Tuesday, 28 February 2012
The Mean Streets of Glebe
For about 3 weeks now there has been 2 young guys living in a car in the street beside our house. I first noticed the car because it has signs in its window advertising its sale. Apparently it's a great car in excellent condition. These guys must work in politics, or at least aspire to. The car is a 1998 purple Magna with QLD plates. It only has 154,000 km on the clock. I guess that's not a whole lot for a 14 year old car. The paint over the majority of the car has lost its shine and in many places is faded, worn off and crazed and cracked. There is a large wide scratch/dent over one of the wheel wells and the tinted back window has bubbled. It also comes with lots of camping gear. And did I mention they are living in it? There are sheets in that car to sleep under and one of the guys keeps his contact lens case on the centre console near the handbrake. Homey.
Would you buy this vehicle for $2,499 ONO?
Now I kinda feel a bit sorry for the guys. I guess they have no money to live anywhere else at the moment. Sydney is an expensive city and you don't get much for your money. Their age, dress and the fact that they have camping gear makes me wonder if they are "backpackers" travelling around Australia and they are towards the end of their trip. Whatever the reason I have found myself wondering about the etiquette of this situation. After all, they are our neighbours. Should I show my concern for their welfare? We have phoned the police, more from the fact that we would prefer they didn't live in their car in our street, than from concern for their welfare, which by the way is the only time the police will intervene. Should I invite them in for a cuppa? A hot shower? Just say hello? Today they unpacked the car on the path, maybe they were doing their weekly clean?
You know what my biggest issue is? They get to sleep in. What I wouldn't give for a sleep in. They are both asleep in there, with their windows wound down about 5cm on each side, when I walk Aiden up to daycare at about 8.30am. They usually rise sometime between 10 and 12. Lucky buggers.
Of course I am being flippant. I know there is a serious side to the situation. They could be living in their car for any number of reasons. Homelessness is a sad and growing concern around Australia and you can read more about it here. Glebe certainly has a number of well known homeless people. When we lived in the Beirut end of Glebe I had experience with a very sad situation which must get repeated all around Sydney.
I was 5-6 months pregnant with Aiden and home sick from work with a sinus infection. Our Glebe St house was very close to the Broadway Shopping Centre where our local medical centre is located. I wandered up mid morning to see the Doctor in the hope of some antibiotics or perhaps just some sympathy. As I neared the shopping centre I walked past a couple just as the man punched the women in the face. She fell to the ground just behind me. I picked her up from the cement while the man hurled abuse at her. I yelled back at him and he took off. Turning to the woman she sobbed through her bloody nose that she was 6 months pregnant and that was her boyfriend who had just hit her. Nice.
I grabbed her by the arm and told her to come up to the Doctors with me to see about her nose. Turns out she was homeless. This information came to light when the Doctor's receptionist continued to ask insensitive and intrusive questions, which the girl could not answer. Eventually the girl took off without seeing the Doctor. Apart from being homeless and not having a medicare number, she had no money to pay.
So here I was pregnant and worrying about whether we would ever go to restaurants again after our baby was born, and here was this girl who didn't have a safe home or stable relationship to bring her baby into. I think about that girl and her baby a lot. And I am grateful to have a comfortable home and great relationship.
So apart from the fact that these guys living on my street are clearly deluded about selling their car I think I will at least say hello tomorrow. It would be the neighbourly thing to do. Don't you think?