This is one of a series of stories we are sharing to show what’s inside CubeSmart. You not only get a peek inside our customer’s storage unit, but also a peek inside what is important to them. Thank you to Pauline, a customer of our CubeSmart store in Lake Worth, FL, for sharing her story with us.
Pauline Tal, a widowed woman approaching 72, dons what she calls a "Mona Lisa Smile." She explains that she's not able to fully smile because she had a possible virus that affected nerves on one side of her face. She now takes botox to avoid muscle spasms.
Like the Mona Lisa, you can't really tell what goes on behind the smile, so you have to delve right in to learn that there is much more to Pauline's life than is readily apparent.
Pauline's on her own, as her husband of almost 25 years passed away 2 ½ years ago and she has no children. She's been "living out of a suitcase the last couple of years." While she owns a home in North Florida, it was damaged during Hurricane Irma and she came to stay at her parent's house in Lake Worth after her husband's death. She was born in West Palm Beach, so it was sort of a homecoming for her. She also splits time by staying at a friend's house.
She's about to move into a retirement community in Boca Raton, St. Andrews, which provides independent and assisted living facilities. She says that she plans to stay there for the rest of her life and that they have the ability to care for her when she can no longer care for herself. She reports being happy because she was able to pick how her apartment would look, what amenities it would have. Also, her friends live there and she may even have four friends there as another will be moving in, too! Her friend's child is helping her to take care of the paperwork since she has no family to assist her.
Pauline became a customer of the CubeSmart located at 1900 6th Ave S, Lake Worth, FL 33461 almost two years ago, as she started storing items from the North Florida home she shared with her Canadian husband, who has now passed. She's looking forward to selling her home, which fortunately did not in incur major damage from the hurricane. While the bottom floor had three feet of water, most of her items were on the second floor and on platforms because her husband had the foresight to make their primary residence upstairs. They only had to replace a hot water heater and garage door.
She says the downsizing process has been "difficult" because her home was two stories with an attic, and her husband "never passed a trash can he didn't love." She can only go through so much at a time while she is up there, but she has been working on donating items and clearing out items she will no longer need.
But, Pauline's story doesn't end there. Behind her smile lies a well-traveled, curious and groundbreaking woman.
Fifty years ago, computers still took up rooms, and that's when she got into the computer industry. Even today, women experience stigma in the male-dominated tech space, and yet she was on the ground floor of it all. She recalls coding with punching cards and using the earliest forms of coding to program computers before personal computers even existed.
In her young adulthood, she attended Florida Atlantic University (FAU), where she earned a BA and two Masters Degrees in Computers and Public Administration. After obtaining her degrees, she began working at FAU. She continued working there for 30 years, until her retirement 20 years ago. She coded, programmed, and provided reports of various statistics, student schedules, and more.
Pauline declares that she does not have a computer in her house right now, because she's "had enough computers." However, she admits that she will occasionally use the computer at the library if she has to. She also refuses to do her banking online, because her computer knowledge prevents her from trusting others on the internet. She pays for her unit in person because she "adore[s] them here" and uses a credit card because it gives her points. She's using the points to buy a TV for her new home.
She says she is considering traveling some more, once she gets settled in. She reminisces on her two trips to Notre Dame and says she feels sad for the fire damage it recently experienced. She further explains that through the FAU Anthropology Department, she took three trips to Mexico. She's also traveled to Japan, England, Paris, and Italy, sometimes visiting or staying with friends, and/or bringing the family along. She reports that Rome, Italy was beautiful. And she felt at home in one of the cities in Mexico. She couldn't quite spell the name, but she would consider visiting once again.
Stopping by her unit, she takes out a large metal can in an abnormal shape and explains that this was from WWII and used to hold bullet shells. She uses it for geocaching. She seemed to favor one of her arms and said that she recently damaged it while learning to curl. It seems that when pried, she could go on all day, unveiling even more intriguing details from her life and interests. Imagine being able to ask Mona Lisa why she smiled….
We’d love to hear how self storage has positively impacted your life. Share your #HumansofSelfStorage story in the comments.