Trailer Parks – Real and Virtual

Literally, a Trailer Park is a residential area where individuals can lease space, and can then have a large manufactured home delivered to the lot. Unlike a caravan / camper – which is designed to be towed by a private vehicle for use on holiday / vacation – these mobile homes are really meant to be transported only once, sometimes more often, and are used as permanent dwellings. They can be an economical option for home ownership.

Many residents of trailer parks are hardworking people who take pride in their homes.  In some cases, people who own acres of land in the wilderness can affordably place a manufactured home on the site.  In these cases, it’s a badge of freedom from the financial and social constraints of living in the mainstream…. 

Amongst owners of manufactured homes, however, there are some who don’t seem to care much about hygeine, social aesthetics, or basic human dignity.  These situations are often ridiculed, from websites to musical theater.  Terms such as “trailer trash”, or my personal favorite “Spam-sucking trailer trash” are used in a derogatory manner.

Figuratively? A ‘trailer park’ is more of an approach to life… A close friend who shares my refugee status put it this way:  “it’s not an economic status or living locale, but a state of social and emotional sickness”. 

In my case, i didn’t grow up in a literal trailer park.  It was a nice, working-class suburb in the midwestern United States.  But amongst most members of my family, there is a tendency toward a trailer park attitude… and that is why i’m out here…sorting out ‘nurture vs nature’ and all that good stuff. 

Some themes common to the Trailer Park mentality?  A sense of entitlement. A parasitic addiction to drama.  The ability to take any situation and make it worse.  Short-sightedness.  The abject failure to learn from a mistake.  Sociopathic behavior – ‘it’s all about ME!’.  Barfights.  Bragging about barfights.  Shopping (beyond your economic means) as recreation.  Reptiles as pets.   Lack of independent, critical thinking skills.  Something for nothing – ‘it’s not a gift, they OWE me that!’  Pyromania.  NASCAR. 

And, in my opinion, the pervasive and over-riding ability to make one bad damn decision after another – then expect someone else to deal with the consequences.

11 thoughts on “Trailer Parks – Real and Virtual

  1. I grew up in the Midwest, in Columbus, Ohio to be exact, during the ’50s & 60s. I was adopted by a couple whose primary concern in life, other than each other, was the accumulation of “window dressing”. Unfortunately for them, I could not be force-fitted into their mold of the perfect child, which as
    window dressing I was expected to be. My sister, also adopted, was another story. What kept me from becoming another teenage suicide statistic was my
    mother’s parents, Grandma & Grandpa Tobin; two wonderful people of working
    class Irish stock that gave me their unconditional love. Columbus, Ohio
    was an incredibly depressing place in which to grow up. I left there for
    San Francisco when I turned 18.

    Your tales of life in the Midwest captivate me. Your observations are
    penetrating, unflinching and, best of all, funny as hell. Thanks for sharing
    yourself and your personal experience of Life in the Midwest.

    Your new fan,
    Mark Ellinger

  2. Mark – Thank you for sharing your story… here i am electronically self-medicating in the blogosphere, only to find myself humbled and honored by this remarkable community of people who understand and appreciate my words. i will do my best to keep you laughing… God knows, residents of The Park keep throwing materials at me on an hourly basis! i look forward to your comments along the way. Thank you again… your response is almost overwhelming…

  3. “But amongst most members of my family, there is a tendency toward a trailer park attitude… A sense of entitlement. A parasitic addiction to drama. The ability to take any situation and make it worse. Short-sightedness. The abject failure to learn from a mistake… And, in my opinion, the pervasive and over-riding ability to make one bad damn decision after another.”

    Yowch. Thanks for summing up my mother’s (South Georgia) side of the family better than I ever have, and making it clear why anyone with a moiety of their marbles, not just me, would avoid them like they were Petri dishes full of Ebola, as I’ve done since I was eleven.

    Not a trailer among them either, but that’s been my shorthand for them for years.

  4. sledpress – “moiety of their marbles”. maybe that’s my problem? i must be short of a quorum. i can’t just walk away from them… i genuinely love these people, warts and all. never mind the fact that i promised my dying father that i’d “look after them”. i can’t change them, their behaviors or their bad habits. i can only change how i react to them. and drink a bit… and write a bit… and explore remote professional assignments that might take me halfway around the world…

  5. Ouch. Well, fortunately I grew up a long distance way from most of mine, making them easier to have nothing to do with. I wince to think of your situation. That professional assignment thing sounds like a winner.

  6. Wow, I am facinated by your description and anaylisis of how the trailer park mentality manifests itself in individuals. I have my entire adult life tried to comprehend the machinations of the “park” way of thinking and lifestyle. One side of my family were from the “parks” and they typically did nothing and lounged around waiting for the check to come in. Alcohol, drugs, drama and the pity pot were their life. I actually had an uncle that lived in a mobile that put his washing machine outside on a pallette and it spun off suds into a hole in the ground. Just too lazy to bring it inside. The inside was where he chewed and spit tobacco!

    In later years I married a beautiful, intelligent woman from the parks. Yep, her dad had a die-cast set of NASCAR. Though I loved my wife dearly we eventually broke up with her swearing that everything that ever happened to her was someone else’s fault. Having been a biker chick once upon a time, the tattoos, and into drinking quite heavily she eventually made it through college, got a degree and secured a well paying job.

    However the park mentaility never left and as the family fixer-upper she spent a tremendous amount of time trying to solve all of her family member problems that were usually of their own doing or their total neglect. The family anthem was “help me” as they refused to help themselves. Why do something yourself when you can put it on someone else? That requires effort!

    After she left me (for really shallow reasons) rather than move into a comfortable home that she could easily afford she instead along with her mother moved into a shabby trailer in a drug infested park. The “park” has a tremendous pull does it not?

  7. That state of mind exists all over the world I think. Here’s to escape! This page should be recommended reading for all young uns who seem to be displaying TP tendancies.

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