This was written in March of 2011, when we were trailer park managers in Prunedale, CA...
I think I “get” Leonilda at unit 18.
She reminds me of one of my long lost relations from the hills of Sweetwater, Tennessee.
Perhaps one that would likely slam the cellar door when she saw me comin!
At times, she reminds me of one of the women on the television series, Big Love.
One of the sister-wives that lives out on the compound, wears her hair long, her bonnet tight and has her hands elbow-deep in cannin' apples before winter done hits.
Leonilda doesn’t like me and I understand that.
Last spring, when she called to let me know “someone” was shooting at her because the side of her 1979 mobile had fresh bullet holes in the skirting, I did in fact burst out laughing.
I didn’t mean to.
I was just lacking in the self-control department in that moment.
Then there was the time she called to let me know “someone” had been trespassing in her carport and left a cherry pit in the crack of asphalt near her back door.
She informed me she hadn’t eaten cherries since high school when she got sick on ‘em, so therefore, she knew it had to be a trespasser.
I sent my partner to investigate that situation and she did in fact locate a single cherry pit in the exact location as Leonilda stated it was.
As a trained professional, I know that I need to show restraint, as well as, compassion but as the years roll on, I find it a bit of a challenge.
And Leonilda knows it. She ain’t no dummie.
She can hear it in my voice, see it in my eyes and that’s exactly why the other night when she phoned and I answered, she immediately asked for my partner. She don't want to talk with me anymore!
I put on my sweet, soft-toned, sympathetic voice and offered my assistance and willingness
to meet her every need. After all, isn't that what I get paid for?
She asks if we had received a package in the mail that belonged to her.
I told her that I hadn’t checked the mail today but I would go right out, check and bring any mail that belonged to her, right down. Mind you, Leonilda and her brother, Leo (No lie, that's his real name) don’t live next door to us. They actually live on the other side of the park, so why we'd have her mail is beyond me, but I question nothing.
She informs me that it wouldn’t have been in today’s mail. “Someone” took it a month ago.
(RIGHT, LEONILDA! LIKE I HAVE BEEN HOARDING A PACKAGE OF YOURS FOR 30 ‘EFFIN DAYS! OR THIS "MYSTERY SOMEONE" IS OUT TO GET YOU, YOU PARANOID WEIRDO!)
Breathe in. Breathe out.
After a mini-Zen-breathing exercise, I find my polite button, press it, and tell her that I haven’t seen any mail of hers, but if there was a tracking number, perhaps the post office could attempt to locate it for her. But Leonilda feels quite strongly that our postal service does not lose packages and that “someone” either stole it or is holding it.
Hostage I suppose.
Holding it hostage for some kind of trailer treasure ransom that I’m sure will allow us all to buy Boardwalk AND Park Avenue, maybe even all four railroads.
My partner’s jaw never clinches like mine in these situations.
I remember one late afternoon last summer, I phoned Leonilda because I received a call from one of her neighbors reporting she was getting ready to spray paint her mobile with a small hand-held sprayer, not an industrial. The neighbor was concerned the paint would get on his unit.
Before I could explain the rules with regard to painting the trailers at our park, she asked me this, “Can you please call back later… I’m drunk right now.”
That's when I "got" Leonilda.
I actually clung to a tiny, thin thread of commonality in that moment.
I wished her a relaxing afternoon, hung up the phone and poured myself a strong one.
It doesn’t get any better than this, people.