“Are you the property owner, ma’am?” The sergeant sounds young.
“Yes,” I say. “With my husband and sister-in-law.”
“Oh, okay,” he chuckles. “When I talked to your dad last week, I ex-
plained we couldn’t do anything about them being on the property be-
cause he’s just a renter.”
My father didn’t tell me anything about that. He’s hard of hearing
from a lifetime of working in sawmills. Maybe he didn’t hear the ser-
geant correctly, or maybe the sergeant isn’t telling me the entire truth.
Either way, his explanation makes no sense. Is he really saying that ten-
ants don’t have the right to remove an unwanted person from a space
“We’ll dispatch someone out there as soon as we can to get their sideof things,” he says.
“Why do they have a side in this?” I still can’t believe that no one ison their way.
“I understand your frustration, ma’am.”I doubt this. “When will you get here?” I retort.
“As soon as we can, ma’am. All of our officers are on calls.”
“But they’re up and about and they’ve been burning wood in there.”
“Ma’am, we have a community of over thirty thousand to serve.”
If the sergeant, with his placating, condescending tone, calls me
ma’am one more time, I may slam my phone onto the concrete floor.
“You’ve got to understand, ma’am,” he continues, “you’re not our
There it is. Ma’am. I manage to hold on to my phone but unload on
him. A year’s worth of frustration about how awful it is that no one—not
the city, not the police—will help us, how unfair it is that the abandoned
trailer has become our responsibility, how the drug use and prostitution
must now be our problem, too, how we’ll probably be liable if one day
the man and woman burn down the entire neighborhood.
“I’m worried about my father’s safety,” I say, near tears. “Do I need to
call 911 to get someone here?”
“The outcome would be the same, ma’am. We’ll be there as soon as
The call ends. I attempt a deep breath.
“Here, Sis.” My father lifts the corner of a bedsheet draped over a
table. “Help me fold this up.”
Blankets and sheets cover most of his tables to protect them from
rain and dust. Though it’s only April, the air inside the shop feels stale,