Thursday, June 30, 2011

Gun Racks and Bowls of Hard Candy


There are rules and regulations for governing modular home parks.
They are established and set forth by a handful of state institutions whose employees do not and have not ever lived in a trailer park.
I learned about these “regs,” as we say in the business, when I attended the mandatory quarterly Western Manufactured Housing Communities Association held at the Holiday Inn in San Jose Ca.
I’d drag my reluctant ass out of bed, throw on some kind of liberal, hippie outfit complete with baggie khaki’s, a tee-shirt screen printed with Kwan Yin on the chest and a peace scarf wrapped around my neck just to make ‘em all squirm.
I’d head into the traffic of the 101 by 7:30 am.
One must get an early start in order to obtain a back row seat
and a back row seat is essential to being able to breathe, take potty breaks without being noticed, steal all the Tazo tea bags, and be first in the line
that forms promptly at noon for the lunch buffet.
The WMA keeps all park owners and managers comfortably current
in the latest laws, safety issues, codes, violations and general information applicable to maintaining the good manufactured life.
The large conference room is always set-up in the same way: rows of long tables
equipped with the most butt-hurting chairs, an abundance of WMA pens and notepads, an outline of the day’s agenda, pitchers of ice water and bowls of stale, multi-colored hard candy.
The elite group of enthusiastic trailer park managers
crowds the conference room and fills the seats in what quickly becomes
Deliverance meets Larry the Cable Guy. They all know each other, mingle, compare and contrast situations and although these stories
might be concrete capers to you and I, those damn managers
take the job very seriously. They stuff their faces with the complimentary buffet lunch, bitch about the ever-changing septic laws, throw in an occasional fishing or hunting trip story or talk about their favorite “soaps.” And they all stare at me. They all stare at me with the identical look that says,
“Who the f**#@ is she and where the f**#@ did she come from?”
There’s the lady in the flower print, polyester blend pantsuit who wears her hair on top of her head like Pebbles, there’s Shirl in row two who sells See’s Candy at every break (and actually has a line form), and Dale who never removes
his name tag and reeks of stale cigarettes and cheap after-shave.
Most of the guys have gun racks in the back of their pickups; just give them
a flip-top can of the cheapest beer and a low-brow movie that takes place
in the southern United States loaded with brawls, bullets, booze,
and scantily-clad babes and they’re happy.
They love the Chicken Kiev at the buffet because they’re used to Chicken McNuggets and they love dining together because they’re used to dining alone.
For me, it’s the longest lunch hour in the history of time, hence the reason I’ve always sat in the back row: first in the buffet line means first to find a corner table with only 1 chair and first to exit at 4:00 p.m.

Then there’s Kristie, the manager in accounts payable at the main office,
who always sits in the front row and wears both her skirt and her stilettos
a bit too high for my taste, although Dale doesn’t seem to mind.
Kristie moves through the room like a gazelle moves through an African grassland and gives off the aura, “I’m management and I live in a nice, upscale neighborhood lined with wisteria and bougainvillea hedges and not a trailer park.”

I see them all as people just waiting, still waiting for that second chance; the one that will make it all worth it at the end of the day. Waiting for that lucky lotto ticket so they can finally buy that timeshare in Puerto Vallarta or that black Rolls Royce they’ve wanted since their early 20’s or Kristie waiting for that promotion that will move her up on some important ladder…

I miss those meetings, yes in Dee Dee.


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