Milk Crate (Tarot of Michelle)

An accidental discovery led to a lifetime of values-based appreciation and use.

Illustration by the author

The story of Milk Crate begins decades ago, in a dumpster outside a dormitory at the University of Oregon. From my second-floor window, I spotted a cluster of wire milk crates perfect for moving my belongings into off-campus housing. I couldn’t believe someone would throw away something so incredibly useful. I climbed into the dumpster to retrieve them, and I’ve been dragging home milk crates ever since.

I’d pick up one or two here and there: left by the side of the road, on a curb, in a free box, at a yard sale. I used them for everything: book cases, a pedestal for a bed, storage, furniture, saw horses. One lucky day I picked up a dozen that had fallen off a truck. The big stack of crates came in handy to support a long length of metal ductwork we fed into the side of the house. 

When it came time to move across the western US, I had to up my game. I purchased a lot of 25 milk crates through Craigslist. I packed all of them full of my belongings and stacked them, Tetris-like, into a huge cube in my living room. It greatly simplified shuttling them into a moving van and stacking them securely.

Even though I now have excess milk crates, I can’t bear to get rid of any of them. They’re still so incredibly useful: as sawhorses, as a privacy wall, and most recently zip-tied together into a “shower chair” while I nursed a broken ankle.

Milk Crate reminds me never to discount the small, mundane and silly things that prove their utility and return value over and over again. Milk crates reflect the consistency, versatility, portability and modularity that I value highly. I think it’s okay to have them around.

A story behind one of the cards in The Tarot of Michelle. Follow the developmental art as a Patron on Patreon.

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