Home in 'Fallbrook the Friendly Village'

By Kit-Bacon Gressitt

homeless in fallbrook the friendly village

 

“Peligro,” I said. “La mujer fotografia tu auto.”

It was pitiful Spanish—I really need to learn the language—but it was my best, and I wasn’t convinced it was the right thing to do, but I did it anyway.

It all started with my early morning walk, accompanied by my not-quite-right dog and my quite-all-right neighbor.

We walk four or five days a week, enjoying the Fallbrook flora and fauna—a great blue heron family has been nesting in one of our taller trees. While the cloud formations waltz over the mountains to the north and east, we find a little political common ground in our conversation and commit, yet again, to avoid late-night snacks, a problem of the privileged.

This morning, we were halfway into a good sweat when another regular dog-walker pulled up in her very snazzy pickup. She leaned out the window with her phone, poised in camera mode.

“Do you see that car? Do you see what’s in that car?” She held the phone to her angry face and started shooting photos.

Given the woman’s hostile tone, my friend and I looked around for something unpleasant in one of the cars parked along the quiet side street.

We found her focus was on a small, tired sedan, with a couple folks sleeping in the front seats. It’s a common sight in the neighborhood, though. Carpoolers often wait for their passengers, catching last-minute snoozes.

My friend said something like, “They’re just napping.”

But the angry woman was not placated. She continued shooting her photos.

I walked to the car, looked through the partly-opened side window, and noticed the two people were covered with blankets, and in the back seat were three small children, their jaws slack, heads at listless angles.

The child in the middle awoke and looked at me, sleepy-eyed—and frightened?

“Are you OK? “ I asked.

“Yes.”

“Do you speak English?”

“Yes.”

“And you’re OK?”

He nodded, while the others slept.

My friend and I walked on, and the angry woman continued shooting “what” she saw in the car, not “whom.”

It took another half a block for me to process what was happening: That woman was going to report the family. Maybe the result would be beneficial, but maybe not; maybe the children would be put into our faulty foster care system, rather than emergency family housing; maybe they weren’t all documented, and the children would be imprisoned—shit.

“I have to go back,” I said to my friend. “You don’t need to come with me. It’s OK.”

I dragged my nutty dog back to the car. The angry woman was gone. Looking into the front seats, I realized the two people were a young woman and another small child.

“Peligro,” I said. “La mujer fotografia tu auto.”

The young mother startled.

“¿Habla inglés?” I asked.

“Yes.”

“A woman drove by here and took pictures of you all in your car. I’m afraid she’s going to report you.”

Through anger, fear, the onset of tears, the mother said, “Why? … We’re homeless.”

“Because she’s a jerk. You should probably move. Park somewhere else. I’m sorry.”

A sound of sorrow escaped her, wafted through her car window as she drove away, and settled on my chest.

Now, I realize it was not the right thing to do. What I should have done, was invite them to my house. I could have fixed them breakfast.

Love,
K-B