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Broken Windows Theory | Poor Magazine

Broken Windows Theory

admin_general - Posted on 23 February 2022

Broken Windows | Hidden Brain : NPR


Broken Windows Theory 

by Lisa Ganser


I’m thinking about when 

east olympia

next door neighbor

Elder white woman

Widow to a retired LA kop

(I know cuz he told me,

After asking me what i do 

then he creepily laughed

“Oh i know what poLice brutality is”)

Who have a Son

It was covid, i checked in

asked how he was doing

“Still working,” he said without a mask

I stayed back 

“job security”

a corrections officer, he laughed


One sunny day

Corrections Officer Son was doing yard work 

for his Mom

He looked off this day, angry maybe

He paused outta eye sight

Behind our car 

When he had been in full stride

with a loud sound, so weird

Pacing back and forth 

mumbling loud


While We held a meeting in the front yard

Of the little blue house we rented

Young Black friends mostly

Helping me and a few other white folks

Learn about and deepen our relationship to Radical Redistribution 

I had a conscious hopeful thought

That maybe the neighbors could hear this talk of Reparations and Care

Good Medicine, i thought


My friends were leaving and i noticed the back window of our car was broken

Glass inside

What The Fuck

It was not like that just hours ago 


Two days later i see C.O.son

Again doing yard work 

He evades saying Hello. Strange.

I stay standing by the car strategic

He has to come past me.

I’m in his path now 

“Hey there,” i say as i interrupt

his About Face 

“Oh hey Lisa,” he says

He smells like the pain i would feel

The morning of a hang over 

“Looks like someone punched out our window,” i said to him

As i motioned toward the car

He looked at the window and never made eye contact 

“Did i do that?” He asked


not what i expected

and also confirmed my upset guts

We talk a bit, i mostly listen

With my bushy eyebrow cocked

“Let me know how much it is,” he said

A number of times



It was $300, i told him a couple days later, after talking to our insurance and getting a quote


A couple weeks later I’m standing out front with a friend 

Corrections officer son pulls up and hands me a wad of cash

“I’ll give you the other $20 later”

and sped off 

My friend looked at me like

“Was that a drug deal?”


It’s a year and a half later

I’m at the food coop

Where i pull a short shift most saturdays 

stocking toothpaste and tinctures

“working member” earning a discount on groceries to stretch out my food stamps 

and to Connect.


I park on the side street there

It’s what we do 

So customers can park in the lot 


I park across from the familiar big tan RV 

Someone’s Home

That just took root 

this cold winter

In that public spot

hasn’t moved for weeks


I look up and down the street

At that RV and all the CARpartments


that’s apartments that are cars


(Learned the word from Tiny)

People’s Homes


And all of those Homes on wheels 

Every single one of them

Have at least 

one window

broken out

All the windows facing the street

are violently punched in


It’s been that way for at least a couple days


And now it’s been two weeks


Today it’s so cold i can see my breath

and the broken windows on these Homes

Have cardboard, plastic and cloth

Taped up trying to keep warmth in

The glass on the road has been cleaned up


I feel sick to my stomach

Like i did when my neighbor

broke our car window 

just a car

these are Homes


I’m thinking these CARpartments might not be insured, no deductible for them, no easy fix


I bet the people 

Who broke those windows 

live in houses.


I’m thinking about the things

that housed people do.


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