, a means to re-build our communities while acknowledging the contributions of all, and a return to extending ourselves beyond our own little cocooned existence in our ticky-tacky houses (where we think we can keep The Other very much at arm’s length).

    As always, thank you for your insight, Michael.


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