Echoes of the City (6)

Life… out of the back of a truck


It’s neither uncommon nor unheard of, but it’s also not everyday of the week one happens upon someone who appears to be asleep in their vehicle, be it a car or a truck—it’s obviously harder to sleep in a motorcycle or bicycle. Yet, that’s what happened to me on a Monday in July of 2017, as I started the week.

The woman was well dressed, at least by hipster-millennial standards (and by people-who-live-in-their-car standards as well), and I saw her as she was fashioning her belt and jacket over her somewhat wrinkly white dress—in all honesty it could’ve been a skirt/blouse combo, I did not have the time to properly discern, catalogue and critique her outfit. But the foremost thought in my mind, as I sped by on my way to work, wasn’t necessarily related to what she was wearing, it was: why is she getting dressed out on the street?

As I inched closer to her and the parked small (-ish?) Ford (maybe?) pick-up truck with a camper covering the back, I witnessed a brief glimpse of the answer. Or what I thought the answer was at the very least.

A bed had been fashioned in the covered back of the truck and there appeared to be drawers beneath said bed. The woman was standing by the truck with the back door open and was grooming herself. Ergo, the woman was sleeping in the truck and utilizing it as her abode.

That was my gut instinct…

EOTC6 (3)
Was this the same vehicle?

And though—as I said previously—it’s not everyday that one happens upon someone who’s hiding from the inclemencies of weather in their vehicle, this is still the city, the concrete jungle; and, as we all know by now, the city of angels does face a housing shortage. Well, no, let’s talk about it as adults who speak to children: it’s not necessarily a housing shortage, rather, an affordable housing shortage.

I was reminded of that very same fact the next day of my chance encounter, as I drove through the same streets where not 24 hours ago I had seen a blonde woman getting ready for her day in the middle of the street.

Just like it happens after every local or county-wide election, just like it happens after every national election, and just like it happens whenever there is an officer involved shooting of an unarmed man of color, it boils down to housing: where we live, where we want to live, where we are able to live, where we are allowed to afford a place to live, and multiple variations of the same questions and/or statements.

To some it appears to be a never ending issue/cycle without any viable solution in sight—to the point of some cynically seeing it all as “necessary evils” of modern city life. However, at least to me, the reality should be perceived more along the lines of “if the city and our society have not yet ended and are still evolving, then, how come the issues of society needed to be over yesterday?”.

I admit that I am not a social scientist, nor am I an economist; but I do believe that I have enough common sense to know that if our societal evolution has not yet reached an apex, then that should mean, even if by elimination, that the solutions to our problems as a society have also not reached a cusp point.

That’s what tumbled back and forth in the old brain of mine as I approached the area where I had seen the woman the day before. And as I suspected she was not there to be seen again, but I wasn’t surprised really. After all, this is a giant of a city and more often than not, changes take place one after another like a snowfall: from one minute to the next there is free parking and then there is street cleaning on Tuesdays; there is an ever swelling group of children at a given street light and then the streets are completely deserted; there is a clear path through surface streets and suddenly you are stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic without warning, those are the alchemic reactions of life in a modern city—someone could say, if they wished to add the sweetness of poetry to their life and surrounding events.

EOTC6 (5)
It is said we all want to live…

These changes—and many more which were not aforementioned but seemingly carry the same weight—happen every day, and one usually following the other in rapid succession; but not only in our surroundings, as we have built them through the centuries of human life. These changes also happen in the radio spots we listen to daily, in the programming of our TV’s, and, most importantly, in our livelihoods—work today, fired tomorrow.

So it was in my life as well, that I had been reminded of the conflicts regarding housing and affordable housing one day, the next? I’m hearing about the trials and tribulations of American progressive rock in the late 60s and 70s.

As I continued driving, Tool and the homeless encampments went by, and I thought more and more about it, about the reality of how but by a few cents and the grace of god—if you believe in said entity—it could’ve been myself, or, later, my wife and I who were out on the streets. Thankfully for us, that never came to pass.

But what about all the others who were caught in the snowfall of current events? What about those who weren’t lucky enough to escape the fate of the homeless encampments? Or what about those many individuals with names whom I knew and then were gone? Well, it would seem that the pages of history have to be filled somehow…


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