So the trailer park’s pissed at us. Yep, the whole park.
Okay, let me rephrase: the trailer park’s pissed at me. Allow me to give credit where it’s due.
See, we’re parked on the edge of the so-called overnite park, which just happens to be on the other side of the street – more like dirt road – from an actual trailer park.
So imagine big tin can, six-or-so feet of grass, dirt road then trailers. We’re talking actual trailers, with the sheet-metal skirt wrapped around to cover the wheels and flower pots on the big iron front hitch.
Eighteen wheeler-sized trailers. Extended clan-sized trailers with porches all crammed in one-by-one as far as the eye can see.
For some reason unbeknownst to us, the bus stop for the entire park happened to be smack dab on our little patch of grass.
Which means, after falling into fitful sleep at 3 a.m. following a harrowing all-night drive from Delaware, I was awoken five hours later by the sound of teenagers.
Seriously. Chatting, laughing, running around in apparent excitement at the prospect of another day spent in school. I don’t get it, don’t ask me why. I was always miserable at that time of the morning, the thought of actually having to be alert at any point between midnight and 11 a.m. inhuman, as far as I was concerned.
But these rascals seemed to not only relish the thought, but possessed a keen desire to share this excitement with the world.
My world, small though it may be.
So, as I awoke to the sound of the dog making her intruder bark – “Hruff! Hruff! Ruff-ruff-ruff!” – I did my best to comprehend what the racket was about. It sounded like they were inside. Had H. invited them in on some insomnia-fueled whim?
Peeking through the blinds, I immediately shot back at the sight of a head – a living, human, teenage head – mere inches from my own.
Then another! Both moving, animatedly, and talking to each other as they … leaned against my trailer!
They were literally standing on the other side of my very thin wall, dozens of them, for all purposes in the same room as me. I was aghast, and immediately closed the blinds before they got sight of my sleep-deprived, Medusa-like appearance and began screaming in horror along with me.
I peeked through the rear window, catching sight of two more, standing atop a stump and … oh my god … my septic line! One of them was fiddling with the electric line. I couldn’t decide if it would be better to let him electrocute himself or run out there to stop him before his demise cut off all our power. That would mean no coffee.
This pair was obviously the outcasts. Nerds, really. I tried to feel bad for them, but the vision of unruly, gangly teens attempting to run for the bus, tripping over the frozen and thus brittle septic line and breaking it beneath their feet was too much. I couldn’t afford to replace it, and I doubted their parents would be amenable to such a request.
So I threw on my coat, donned a hat and slammed my feet into my boots, rushing out the door in full fury. Not only had they awoken me, but they were messing with the few items I actually owned, gross as some of them may be.
“Hey! Get away from there!” I growled after swinging open the camper door and trudging over to them. “You’re leaning up against my hook-ups, including my shit hose! You need to move.”
They just stared at me. Were they developmentally disabled? Deaf? ESL? I couldn’t decide. I just knew I needed them to haul ass away from my precious lines.
“Excuse me, you need to move … now! You,” I looked at the smaller one, who was most dangerously close to the septic. “Move. Now.”
“Don’t talk to my brother like that,” the older one finally chimed in, his voice dull from, I’m guessing, years of teasing and torture at the hands of his fellow students, most of whom were beginning to move away from the trailer at the sound of my crazy a.m. fury.
“Excuse me?” I was incredulous.
“Please don’t talk to my brother like that.”
“Well, I wouldn’t have to if he wasn’t standing on my lines. How would you feel if I came over to your house and started standing on your stuff?”
“I wouldn’t care.”
Good lord. How is it they could not only have zero respect for their own things, as well as someone else’s?
I do not understand children. I am old enough to be their mother, yet I just can’t figure the bastards out. I guess that comes with not actually raising any nor spending time with any. I took a deep breath, and tried again.
“I’m sorry you feel that way, but you need to get away from here, and over toward that road now! Leave my hoses, and my electric box, alone!”
Then I had to walk away. I was fighting a losing battle. I could totally empathise with the kid, I knew how he felt, how every inch of him said to act nonchalant and be an asshole. It’s the teenage way. I’ve been there, and I knew that no matter what I said, it’d fall on deaf ears.
So I got on the phone.
“What?! Those kids need to stay off my property! One of ‘ems likely to get zapped, then I’ll be liable!” was the overnite park owner’s response. I breathed a sigh of relief.
Because here in rural Virginia, just like any other rural area, the best way to tackle a problem when you’re an outsider is to get someone whose family’s been there for generations to care. And that was the owner whose family, apparently, used to own the entire mountain, along with the land the trailer park’s now on.
The next day he showed up, giant “No Trespassing” signs in the back of his pickup. He pounded them into the ground, and told me he’d called the school board and gotten the bus stop moved.
Which is why the entire park’s pissed at me. No matter that he did the calling and made things happen, I’m the one who screamed at their precious kids.
If I’d done something like that as a kid, there would’ve been hell to pay, stat. No waiting, no phone calls, but me, taken by the ear to my parents or grandparents.
But then again, I wasn’t raised in a time when children were a commodity more precious than gold, and discipline was the new four-letter word.
I’d love to have ESP with all parents, to try and explain that disciplining your children, setting boundaries and teaching them to respect themselves and others, is good for everyone.
Because it’s impossible to have empathy and understanding with others when you’ve been taught, from day one, that you’re more important than anyone and anything else.
Because eventually, they’re going to find out they’re not.