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Significant Incident Report #2: The Garage*

A homeless man slept in our garage.

Hello? Is this the emergency shelter? Oh, good. Glad I caught you. I’d like to report an incident? Something that happened last night.

No, I know you’re not the police. But I thought I wasn’t supposed to call the police anymore? Poverty’s not a crime, right? So I thought I’d call you, because this has to do with a homeless person and you handle them.

You serve that population. Yes. That’s what I meant to say. You serve that population, so I think you should know about what happened last night.

A homeless man slept the garage.

No, at our rental house. I have a studio there, where I do my creative work. We rent the rest of it out, don’t worry. We do try, you know, to do our part and be reasonable landlords. We can’t advertise on Facebook anymore because people just abuse us and call us greedy. I mean, we can’t rent to just anyone, and it’s not our fault that the taxes just keep going up and the cost of utilities, don’t get me started.

So our tenant, who is also our son, reported that his car smelled of cigarette smoke. Like not just one cigarette, but like someone had been smoking in his car all night. And his stuff was strewn about as though to make room for someone to lie down. And it smelled bad too. Not just of cigarettes, but of, well, body odour?

No, he doesn’t think anything was stolen. And no, it wasn’t locked. It doesn’t lock anymore, see. He’s just a kid. It’s an old car. A Subaru? Like from 1999 or something. He says it’s hard to get parts, he has to hunt around online and sometimes the parts take ages to get here, what with the floods and supply chain issues. Anyway, because it doesn’t lock, he doesn’t keep anything in his car. Just some rags and, well, to be honest, I think a lot of empty take out food containers.

But look, we’re not worried about anything being stolen, we’re more worried about the homeless guy? Do you think he’s okay? I wondered if you knew who he might be?

No, no, we never actually saw him. Just smelled him. So, yeah, I guess I’m assuming it was a man. Right, we can’t make assumptions about gender anymore. You’re right and I’m sorry I did that. But do you know who he might be?

They. They. Sorry.

Oh, yeah and the garage wasn’t locked either. It’s really old, it’s practically like being outside.

It’s just, it’s kind of tucked away in a residential neighbourhood, at the end of a lane? I mean, no one can find this place, even with detailed directions. I have no idea how he — they, sorry — found it. This is a safe, small community. And your shelter, I mean thank goodness you folks are there, but — isn’t that the place people are supposed to go when they don’t have a place to sleep?

I don’t know how I feel about a homeless person sleeping in our garage. I mean, it’s not like we’re using it. Although it kind of sucks for our son, whose car now stinks like cigarettes and armpit. And the smoking part bothers me. It’s a fire hazard, isn’t it? I’m pretty sure our insurance wouldn’t cover an accidental fire caused by a homeless person smoking. It’s a liability for us.

But if he — sorry, they — weren’t smoking, it would probably be alright. I mean what harm could there be?

So, yeah, I guess that’s why I’m calling. Could find out who it is and talk to them? Tell them it’s okay if they come back, but no smoking. I can clear out a little area in the garage itself, not in my son’s car. I can even leave blankets. But smoking is a hard no, that’s what I want to say. Oh, and food. No food, because of the rats. They are everywhere in this town. No food, no smoking.

Can you ask him? We can try that for a few nights and see how that goes for everyone. Then we can regroup.

What do you think? Do you think that will work?

Hello? Hello? I think the call disconnected.

Can you hear me? Shoot. I think we got cut off. I’ll phone you right back.

*Being a satirical recounting of (maybe, partially) true events occurring in a rapidly-growing mountain town during the unprecedented year of 2022.

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