Balboa Trailer Park Weekend Manager

Illustration by Bob AulWhen you talk to the residents, you're not allowed to say "trailer." You have to say "mobile home" or "coach." That's just part of the protocol; they think it's Philistine to refer to them as trailers. The people here have a lot of money; you know, they're post-65 —most of them real post, like 80. They come on weekends, they live in Beverly Hills or Palm Springs, and sometimes I have to put up with a little rich attitude. You know, "Water my plants while I'm gone." You know, they think I'm their boy. I say, "Sure," and then I don't touch them. The park is located on the bay side of the peninsula, across the street from the beach, so not a lot of people know about it. I live there, too. It's part of the deal. I get my own unit rent-free, plus cable and utilities. It's the same size as the other ones, just a little older. I'd never lived in a trailer before. I lived in an RV for a year in a dry storage yard. I was the only one there, and I was surrounded by barbed wire. Girls usually thought it was pretty hip, like going camping. Like a minivacation. For the most part, it's really nice. The killer is that I have to be there from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sundays. I can't leave. In the winter, I really don't care. But in the summer, when you see women get out of their cars in the metered parking lot next to the park and start taking off layers until they get down to a bikini . . . and I'm stuck with a bunch of 80-year-olds. So when you see someone to look at who's younger—not even young, like 52—it's like, "Ooooohhh." Sometimes I'll just sit outside in a chair with binoculars and look over at the beach. And then, on my lunch hour, I'll take a ride over there to get my fix. About a third of the units are full-time —they're usually younger people, we're talking 50 and 60 years old. There's a woman with Alzheimer's who's getting worse. She keeps wanting me to take her to San Gabriel. I make excuses: "Oh, I have to pick up my girlfriend from school," or, "Oh, my car isn't running." She's starting to wander around, and I have to keep her from wandering into traffic sometimes. There's no gate on the place, so she can just wander out. What's worse, with no gate, people try to slip in and get free parking. So I have to sit there like a watchdog, and I hate that. I hate confrontation. My boss is from Queens. He'll just say, "Excuse me. What the hell do you think you're doing?" He's from the old school, total goodfella. I had a guy sleeping behind my coach, spending the night there. I didn't know until the next day, when I saw the blankets. I didn't say anything. I figure they don't bother me; I don't bother them. My boss, he'd probably take a club to the guy while he's sleeping. He'd just leave him there for the possums. But for the most part, it's pretty nice. The people are pretty nice. And some of their daughters and granddaughters are pretty sweet, so that's a little treat when they come to visit. But then they end up walking across the street to the beach. So I end up getting out my binoculars.

—as told to Steve Lowery

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