Here Comes the Neighborhood

As if there already weren’t enough daily reminders that we are in a recession, we are now surrounded on 3 sides by people living in their vehicles.

At the end of our block, a young man lives in an old school bus painted the colors of the Jamaican flag. He has also painted over the s and h so that it reads “cool bus”. He’s been there for a while, since before the recession, and I’ve never been all that concerned with his presence. He’s clearly made a lifestyle choice.

Across the street, a young man lives in his van. He apparently knows one of our neighbors, as I have seen them talking. One time, they returned from somewhere together in the van. But the neighbor got out and went into the house while the man stayed in his mobile dwelling. I was nervous when I first noticed him living there a few months ago, but knowing that he is an acquaintance of our pre-existing neighbors (even though it is one of the irresponsible dog owners who always lets their dog crap on our lawn) gives him a vouched-for quality.

Up until last Sunday, there was an older man and woman living in a camper in the Mormon church parking lot behind our house. But they were also flush with our back fence and could see directly into our yard as well as our living room. After the man came over to ask if he could mow our lawn for money (we declined), I started closing the curtains. He later saw my husband mowing our lawn and again approached him to ask if he could help with the blackberry bushes. We declined once more. They were in the Mormon parking lot for a couple of weeks so I assume that they had permission to be there. But perhaps the hospitality has run out because as of last Sunday, they have moved their camper, truck and sedan to the driveway to the left of our house. It’s not technically our property (I don’t think) but they’re even closer to our house than they were before. I can hear them as they come and go and when they slam the doors of their various vehicles.

There aren’t very many parking spaces left on our street so I don’t know if we’re going to be getting any new neighbors. I hope we won’t. Actually, I’m a bit torn about all of this. On the one hand, it feels a bit invasive. I’m not keen on having such a crowded alley. One of the nice things about our house was that it was pretty private. But now I can see our “neighbors” when I’m doing dishes. Likewise, they know when we’re home and solicit us for work. I feel like telling them to go park in “Hobo Alley”, a park and ride under the freeway which has been home to several van dwellers for many years. It feels like our street has unwittingly become the Hobo Alley Annex. And given our break-in last year, from which I have never fully recovered, I’m not super stoked on that fact. On the other hand, if I suddenly found myself having to live in my car, I wouldn’t want to live in Hobo Alley either. I do feel really bad for these people, which is why I haven’t said anything to them about moving on. But I’m also very wary of strangers. It feels like a liability.

One thing I’m sure I have in common with our new neighbors is that I hope this is a temporary situation. Things seem to just keep getting worse in the economy with no real indication of how recovery is even possible.

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