Tom Flies His Colors

They're Buying Everything Here

“It’s not the ones that come here to work the fields, it’s the ones that come and stay that are the problem.”


“The damn Mexicans.”

“You mean those people over there that live next to me—and half the people who live in this park?” (Highway Trailer Park, Santa Maria, CA)

“I guess so.”

“Why? What problem?”

“They come here for the schools, the medical care, cars—they can’t get all that stuff in Mexico. The ones ‘come here and go back home are OK. It’s the one’s that stay that are bad news.”

“Oh. Because they get the benefits they don’t pay for?”

“Hell, yes! They get paid in cash. They send the money home. They ain’t payin’ taxes!”

“What about all the stuff they buy here…”

“An’ that’s another thing! All these stores around here are owned by Indians ‘n such. I don’t mean natives, I mean Indians from India.”

“Iraqui’s own the market next door.”

“Them, too! And Asians, too! Pakistanis! They’ve been buying up everything around here for years. You know the Ocean Cliffs Hotel in Pismo? A friend who used to own the place told me that one day, a realtor came by and asked him if he wanted to sell. My friend said, no, and the realtor said, how much would you sell it for if you were offered enough? The guy told him. A couple weeks later, a half dozen little Japenese guys came walking up carrying bags—you know suit cases.” Tom is a big man and his imitation of the nodding steps of a little Japanese businessman lugging a suitcase and looking around was implausibly characteristic. “My friend invited them into the office and they opened the suitcases that were filled with money—three times the amount he told the realtor and my friend said he’d told the realtor $15 million. Fuck, yeah, he sold out, fast! I would.”

“That’s a lot of cash.”

“They’re laundering the money up here. Same way with scrap I take down to LA every week.” Tom’s the manager here at Highway Trailer Park and he parks a big white Freightliner semi, sometimes it’s in the park and at other times on Bunny Street near the entrance. Early every Wednesday morning, he fires it up and takes it down to LA with it’s open container full of scrap metal he collects from scrap dealers in the area. “They pay in cash,” he says, “Japanese company. Every week I come back with loads of cash—six, eight, sometimes over twenty thousand dollars.”

“I would have thought something like that, they’d have to be more careful.”

“Hah! Like anyone’s watching. They’re laundering money just like the guys where I pick up the scrap! Nobody reports nothing.”






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