Neighbors: Wired for Sound & Built for Speed

As a result of a slight “oversight” on my part, I was recently given the privilege of packing up all of our belongings and relocating to a New Neighborhood . The “oversight” occurred when I took a landlord at his WORD. Meaning, 6 months ago, when I saw a FOR RENT sign posted in the front yard of a townhouse (multiple family dwelling) in a “relatively quiet” neighborhood, which was also closer to my place of employment and within my family’s “price range”, AND subsequently decided this was a “stellar opportunity” – I was DEAD WRONG. I assumed the sign meant, “We cordially invite anyone that needs a place to live in a ‘subdued locale’, closer to your job, and in line with your current household budget , to sign a piece of paper enabling you to pay the owner of this property for that Convenience.” . . . Am I crazy, or does that sound like a reasonable assumption? Okay, one thing at a time. I think I DID have the right to “assume” that by giving the Owner of the property the money required to stay in the apartment, I would be able to do so and still consider this my place of residence. . . DEAD WRONG. As far as the “crazy” question? . . . I don’t have any “formal documentation” stating I AM or anything. It seems where I went wrong in my dealings with the Owner, was in thinking he actually “OWNED” the property. Honest mistake. I mean, the other tenants in this townhome/apartment/CRAPSHACK, had all been paying him to call this place HOME, for quite some time. When he asked that I deposit the “rent” in a bank account, because he lived in a town a few “hours” from here, I thought, “Well, that’s easy enough, I guess”.

Okay, I’m not “crazy”, I’m an IDIOT. Did he own the property? Yes. Well, at least he did when we moved in. . . How long that remained the case after we moved in, is somewhat of a mystery and a point of conjecture, contention and unbridled Fury around my “New Digs” . Which is EXACTLY where I find myself RIGHT NOW. Not THERE. . . HERE. Because, the thing my “landlord” failed to mention when I signed my Rental Agreement, was that the REAL OWNER of the property, THE BANK, was foreclosing on the property. As a result, over the last few months I had been depositing the “Rent” in his youngest daughter’s, “Goin’ Clubbin’ in San Fran Fund” . He had absolutely NO intention of telling me, my wife or any of my children, that we were going to be “Kicked to the Curb”. We accidentally found out when a notice was posted on the door, by a wonderfully “chipper” and upbeat Sheriff, stating the Property was going to be going up for PUBLIC AUCTION. I don’t know, maybe it’s just me, but that set off some “Red Lights”. . . Told you I wasn’t “Crazy”. The next few weeks were spent playing “Phone Tag” with his youngest daughter, who he had NOW assigned to all of his “business dealings”. She was hard to corner. I think I talked to her for about 5 seconds once, when she accidentally picked up the call while snorting the “July Rent” off of the hood of her “newly-leased” Volvo. Since they lived “hours away”(now a very ‘convenient’ location for he and his family’s future well-being) I had to suck it up and call it “Water Under the Bridge”. Personally, I think it is a lot like the water under the bridge in say. . . Venice, Italy. Full of crap and raw sewage, unpleasant to everyone (except tourists) and more of an inconvenience than it’s worth. But just like the water under the bridge in Venice, maybe this “water” is necessary to “get somewhere”. Just like they say, “Things Aren’t Always What They Seem”. . .
Just like the movies The Amityville Horror , Poltergeist or even Funny Farm , there were a pattern of occurrences, set in motion early on, that should have “tipped me off”. . . “Dan you’re NOT CRAZY. . . You’re an IDIOT”. I have a History of poor decision-making skills when it comes to picking out a suitable domicile. But when your net household income is slightly above that of the “grocery cart-pushing crew” , who like to use every single front yard we have ever had as their personal “parking garage”. . . No Lie; your options are “limited”. We’ve got carts from just about every store within a 10 mile radius at our curb. If I wanted to open a Used Cart Lot, I’d make . . . well a little over 3 bucks, I’m sure. As it stands, the stores that OWN the carts send out various “Cart Retrieval Personnel” who make pretty quick work of it, every Monday afternoon. Don’t know why they pick Monday. . . Wait, yes I do. . . Tuesday is “Recycle Day” and Wednesday is “Trash Day”. They probably have a deal with the “Refuse Removal Technicians” to have the curb clear so they can scatter our Trash over a much larger area with errant Refuse-Removal Truck Maneuvering . This allows the “Street Sweeper Technicians” to blow the trash up into our yard on “Street Sweeper Day” (Fridays). Just in time for “I Didn’t Have Anything Better Going on than To Pick up a Block’s Worth of Trash from my Yard On the Weekend” (Saturdays and sometimes Sundays) This sets up our “neighbors” for their Weekend Shopping Excursions. “Hey kids, Jump in a Cart, We’re goin’ Shoppin’!” Then we get to watch like “Shopping Cart Valets” ’til the Garage” reaches capacity around 9AM Monday Morning. All in all, we stay busy. “You can’t park that cart here!”, I’ll say forcefully. “Is that YOUR car?” they respond. . . “Nevermind,” I cower.
All Seriousness Aside. . .
In order that you might have a better understanding of the trials and travails of me and my“Beleaguered Bunch” , I think it best if I share with you some of the choices that we have made in dwellings over the past few years. Keep in mind that we also live in BAKERSFIELD, CALIFORNIA. That alone, sets us back about 50 years and 100 IQ points. I’m telling you this town is FILLED TO THE BRIM with “Vacuous Shells of What Might Have Been Humans. . . at Some Point”. This City (and there truly IS no legitimate term for “Mecca of the Damned”) robs you of any Potential Joy, Dreams or Aspirations, that some might view as “God-given Rights” in any other community. Some might say, “Why don’t you just MOVE?” Easier said than done. This place also has an odd “Black Hole Vortex” thingy going on too. But before I wander too far off course, here’s some of the “lowlights” in the place we’ve called . . . (sigh). . . “Home”. . .
We are what you would call “Economically-Challenged” (poor). I have never had money. I didn’t come from money. I never accumulated riches or wealth (other than my understanding and knowledge-and that doesn’t buy my daughter any Happy Meals at “McBurgers”). My wife didn’t come from money either. To be honest, I don’t know what we would DO if we HAD money. Say, “Thanks”, I guess. But I AM willing to give it a try. . . Because the whole “Not Having Money” thing has been “Done to Death” around our place. But, here we are. I thought it would be “neat” (depressing) to take a look at where we’ve been. . . and where we’re headed. . .

The “Green” House –
That’s where my wife and 3 of my 4 kids lived about 7 years ago (my wife became pregnant a year later-yes, with my child). When I moved in, it was into a GI-style housing unit in Oildale (a “barrio” of Bakersfield – known for its quaint older neighborhoods and a Rabid Arian charm ). It is also where I became familiar with what is known as . . . “The Tweaker” . A group of individuals who use Methamphetamines. When I say “use”, I mean USE. It is actually quite scary, and I’m pretty sure that I’ve heard that Bakersfield is like the Capital of “Crystal Meth” in California. . . I don’t know if they get that information when they do the Census, or what. But ALL of our Neighbors were “amped” ALL the time. . . Actually, they slept all DAY, but at Night, the streets of Oildale were teaming with the “Meth-Head Undead”. It was like Tweaker Zombie Heaven . I don’t know what these people did at night, but they kept “busy”. We would stay inside, peering out of the peephole in the door until the sounds “went away”. This is also when I became aware of the Megan’s Law Website. Wow. . . The first time we searched our neighborhood in its database, I thought we were going to wipe out a “Grid” like on Ghostbusters or SO overtax the system, that we’d have Federal Agents breaking down our doors to see how we were able to raise the Nation’s Terror Alert manually from a Home PC.

The “Lake” House –
My wife had lived her ENTIRE life in “Bako”, and as a result, we thought we’d “switch things up” by moving OUT of Bakersfield for a while. We spent the nest 3 plus years in a “town” about 45 miles from here. It was near a Lake-Side community in the mountains. It was picturesque. . . it was HELL. We had only accomplished finding the exact same Oildale community living in the HILLS. Tweakers were more rampant here than in Bakersfield. The only difference? This time they had Roscoe and Enos trying to regulate their evening “Activities”. The area was also popular for retiring LAPD Drug Enforcement Officers who apparently had ONE HELLUVA PENSION. I can’t imagine “How” they could have come across all the money it took to build their Million Dollar Estates about 20 minutes away from the “White South-Central of the Golden Empire”. (They call this area the Golden Empire. . . I guess to “soften” the blow). I worked at a Hardware Store (about the only gig in town). And as many of you know, I’m not mechanically inclined. I was placed in charge of “Lumber Movement” . This essentially consisted of me moving various boards to different areas of the store and occasionally to customer’s cars. Eventually, I took over sporting goods. (2 aisles of balls, water toys and coolers). By the time we moved, I was working with patio furniture and propane. (not simultaneously) But Hank Hill would have been proud. Did I mention I hate Rednecks? As far as the Neighborhood went: We had a Neighbor who was the combination of Fred Sanford and Ned Flanders on the Simpsons. He sold Antique” Travel Trailers that he purchased on Ebay and had a wife that was INSANE. . .We would often hear them arguing about “God”. I never saw him go to “Church”. I think they bought their God on Ebay too. We also lived down the street from a Biker Bar called “Smugglers”. I liked to call it a Gay Biker Bar called “Snugglins”, but I didn’t do that anywhere near the actual establishment. Right behind us was the “Shady Pines Trailer Park and RV Cemetary”. The couple that managed the site, also fought constantly about various things VERY LOUDLY. The fights would typically end with him taking off in his truck, when she came outside brandishing a shotgun. The sheriff assured us it wasn’t “loaded”, but I never really knew for sure. When my youngest child arrived, we stayed “inside” most of the time. But whenever I drove by “Snugglins” , I’d see the neighbor’s truck and the Sheriff’s car. . . Hmm. Though we had about an acre of land, we thought it best to “stay close to one another”. . . Especially when “Donnie” (the Head Tweaker in the area)decided blowing up his trailer across the street while “cooking up a batch” was somehow a GOOD idea. Eventually we had seen enough of the Lake (we went to the actual “lake” about 6 times while living there), and decided we’d head back to our “comfort zone”. . . Bakersfield.

Her “Mom’s” House –
Brief stint, ending with me in the Hospital with “stomach problems” and lasting about a month. (the living there part, I STILL have stomach problems – more than likely, unrelated)

The “Apartment’ –
Probably the “Biggest Cast of Characters” of any of our sojourns, this place had it ALL. We lived in a 2 bedroom apartment (keep in mind there are 6 of us – No it’s NOT legal. We always had an Anne Frank thing going on with our oldest son) We had Laundry “facilities”. We were back in “the ‘Dale”! So there were Oilfield Workers sharing our washers and dryers. This quite often led to our clothes having large black stains on them and my older daughter going to school crying, because some neanderthal’s “work rag” was caught in a lint trap and ruined her “skinny jeans” . We were also introduced to two elderly gentleman, who typified why “Megan’s Law” was enacted. First there was “Diaper Man”. A man who would sit outside of his apartment in his “Depend Undergarments” . This was convenient for us, because for our “viewing pleasure”, he would quite often not “fasten” the adhesive very well and “Slick Willy”,would make a surprise appearance. Since his apartment was between ours and the Laundry room, we were treated to this “Eye Candy” quite regularly. . . There was also “Dried and Crusty Dude”. He was an old pervert that lived across from our apartment and found the need to stare at my wife and the kids every time they were outside of our apartment. (We kept the blinds “SUPER-Closed” while inside). For the record, he (Dried & Crusty) never approached any of them; if he had, I would be writing this from jail. Then there were the downstairs neighbors: VERY LOUD Meth Dealers , who had their weapons, drugs and prostitutes in and out of their apartment at ALL hours. Day AND night. They “Tweaked” in shifts. I guess it was more profitable that way. There were the next door neighbors with two ADHD Kids . LOUD. The wife outweighed the husband by about 300 pounds , yet through some feat of Herculian Strength , he was still able to bounce her off of every “common” wall in that place. (common walls, for those who’ve never had the pleasure, are paper thin walls “dividing” cheap-ass rooms- Like in a Motel 6 ) There was the older man and his mother living downstairs, whom I hadn’t seen in nearly a week and when I reported it to the Management, found out his mother had been out of town and he had been dead for about 3 days. That’s a smell that doesn’t go away. There were also the homeless people sleeping in the bushes and shrubs surrounding some of the empty apartment buildings in our “complex”. I also understand why they call them that. Not homeless people. That’s pretty easy to figure out. I mean people with a “complex”. We have had a “COMPLEX” ever since we lived there. “What are they doing?” or “What’s HE up to?”. . . nice. . . Oh, I mustn’t forget the fact that we had to go without Hot Water about every other week, because of what Management called, “Old Pipes” . As soon as we could afford it, we soon said GOODBYE to this place as well. . .

I’ve ALREADY told you about our latest “mini-disaster” . Which leads me to this. . .

Back to the ‘Dale!

We’re back in Oildale. In a “cute” little cubby of a Neighborhood. They even take their Christmas lights down here during Non-Christmas Celebratory Time Periods. We are between 3 interesting areas. A Railroad, an Airport and Highway 99. I’m too worried to look up the Megan’s Law site right now. It’s difficult to tell if its going to be a good move or a bad one. . . just yet. I do find a large number of “grown men” riding bicycles, which means they are (a) too poor to own a vehicle (b) unable to “legally” drive a vehicle (c) getting some exercise and saving the planet. I’ll let you choose. . . I saw one yesterday riding his bike , while holding another one at his side and steering it. “Oildale Tow Truck” ? But the evenings DO offer Motorcycle racing. People come from wealthy parts of town to race on our street. I guess we have the “Best Quarter-Mile Flat track in all of Kern County” (I don’t know what that really means) The nights so far have been relatively “quiet”. But I have a feeling that we haven’t gotten the “Full-On Welcome Wagon” treatment yet. I’m waiting for the guy next door, with the RV in his yard parked on years of dead grass and the Z-28 up on blocks to start working on it at 3 in the morning while listening to “Death Metal” at “Volume Setting Eleven” . Tweakers have to stay “busy”,apparently, and they enjoy LOUD. I’m telling you, you haven’t “arrived” in “Bako’ “ until you get a load of these guys. . . New Neighbors: Wired for Sound and Built for “Speed” . . .

‘Til Later. . . Go Figg’r! (awesome new theme song)

Peace Out – Later

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