Tent City: A Soap Saga

29 Oct

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They cancelled all the Soaps from my childhood, but the memory remains clear (and will for life) of the high-stake emotional roller coasters of inbreeding, murder, mystery and hysterical outbursts they produced. Whole towns stuck in perpetuity of land lock like Brigadoon, where everyone had an evil twin no one knew about, and people would continually die and then come back to life again…or have massive reconstruction surgery to look like other people…for reasons that never made any sense, but were totally based on actor availability at the time.

…A part of me mourns their loss. They were fucking ridiculous, and if you missed one day you’d have no idea what the hell was going on anymore, or who was married or sleeping with whom…but it was an easy way to kill a sick day.

….I only bring this up because New Boss has taken to eating lunch in his office, while looking out his windows. It’s his new favorite thing. I know, cuz he’s told me. His very own tent-city soap, which he narrates while I type away in my office.

To set this up, (if you’re new, like he is) you need to know: we are located just out of the Port. It ain’t the greatest side of town, and has been the topic of many blogs across the years about Dancing Tweakers, Stoned Homeless Models, a Tunnel Tranny (prostitute crossdresser), et al. From time to time, we will also find ourselves the neighbors of a transient Tent-City…which will start with one, and multiply to half a dozen “homes,” collecting across several days to a month, until the cops come, bust them all, and they load of their kits like travellers, gone by the next day, until they mysteriously re-emerge slowly again, several months later.

…So happens, New Boss, got hired just after one of such transitions, so that one day while eating his yogurt he hollared out:

Boss: Hey! There’s a puptent!
Me: Oh yeah. They do that. Must be city rebuild time.
Boss: What?
Me: Yeah, it’ll start with one or two…and if they don’t get busted another will show up soon..then another…
Boss: Seriously?
Me: Yep.
Boss: What do we do?
Me: Nothing. It’s not our property, they never come in our yard or anything to bother us.
Boss: They just “live” there?!
Me: Yep.
Boss: On the side of the overpass?!
Me: Yep.
Boss: Just like that?!
Me: Well, I mean…it’ll grow now. If no one busts em.
Boss: What do you mean?
Me: Watch. You’ll see…

…And he did. Totally fascinated. For over a week now. Like its some kind of social human study on transients. Every lunch: he’s sitting there,watching them eat and drink and have domestic disputes just like they were a living soap opera, playing out their daily dramas.

Day 2

Boss: There’s another one!! Look!! Now there are TWO tents!
Me: Yup. I told yuh…
Boss: …Same piece of grass, but like 20 feet away.
Me: it’s like a “gentleman’s agreement” of land rights. Those’ll redistribute to smaller plots as it continues to populate.

Day 3

Boss: That one has a bike now. He looks like he’s talking to someone but I can’t figure out to who.
Me: Prob’ly no one. They frequently have arguments with the air and trees and things.
Boss: Seriously?
Me: We had one dance outside the tunnel for like three hours one day to no music at all.
Boss: Like, for money?
Me: No, for fun. He just felt like it I guess.

Day 3

Boss: Five!! Five tents!
Me: Yep.
Boss: Not to be gross, but…where do they…you know…go to the bathroom?
Me: There.
Boss: Where?
Me: Anywhere. There…or there…or there…
Boss: Just–Out in public?
Me: Well yeah. It’s not like they travel with Honeybuckets or something…
Boss: Seriously?!
Me: You’ll see. Literally, at some point (unfortunately)…

Day 4

Boss: OHMYGOD! THATWOMANINFAKFURANDHIGHHEELSJUSTWALKEDACROSSTHESTREETTOTHATOTHERPATCHOFGRASSSQUATTEDANDPEED!
Me: Yep.
Boss: Just like that!
Me: Yep.
Boss: I can’t even. And that guy! What’s he doing do you think?
Me: Picking the ground for cigarette butts and needles most likely.
Boss: Woa.
Me: Yeah, I can’t handle the shoot ups part…s’why I’m super glad my office faces the tunnel and I don’t have to see when they do that crap. Too much traffic.

Day 5

Boss: Fight!! Its a fight!
Me: They’ll calm down in a minute. All they do is yell…if it got violent, the cops would stop and make them all go away.
Boss: So they just stand there screaming back and forth? What does that resolve?
Me: I dunno. Nothing. What does it ever resolve.
Boss: It looks like it’s about that fur-coat lady.
Me: So I’m gonna guess she banged someone she shouldn’t have and now her boyfriend is pissed.
Boss: Well yeah, but..I mean…one would guess based on her behavior and dress that that is like her “job” so to speak.
Me: Oh yeah, no, she’s totally a prostitute…but that’s just her job. It’s like what’s-her-face in “A Hundred Ways To Die In The West.” It’s an agreement you do what you have to for livelihood. She’s just not supposed to like cozy up with someone for “fun.”
Boss: And that guy was “fun”?!
Me: Dude, you’ve seen their world. At least he still has most of his teeth.

…And so on.

…It is a bizarre and horrible fact of life that people can and do live this existance. And of course there are a variety of reasons they do…though the communities in our area of the Port seem mostly due to mega substance abuse. After years of watching them repopulate and relocate and come back again…one sorta becomes anesthetized to their presence. Like neighbors in New York, we ignore one another and do what we do to survive. One only realizes how matter-of-fact it has become when it is seen through fresh eyes….who are clearly old enough to have seen it before, but never on such a close-up, daily, routine and basis.

…In time, our neighbor’s lives will become as face-valued and unsurprising to New Boss, as a coma victim waking up after 20 years lost out at sea, or a backstabbing evil twin who stole the other’s identity and even his own wife couldn’t tell. Because that’s just the way it rolls in America…sadly.

…At the moment, at least, Tent-City has a most consumed witness to their daily stories…until one day when we come in to find they have moved once again, to greener pastures.

~D

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