Saturday, October 09, 2004


I like to go to bed early and lie there listening to the seals barking down at Shilshole Marina and the rumbling of the trains heading north to Canada on the tracks three blocks west of us.

I don't often get to bed early, but Thursday night I did. However, if there were any seals or trains, they were drowned out by the sounds of a commerical truck going forward, backing up, and idling loudly. Our street, which dead-ends in an alley, gets so little traffic, and most of that local, that we can recognize nearly every car that goes by. This truck was definitely not on the approved list.

We got up and went to the French doors and saw an open flatbed carrying an enormous glistening white SUV. The truck appeared to be offloading the SUV in the alley. We watched, puzzled, as the strange SUV was placed in front of the house across the street, because it certainly did not belong to the family in that house. The truck continued loudly maneuvering around and seemed to be positioning itself in front of the small brown truck that belongs to our nextdoor neighbor. He's been in hospice for the past week, dying of bone cancer. His teenage daughter had reported that afternoon, as she played with our kitten on the lawn, that her father was in a coma.

"Repo," my husband said grimly. "They're taking his truck. They always come in the middle of the night, or when no one's home."

Sure enough, the nextdoor neighbor's wife's car was gone; she was visiting him at the hospice.

There was no possibility of sleep with the ruckus out in the street, so I went out and asked what was going on. "He didn't make payments on the truck," the burly repo man said, defensively. By now several other folks were out on their front porches, watching. Call me sheltered, call me middle class, but repo men were something I've only seen on TV or in the movies.

Eventually the repo folks got our neighbor's truck loaded, and drove off with it, and at some point they removed the huge SUV as well. When we got up in the morning, there was an odd, empty space on the street where our nextdoor neighbor's truck had always been parked.

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