Monday, December 3, 2007

BoxCar Child Updated to UHaul Guy!

One of my favorite childhood books was The Box Car Children. An article in this morning's Inquirer about a quarter-life retrofitting a UHaul truck caught my fancy.

His dream is less work, more free time.
Chris Harne is either bonkers or brilliant.

The 25-year-old middle-class suburbanite who says he doesn't care for material consumption has a plan to live for free, or very little:

Set up house in a box truck.

In jeans and a used, 50-cent Wawa hoodie, Harne last week put the final touches on a secondhand, 17-foot U-Haul truck with 175,000 miles that he has recycled into a one-room domicile, complete with sink, easy chair and front porch.

He plans to call it home while he winters and works as a bicycle cabbie in Key West, Fla.

On Friday, Harne backed down the long driveway of his parents' spacious Kennett Square home, where he'd been staying comfortably since summer, and headed south, stopping to pick up a driving companion he met on Craigslist.

"I'm trying to figure out the way to work the smallest amount possible," he said last month between customers at his last gig, working for a junk hauler - an ideal job for someone who enjoys living off others' castaways.

"Nobody has any free time. That's not right. You need some free time. You need to do something you care about. Or nothing. You need to spend your time for yourself instead of somebody else."

Hence the U-Haul. "That's what the truck is all about," he said. "If you live in a truck, you can drastically slash your bills and hopefully work a lot less."

While Harne expects to miss plumbing, he is creating a personal experiment to determine what is money for. Some people do this through travel. This is an interesting alternative adventure. Eventually he will decide what matters most; his blog should be interesting to follow.

A little correction to the writer of the article. Much of Harne's possessions are reused, not recycled. Recycling involves taking an item, turning it back to a raw material, and remanufacturing it. I love this underground subculture of those who have figured out they can achieve a modest quality of life on our culture's wasted surplus: dumpster divers, freegans, couchsurfers, and even freecycle folks. These are all great ways of reusing things, lowering one's ecological footprint, as well as liberating more personal time. You can watch an interview with Chris, or track his blog.

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