Tuesday, June 08, 2010

My first L.A. crack house, part 1

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of helping my friend Dale clean up a house that he and his dad inherited. The pleasure ended there.

The house was in Sylmar, not exactly a haven of middle-class suburbia. Furthermore, this house was a crack house. Neither a gardener nor a maid had visited since the Reagan administration, the place was filled inside and out with junk, and the carpet had to have been dirtier than the street. (Of course, as soon as I got to a computer, I looked it up on zillow.com: $277,000. Four years after the real estate peak and a 3-bedroom crack house in ghetto-adjacent is still over a quarter million. Welcome to Los Angeles, seriously.)

Dale and his dad had spent some time waiting out the addicts who insisted they were entitled to live there rent-free. Even after the sheriff had forcibly escorted them to the sidewalk a few weeks ago, they returned not less than two hours later. To steal a maxim from Socrates, there’s just no reasoning with crack addicts.

In order to discourage these people from further re-squats, Dale and his dad boarded up the windows Saturday after a day of filling a long-ass dumpster with crap. It didn’t work. They arrived Sunday morning to find evidence that someone had broken in again, no doubt lured by the promise of stench, clutter, and broken glass. Everybody shrugged it off and began the Sunday hauling session.

You have to understand, this place was so filled with crap that even carpet companies refused to provide estimates because they couldn’t see the floor. Dale was adamant about his utter disinterest in everything inside and out. Just heave it.

That is, until he found a pair of backpacks tied together. They contained, among other things, a crack pipe, an unopened bottle of mojito mix, a hammer and a few other tools, a few cans of paint, several long zip ties, and a bike chain. We were amazed to find that there were things that might actually be worth keeping, so we left the tools, the mojito mix, and the zip ties in a pile near the dumpster, and tossed the rest.

Then the guy who’d broken in the night before showed up, asking if we’d seen two backpacks tied together. He’d left them there the night before, he explained, but they were too heavy for him to carry “home” on his bike with one flat tire. When we told him we tossed (most of) his things, he got a tad upset, lecturing us on being the kind of thoughtless people who threw away other people’s belongings.

He impressed the hell out of us by citing that he ran his own business and had a lawyer. Then Dale impressed the hell out of him by suggesting we call the police. Cracky did an about-face, suddenly choosing to cut his losses. Dale’s dad offered to help him sort through the trash to find his crack pipe, but Cracky politely declined. I guess he realized at that moment that the cops might be interested in talking to a guy who’d just confessed to a B&E and that his lawyer didn’t work weekends.

He then proceeded to spend the next several minutes figuring out how to use his T-shirt and some zip ties to bundle together his paint cans, then got “on” his seatless bicycle and rode off.

And, of course, he showed up a couple hours later asking if we’d seen any more of his stuff. Not only is everyone in L.A. an actor, but we all think the masses want encores.

1 comment:

Dave Meyer said...

One thing you can count on in this country...the God given right of entitlement. Oddly, had this guy been on COPS and caught with the backpacks, he would have denied they belonged to him, or claimed they belonged to his cousin...whose name he didn't know.