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The Stick

2018 Summer Memories

Of all of the implements that pried me out of Suburbia and into the Country, none was more effective than The Stick. Dear Husband refers to the object as The Board, which makes the entire chain-reaction sound ominous!

During the summer of 1997, I awoke early one morning in my overly sunny southern-exposure bedroom to the sight of a man peering over my back-yard fence, through a large window into my room. It wasn’t just any man, and it certainly wasn’t Sean Connery. It was, in fact, an illegal immigrant who had been working on “construction” without proper permitting (in the suburbs, of all places!) of a back-yard menagerie for the 2-story house located directly behind my single-story house.

I got out of bed, opened the slider, and confronted the man. He of course could not speak English, but I could, with hand signals, attached to a tone of voice that meant trouble for him. He vanished from atop the fence where he’d been somewhat perched, using a board to try to retrieve something in my yard.

A little while later, I called Dear Husband at his office in Sacramento to inform him of the disgusting incident. And I told him that there was a stick, a 2x4 that I’d retrieved from the fence line that separated our house from the adjoining house, which happened to be the most extravagant model in the subdivision. This man had been attempting to get a hold of the 2x4 with another board.

The homeowners of this house were rumored to be a South American couple. They lived there along with an elderly woman, whom I took to be a Mother-in-Law. The absentee Husband was a lawyer who commuted by plane to work in Los Angeles, a distance of about 400 miles from this suburban town.

Once a week, in the morning, I saw and heard the Wife beating rugs off of the second-story deck, working up a lather. This woman would then go inside the house, call her husband and yell at him in Spanish, LONG-DISTANCE, all the way to Los Angeles.

A long-distance telephone call to Los Angeles was not cheap in those days. The cost of a phone call from Home to Dear Husband in the Office in Sacramento — on a rural land-line — it really added up for the Roseville Telephone Company! The benefits were all part of the Rural Electrification Act of 1936!!

My monthly phone bill consisted of pages and pages of print-outs of call logs, local and long-distance. In terms of dollars, Long-Distance always out-paced Local. It was cheaper for me to drive down to Sacramento and deliver my message to Dear Husband in person!

Alas, this method was not practical for this married South American couple. The phone conversation between this husband and his wife usually ended with one question, a demand that she screamed in English (perhaps to elude the language ears of the Mother-in-Law):

“Are you with HER?!”

One morning, I finally had to explain to my children the delicate situation living behind us.

The homeowners of this deluxe house had hired a crew of workers to build a gazebo. The gazebo would be joining several other undocumented wooden structures that had begun to pile up behind my dog-eared fence, the “privacy” border that is mandatory between houses in any California suburb.

On that morning, the hired help had accidentally dropped the Stick over the fence, because he was so close to the property line, peering over that fence into my bedroom. He and his crew were working the few hours-a-day shift that was supposed to be the entire day. For weeks, the raucous radio noise informed me of the comings-and-goings of this loud party of workers, partying more than working.

Amidst the noise and the annoyance, I tended to my young children who were “home” for a brief summer break from the public school atrocity known as “year-round-schooling”.  I was about six months away from the start of home-schooling.

I came out of my bedroom that morning and went straight to the family room. My two young chicks, the Early Birds, were there, building a tower with Waffle Blocks (the small ones). I informed my offspring that their mother had to deal with an illegal immigrant in the back yard.

I then called the local police department and gave them all of the information pertinent to this situation. The Black-and-White arrived fairly quickly at the house behind my house. The police officer then drove around the curvilinear block to my house. He came to my front door and rang the doorbell. I opened the door. I was then asked my name and was asked to step outside. Something told me that I was suddenly in trouble.

It turned out the illegal immigrant wanted his stick back. The police officer politely asked me to give it back to him. I refused. This agent of law enforcement simply stared at me.

I then informed him of the shenanigans going on behind my house. He informed me that those activities were not in his jurisdiction. But the theft (THEFT) of that 2x4 was in his jurisdiction.

I countered that I did not steal the stick. It landed on my property while the worker was peering over the fence into my bedroom window. I confronted the intruder back over his fence line, took the stick and was now in possession of it.

To make a very lengthy discussion short, I will state that I was threatened with the arrest for the theft of someone else’s property. I told the officer that he would have to prove that the stick did not belong to me. It was the word of the illegal immigrant against mine. I restrained myself from saying that possession is 9/10 of the law (a phrase which is, by the way, of Scottish origin).

The police officer asked me if I wanted to pursue this matter in court. I asked him why those people who owned the house behind me were hiring illegal workers who partied all day and, for all I knew, had committed crimes.

I’m raising two young children in this house. And now I’m being threatened with an arrest because of a stick that fell into my back yard because of a peeping creep looking over the fence into my bedroom window. If the guy hadn’t been snooping on his ladder, to get a better glimpse into my bedroom, he’d still have his stick!

The police officer (1) suggested that I move to the foothills like he did; and (2) offered to mediate between the hired hand and me over the stick.

I weighed both options and found the first one enticingly do-able, far more preferable than the latter option. The gendarme said that I’d have to put up with the sounds of roosters in the morning, but not the blatant noise of these people in the suburbs. (That is, until the Subprime Construction of the 2000s began outside my house in the Country!)

“Now will you please give the stick back to the worker?” The police officer asked me.

I gave the question a minute’s thought. I then told the Man with the Star that I’d be right back. I walked into the house and then into the attached garage and got the Stick. As I handed it to the lawman, I said nothing. He thanked me and left.

The entire neighborhood dispersed from the vicinity of my house.

Dear Husband’s Day-at-the-Office was less eventful than another day for me in paradise, the suburban cul-de-sac that not only watched and heard the noise and the shouting and the low-class arguments that habitually went on in that deluxe house behind my house. Those spineless creatures finally took a position on my actions that day.

They shunned me.

They sided with the South Americans living in the two-story house. You see, the workers-of-questionable-origin-and-pay-arrangement did not show up for their “jobs” after that day. And I was harshly judged for my treatment of people who had no intention of playing by any rules, in suburbia or elsewhere.

I’d already been deemed persona non grata, an uncouth hick, for not abiding by the CC&R’s because I parked my old truck in front of my tract home — my beloved 1965 Ford F-100, a green one, from Hattiesburg, Mississippi. Now I was intolerant of a few rules being broken by wealthy people.

The defining deviancy down within Suburbia always took on an other-worldly sensibility for me. Not quite double-speak, the attitudes were expressed by an airhead argot that presumed if everyone agreed to the CC&R’s and didn’t make any waves in this sea of suburban sameness, nothing could ever go wrong!

I recently read about the people who feel victimized by all of those trade deals in the 1990s that proved to be harmful-to-Americans, the set-ups they’d so enthusiastically wanted back then.

Many of those Woe-is-I Americans were those mushy-middle voters, the ones who were so above it all, the ones who voted for Clinton (twice) and, the truly sanctimonious ones, for Perot. They were the Americans who would’t judge, the ones who wanted everyone to get along, the ones who called anyone with a firm opinion “judgmental,” the ones who called anyone with a really firm opinion “mean-spirited.”

Those Americans were the ones who were thought Clinton was great, even if he was a pervert. Those Americans were the ones who ate up every piece of hooey custom-catered to them, because there was something in it for them, but not necessarily for the country. They were the ones who told me, “I voted for the person who will hurt me the least.” To hell with the country!

They were the ones who deemed themselves morally superior because they CARED. As one elitist suburban opportunist told me, “It’s not that Debra’s not compassionate: She just doesn’t care!”

Compassion was being sold to voters in Home Depot Homer buckets! We’re all still paying the price for that con job by the con-artists, the Politicians.

Those Americans went along with the prevailing political winds because they believed, that way, they’d get the better deal than Someone Else was getting, especially the Someone Else’s who were doing better than they. What a peasant attitude for hit-the-jackpot Americans who didn’t know jack about how to play the very mean game of gotcha, the backroom deals of politics.

Why, they just wanted to even the playing field! Here’s some advice: Any time you want to even the playing field, be sure you’re not the one that gets leveled.

Get-even-with-‘em was the zeitgeist of the 1990s and those people were rolling with that flow. It appears the flow on that field nearly drowned them! Electricity takes the path of least resistance, but I’d hardly call these people electric. In fact, they stopped the flow of progress in this nation for many years.

So, whenever I read about how horrible it is now that their children don’t have the chances they were supposed to have in America, because of foreign-born workers, those illegal immigrants that first started crawling all over suburbia in the 1990s to do the jobs teen-agers used to do in the summer: I do not shed one tear for those self-serving hypocrites.

I do feel sad for their adult children, but I also feel hopeful that some of those young adults might get a grip on reality, the way their parents never did with their amoeba-like greed. Those Americans of the don’t-worry-be-happy ’90’s are presently unhappy because they bankrupted the futures of their children. Maybe they need a stick so they can start to build a fence and take a firm stance on the middle of it!