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Saturday, May 27, 2006

The Third World: closer than you think

Mrs. Fetched’s mom bought a trailer from a relative; I think the motive is to fix it up and rent it out. The kitchen was in pretty bad shape, and some people we know from the private school where the kids used to go had some cabinets. So most of the morning was destroyed in the chicken houses, and the afternoon was filled up with this trip.

The cabinets were stored in a double-wide that I thought was dedicated completely to storage, with a mini-junkyard spilling outside. However, it happened to be occupied by a family. When I stepped inside, I marvelled that any one person, let alone a family, could consider living in this place. No carpet (or even linoleum) on the floors, construction material strewn everywhere, the ceiling water-stained and sagging everywhere. I’m sure there are worse places to live, but this looked like a little piece of Ramallah transplanted to Planet Georgia. The two goats tethered outside completed the scene.

It would be interesting to hear their story. The guy seems to be fairly well-educated (he knows what ex post facto means, for example) and has HVAC experience. I also noticed several PCs in various states of repair in the house, although I think it’s easier to get HVAC work than computer work these days. They were given the place by the people we know, and were glad to see us get the cabinets out — that half-opened what was once a master bedroom, and they might be able to clear the rest of the junk out and use that room now. It would be nice to see them get some flooring in there, though.

I heard that the term “dirt poor” was originally used to describe people who couldn’t afford to put in tile or wood floor in their house, so the floor was dirt — or perhaps it meant an earthen (or sod) house was all they could manage. Frankly, I think an honest earth house with a dirt floor would have been a more dignified home than this double-wide. Or maybe they’re just in the middle of gutting and rebuilding the interior... somehow, I doubt it. At least it’s a roof over their heads, even if it leaks here and there, but it’s only a step above being homeless.

There are places like this everywhere, tucked into little side lanes that you barely notice. If you look for them, you’ll probably find them. Then you’ll wonder what to do about it.


  1. Hi Farfetched. The sad truth is a lot of people who never thought that it would happen to them, end up this way.

    Another sad truth is even for the most poor and destitute, there is no guarantee or surety that there will be, or ever will be help.

    You wrote, Then you’ll wonder what to do about it. I think most people wonder what they’ll do about it, unfortunately there are many that are unable or unsure what to do. The saddest part is there are many who can and know what to do, but don’t.

  2. No argument there, FM.

    The thing is, I think that for a lot of people, they're not even aware that places like this exist in the US. They may know, but they aren't aware, nor do they want to be.

    Like I said, I'd like to know the guy's story. HVAC work is skilled labor, and pretty much in demand all the time (at least down in Atlanta). Could be a transportation issue — Lord knows you can't hold down a job outside the major urban areas without a car.

  3. Totally agree with you FARfetched. I don't know if this is off subject, but when you said you have to have a car.

    I wonder how many people who were just getting by, now can't because of gas?

  4. It's quite possible. But carpooling, or careful planning (always do more than one thing when you're out, like picking up groceries on the way home from work) could take *some* of the sting out there.


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