Destroyer of Dreams
I have a job.
It’s not a full time job, and not really even an actually part time job, rather something I do on occasion because it only takes have the day and I get paid decently for it. And it’s interesting.
What I do is destroy the American Dream. I do work in evictions. Technically, the job I have entails taking everything left behind by the tenant after the police do the actual eviction and throwing it out. I took the job because it sounded interesting, and I felt I could learn something. And it is sort of interesting, but far from glamorous; on Trevor’s first day of work, a dead cat fell out of a mattress. On my first day, nothing so interesting happened.
The process we go through is simple; at some point, someone decides that a homeowner no longer actually owns their house. The homeowner is then given various notices to this effect, until someone hands them a finial date by which they have to leave. On that day, there are several factions that show up- myself and my crew, the police from the police state to throw the homeowner on the street if need be, a locksmith, and a mysterious man from something mysterious called “the Association,” the origin and nature of which has not been adequately explained to me. The locksmith that I have always worked with has a company called GoldiLocks. I assume that he is the best in his field, because he’s already taken the best locksmith company name possible.
The police enter the house and make sure no one is home. Well not home, because it’s not their home anymore, but there could be people who used to have a home. After an all clear, we are allowed to enter, and begin hauling things out. There are rules, we also must dispose of certain things separately, essentially anything that could harm a child if they found it. This list consists of blades, weapons, drugs, dangerous chemicals, booze, and pornography. I’m not sure what we would do if we found a sex toy though. And I’m not sure how they disposed of that cat that Trevor found in the first day. It’s was disgusting, all glass eyes and things eating it. I do not think Trevor knows either, because even on his first day he was wise enough to find other pressing work that needed to be done.
At one of the houses, we found bottle and bottles of Tequila. I desperately coveted them, but they were never out of the eyes of the watchful Association Man, who probably honestly wouldn’t have cared but I was never clear if he was just a guy or my boss’s boss or what the inevitably terrible secret of the association was, or what he was supposed to be doing.
Even though I never understood the man from the association, I will say that no one I work with is a slacker, and everyone involved (with the exception of the police from a Certain County, which we will get to in but a moment) works very hard, and was fun or at least respectful to work with. The people who pick through the bones after you lose your house, remember that. I even think Trevor can be forgiven from walking away from that cat, as it was; after all, it was his first day. The man who had lived there had been looking for his cat, as the hole in the mattress it was laying was covered by a foam plate, or a heavy sheet cover, or something of that kind. The man had apparently slept over it for a couple days. I don’t know why he didn’t smell anything.
As for the actually working, I have a very odd mixture of feelings about it. Large items, furniture, couches, television, are just carried out and left by the curb. Once we got a garage full of tires, which had helpfully each been pieced by a screwdriver to render them useless without repair. These houses often have piles of just stuff, and I literally couldn’t tell you what it was. VHS tapes, trinkets, clothes, all of them go into our black bags. And I consider myself a minimalist, so I’m striving to rid myself of superfluous possessions that don’t actually bring me happiness. And that’s what is so weird; there are all these objects, piles of just descriptionless stuff. Did it bring people happiness? Were they forced to leave it behind? I wonder, sometimes, about these things. Then I throw their shit unceremoniously into plastic dream-catcher bags, black holes which will take them to a landfill where they will be used to contribute to the destruction of the environment.
Though at one point I found a bag of lottery tickets. And I’m talking about the scratch off lottery tickets, I had found them lying all around the house. But this bag had a bunch of these, hundreds of dollars worth. $3, $7, $5 tickets, someone was spending hundreds of dollars a month. I don’t know how much house payments were, but it likely could be paid for just by what was in these tickets. For how long, I don’t know, but I doubt they were worth it.
This is also the anecdote where I learned that cops of a Certain County are not my favorite people. My morning started like this; get up out of bed at an ungody hour, a buddy of mine coming in for the day meets me at my house. We leave at six thirty to arrive at a house in the Certain County. We are given a window of time for which the cops will show up; we can’t go in without them, of course, so we have to wait. This turns out to be for hours; the Certain County police show up at the very end of what they said they might come for, so we’ve been waiting for four hours or so. They don’t let the locksmith open the locks, instead they battering ram down the door. There has been no one living in the building for months; the back door turned out to be unlocked. Damaging the front door made our jobs harder; so it goes. In the end, the house actually turned out to be empty; the garage had items it in, but it turned out to be six and a half hours on the job for twenty minutes of work. It’s deeply unsatisfying.
As a finial note, I would like to talk about something that has reinforced my aversion to buying a house. One of the first houses I worked with was actually paid for, but the owner had neglected to pay property taxes; after a certain point, the county claims possession of your house, and auctions off what is called a tax deed. The buyer must then pay any remaining property tax, and at that point they own the deed. For the next eighteen months, the tenants have the opportunity to buy the deed at it’s cost plus a steep fine, which is unlikely to happen if they couldn’t’ afford to pay the tax in the first place. And this is sort of tragic that this happens, and for me it has a very pragmatic consequence in that I don’t believe you can ever actually own a house. And a lot of what is considered the American Dream relies on this idea of owning your own house, but this isn’t actually true. Any other piece of property that an average person buys owns it once once it’s paid off; but houses are something that you have to pay for forever. And if you forget a Destroyer of Dreams will come visit you.