Friday, July 28, 2006

you know what, stuart, i like you. you're not like the other people, here, in the trailer park.

Actually, the preferred nomenclature would be "mobile" or "manufactured" home. I was told this over and over again by a woman I worked alongside in the file room of a large manufactured housing company just outside of Knoxville. She lived in a trailer park.
I was there at the company headquarters through a temp agency for six months, though my actual work ran out before my first two months had finished. This happens quite a bit when temping with a large corporation. The woman in charge of the file room thought that having a temp made them look busy and therefore wanted to keep as many temps employed for as long as possible. This was unspoken, of course, though it was obvious to all involved.
So it was that I spent four months reading books in various self-made hiding places throughout a warehouse that resembled the one at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark. I even got so bored that I rummaged through the discarded office furniture corner of the warehouse for chairs and unfashionable paintings and other assorted decorations to adorn these makeshift hiding places that sat behind seemingly endless stacks of boxes containing old "manufactured home" contracts with a Polaroid of a different crumbling trailer stapled to each.
The assistant vice president--who we will hereafter refer to as "Stuart"--would sometimes have me rummage through these boxes to look for a specific contract and Polaroid. He would sincerely apologize for taking me from my reading, as he himself began in that very same useless position before casually working his way up the corporate ladder out of boredom more than anything, and would then weave tales of delinquent trailer mortgages or various customer service oddities as we shifted and sifted through boxes. We once even had to find the paperwork for a woman suing the company for selling her a used trailer that she later discovered to be haunted.
But the times that really stuck with me were those occasions when we had to find contracts for trailers that had recently been scattered in the wake of a tornado. Stuart or one of his underlings would show up with a stack of obliterated trailers and documentation of the damage to staple to the old contracts and Polaroids. I remember him once holding up a photo of nothing more than a couple of scraps of aluminum wrapped around a tree and saying, "That's why you never want to live in a trailer".
I didn't much fancy the idea before that actually. However, the more I looked at them the more I began to have an appreciation for the artistic form of the trailer and its various adornments ranging from year-round Christmas lights and plastic flamingos to vivid paint schemes and designs in the (presumably) Mexican style of its owner. Still, it never struck me as a suitable domicile. I couldn't even try and sell one in good conscience or with a straight face.
Many can. I occasionally had to emerge from the warehouse into a sea of cubicles abuzz with the angrily raised voices of a thousand mortgage brokers attempting to impart the fear of God into a thousand previously proud manufactured home owners. Subtlety was not a virtue in this line of work, and I at first thought that the operators were each yelling at their own children at the other end of the line. It was sometimes brutal and unsuitable to be printed here, and this is presumably why Stuart often liked to work in the warehouse himself rather than send an underling.
Also, there were a few formerly proud manufactured home owners who didn't appreciate being yelled at. Many of them lived in east Tennessee and knew exactly where the headquarters sat and were interested in finishing the conversation on delinquent payments in person. This is why all employees needed one of those sliding encoded badges to operate any of the doors.
However, I worked there for six months without being issued a badge, as my official orders were simply to just "follow someone in". It is an artform and I perfected it, though it started off quite awkwardly. In that first week, I would run up behind people as they entered and soon learned that those who spend their days yelling at trailer park inhabitants can be quite skiddish when out of the safe confines of their cubicle. However, by the end I had the timing and movements down. They would even hold the door for me as I feigned looking for by badge. I would pretend to be oblivious and then notice and acknowledge their kindness before sneaking off to the warehouse for a quick nap before the day's reading.
Disgruntled trailer park inhabitants should take note.

9 Comments:

Blogger Sarcastro said...

You're not like the other people here
in the trailer park. Oh no, don't get me wrong, they're fine people, good
Americans. But they're content to sit back, maybe watch a little Mork and
Mindy on channel 57. Maybe kick back a cool Coors 16-ouncer. They're
good fine people, Stuart. But they don't know what the queers are doing
to the soil.

9:24 AM  
Blogger ceeelcee said...

I used to have rainbow suspenders.

Is there no end to the embarrassing crap I'm willing to reveal about myself?

But hey, some chicks dig self-deprecating humor.

Really needy, troubled chicks...

who sometimes live in trailers.

10:19 AM  
Blogger Rex L. Camino said...

You know that carnival that comes to town every year? Well this year it came with a ride called the Mixer. The man said "Keep your head and arms inside the mixer at all times." But Bill Jr., he was a daredevil, just like his old man. He was leaning out saying, "Hey everybody! Look at me, look at me!" POW! He was decapitated.

They found his head over by the snowcone concession.

10:40 AM  
Blogger Sarcastro said...

Jumping Jesus on a pogo stick! Everybody knows that a burrow owl lives in a hole in the ground!
Why the hell do you think they call it a burrow owl, anyway?!
http://sarcastro.squarespace.com/journal/2005/5/18/you-know-what-stuart-i-like-you.html

3:19 PM  
Blogger Rex L. Camino said...

Ah. I forgot that you had already made a reference to the same song. That album probably figured heavily in the formative years of more folk than will ever be known.

8:53 AM  
Anonymous Sarcastro said...

There's a little Dead Milkman in all of us.

12:49 PM  
Blogger newscoma said...

Yes, Sarcastro. I agree with you. Long live the deceased Milkman.
Unfortunately, I only have them on vinyl and I have no turntable.
Dammit.

6:15 PM  
Blogger newscoma said...

Okay Wrecks,
I was asked to ask you if you have ever seen the Trailer Park Boys.
I have no idea why although I like it.

7:19 PM  
Blogger Rex L. Camino said...

I have not, but it looks interesting.

7:39 AM  

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