Monday, December 03, 2007


I'm beginning to wonder whether people are supposed to be living in these things. Since they're designed as temporary shelter, living in a trailer takes some doing, sort of like living in a tent. You've got to be kind of a permanent outdoors/maintenance person.

That's not as true of the double-wides, which are intended to be semi-permanent structures sitting on foundations, but even they feature the same mix of cheap materials and hurry-up workmanship as travel trailers. There are the ubiquitous fake-wood panelled interior walls -- really a type of cardboard, and the same tinny furnaces, substandard plumbing, and flimsy wiring in nearly all these things. Believe me; I've been inside a few, and seen the way they leak through the seams at the first hint of rain.

The newer ones are often built of vinyl, the new universal building material, and there are definitely third-world undertones to seeing Americans housed in vinyl or plastic huts. From what I've seen, those living in them are engaged in constant struggles keeping the plumbing functioning, the air conditioning from blowing out the breaker box, the seams caulked sufficiently to hold the water out, and so forth.

It's a part-time job and some people jump right into it. Living in a trailer is a challenge that requires a do-it-yourself self-reliant type of person, and a lot of these older guys in trailer parks really enjoy that kind of stuff. It helps them feel useful in retirement, and still good for something.

I had an electrical fire here a couple nights ago, during the great one-day deluge. I never thought twice about that electrical coupling lying on the ground in a layer of rotting vegetation, the one connecting the main cable from my box to the park's power source. But when that coupling got wet inside and burst into flames, I was fortunate not to have lost my hut or worse. It should have been off the ground, and minimally sheltered from the elements, but how am I to know such things?

I've never in my life done "stuff," and I didn't retire from my last job to become a maintenance man and gardener. I don't have the knowledge or inclination to do maintenance, and gardening hurts my back. I remember when I lived in apartments, if something went wrong I called the landlord to send someone to fix it, plus the guys with the truck came every week and did the yard.

Still, it's kind of nice living here in the tin shack, and I'm learning, slowly. I'm going to have to think about this some more. If the trailer doesn't kill me it might make me stronger.

No comments: