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My job is to watch dreams die

This is from a recent Business Insider post by Joe Wiesenthal:

After explaining the (interesting) legal process of initiating a foreclosure, a commenter describes the actual process of the eviction. Here's a segment:

I open every drawer and cupboard making sure the house is clean and doesn't have old engines, toxic chemicals or dead dogs lingering anywhere. Sometimes the kids are there, maybe waiting in the car, maybe not. I see the marks on the wall showing how the kids grew over the years. I see the anguished poetry scribbled on the wall by stoned teenagers and the occasional hole punched in the wall. One woman handed me the key to her reinforced bedroom door - during the divorce her now ex-husband was still living in the house and she had to barricade herself in at night. Another said "right there is where I found my son - he couldn't handle losing the house".

Sometimes they don't want the money and don't want to be evicted so they sign a waiver stating that everything left inside can be disposed of. Hospital beds. Oxygen tanks and wheelchairs. Hundreds of boxes of shoes. A mannequin. A 2nd grader's homework portfolio. A wedding album filled with pictures with one person torn out. Get rich quick "business plans". 40 years worth of drafting documents. To the lenders and the lawyers, these things don't exist - they close the file and order a trashout. Sometimes I linger as I check the basement for mold and lead. I am the final period on so many significant chapters. To most other people it is just part of the job but in so many other universes this is where I ended up. There is no difference between myself and these people other than the intangible twists of experience.

And so I listen. I feign dispassion but I'm not fooling anybody. Somehow they can tell that I care and thank me even as they admit that it isn't my fault, that it isn't my responsibility to listen. I've stood inside another's dream for an hour as they spoke, not really to be heard but to say goodbye - to leave the ghosts behind.

They go to the car and return with the openers.

The keys are peeled from a ring.

They thank me. Sometimes they cry.

And they're gone.

I wait for their car to vanish before I put up the sign. To most everybody else it is just another house on just another block in just another city in just another financial catastrophe.

But I was there. I saw the dream end.

About the author

Paddy Hirsch is a Senior Editor at Marketplace and the creator and host of the Marketplace Whiteboard. Follow Paddy on Twitter @paddyhirsch and on facebook at www.facebook.com/paddyhirsch101

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