Letter: The Little Brown Trailer

Letter to the Editor

Do you ever see it when you pass by … the little brown trailer on a brown patch of dirt? It looks like a dark little place … not obvious to the passerby.

If you look hard enough, maybe the next time you drive by, you’ll imagine what I’m about to tell you.

It’s a little brown trailer on a brown patch of dirt.

People go there to wait for work. Some rise at 4 a.m and spend hard-earned money to catch several buses from as far away as East L.A. … day after day, hoping to get work.

Most have left their home countries to escape poverty or violence. They’ve come to begin anew. For them, the American dream is still alive, though their absence has taken a toll on families at home. People have died; relationships have suffered.

If you drive by on a Wednesday morning, you’d see a guy wearing a baseball cap addressing a crowd. That’s the weekly meeting, when he tells workers about jobs and news. He might announce work for a carpenter or a housekeeper or ask them to stand in silence to honor the death of a loved one.

Later, you might see someone writing on an old white board while others talk or write. That’s the English class where workers learn from dedicated volunteers. 

Inside, you’d see a small office. The man in the cap might be registering a worker or interviewing a hirer. In the main room, you’d see shelves of donated materials — a tech center. Farther in, you’d see a pantry for lunches for the workers. 

If you really try, you’d feel the camaraderie created by the people at the picnic tables, as they wait in the early morning fog. 

That little brown trailer is called the Malibu Community Labor Exchange. People have gathered here, in the heart of Malibu, for over 20 years to serve you with skilled labor so they can feed their families and pay their way.

Maybe the next time you drive by, you’ll look and see the human face of the Labor Exchange.

Theresa Fellmann