Even after six years there are times when I look around and ask, “Are you kidding me?” I suppose boredom would be worse. I wouldn’t know. I’ve got no experience with boredom.
When you live in a single-wide mobile home space becomes really important. Use it wisely because it’s limited. When you can gain some space, it becomes amazing. We have a 10×12 deck on the front of the home and a 24×16 deck on the back. They’re both covered. They are amazing. We practically live on our decks. When friends stop by, we immediately go to a deck. Marty has his pellet grill on the big deck and he is in Man Heaven grilling out on his deck.
Most of the friends we have in the neighborhood also work for the property management company so we have a pretty tight community. We live together, we work together, we hang together.
We go on missions together.
I’m not even sure of the exact moment when the Secret Squirrel Society was officially born but trust me… it’s a thing. We scope. We investigate. UHaul appearing in a driveway? We send up the Squirrel Signal and scope it. Door wide open at a vacant home? We are on it. We Squirrel Patrol sixteen different communities so we stay pretty busy. Imagine how we felt when we got word that something nefarious was going down in our own neighborhood!
We got a report that someone had broken into a car just around the corner, and things had been taken from the vehicle. One window was broken. Random, right? Sure, random until another car on the same street gets pilfered. And then another just one street up. Creeping closer to my home, by the way. One of the pilfered vehicles was right across the street.
Okay, the one across the street I didn’t feel too badly about. Those folks need a little more chlorine in their gene pool. More about them another day.
The Secret Squirrel Society started patrolling. We started taking walks around the whole park with our dogs – a pattern was starting to form. The break-ins seemed to be occurring around 10:00 at night. We took our lightsabers with us (yeah, the plastic ones from the Dollar General…) so we’d be visible while on patrol. Sometimes just knowing you are being surveilled is enough to discourage the casual thief.
Then, the unthinkable happened. Meghan was parked at her brother’s home, right next door to us and was visiting with him. It was about 9:45 PM when she exited the trailer and saw the dome light on in her van. The dome light that comes on when the door is open. When the door is open and someone is rifling through your center console. She yelled and the perp bolted. The running footsteps sounded very heavy to her, and she could determine the general direction in which he fled on foot. So, definitely a member of the community. A fat one. She called the police and reported in to the Society. We started to give the hairy eyeball to anyone in the neighborhood who carried some extra weight but would still be able to run.
The Secret Squirrels met on our front deck just a night or two later, and lingered outside until about 10:00 PM. We were talking quietly when someone spotted a shadowy figure moving, just across the street in the field behind the homes. “Nate! Secret Squirrel!” I whispered urgently, motioning to the young man seated across from me. He jumped to his feet and very quietly started shadowing the shadowy figure, right to the driveway across the street. When the figure started trying to get into a neighbor’s vehicle, Nate bellowed, “HEY!” and the fat kid took off running – back across the field towards a trailer on the lower row – right under the security lights, in the direction of his own home.
“RUN, you fat bastard!” I yelled. “We see you!”
The cops were called and directed to the home he had run right into. Why they didn’t take him I have no idea. Maybe it’s because he was underage. Maybe it was because he has a record as long as my arm and a social worker is involved with his family. In reviewing the application the family originally put in for tenancy it was clear that it was not in their plan for this particular child to be residing with them.
So, with it pretty clear that the law wasn’t going to step in and remove the person from the home, our office called a meeting with the parents, and the Sticky Fingered kid himself. My own personal thought – which I did not leave unexpressed – was just to file for eviction. Cut the cancer right out. However, the company is more compassionate than I am. They chose to give the young man a chance to turn around and work off reimbursing the neighbors he had stolen from. My husband, who is a maintenance worker for the company offered to supervise this work.
So, for the next few weeks Marty went to the Sticky Fingers home and dragged the stupid kid out of bed every morning – yes, one morning he actually dumped a bucket of water on the little darling’s head to get him up – and took him out to do hard days of labor to make restitution. He cleaned out disgusting refrigerators in vacant homes. He hauled lumber in the summer heat. One of our office workers took him by his little hand and walked him around the neighborhood to apologize to the people he stole from.
All stuff his PARENTS should have been doing, but that’s apparently just not the kind of world we live in anymore.
A few months later I wound up sitting in eviction court with his parents, anyway. Police activity continued down at their home and then they decided they didn’t want to pay their rent. The father told the judge that they’d moved to our community to try to “sanitize the environment” for their little angel, because of course it wasn’t HIS fault he was always in trouble, it must be the environment. I assured the judge the environment HAD been pretty sanitary until they’d showed up.
And with the decree for them to GET OUT issued, the case of Sticky Fingers was closed by the Secret Squirrel Society.