The Scrapyard

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No journey along Raymer Street would be complete without a stop at the salvage works, easily the busiest establishment in the neighborhood. Cars, trucks and shopping carts line up all day, loaded with tradable detritus of this modern world, which gets scooped into cargo containers and hauled to Long Beach, and thence to China.   Or, back to China, to be accurate.

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For some reason, they don’t take TV’s, which pile up across the street as the day goes on.  As well as shopping carts:

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Home Depot parking lot

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Most weekdays, the contractors have come and gone by 8am. Afterwards, the pickings are slim. You can hang out by the entrance all morning, try to flag work with hopeful eye contact, but there are too many of you.  So you wait til lunch, when some of the trucks come back to re-supply.  During the boom you could work the lot, scare up the odd gig helping a housewife load garden supplies into her SUV. Now the security guards chase you off for harassing the clientele. You retreat to the shade trees at the edge of the landscaping and hang out in clusters of two and three, making conversation. By 3 pm you stop casing the cars.  Even the gringo home remodelers are too broke-ass to pay you. But you don’t go home.  Everyone else is waiting for you to go home. It’s a war of attrition. You’re not going to let the last man standing on the lot take your job. You’re here to put in a full day.  Until then, you tell each other stories.