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Long story short 

When I first started working on this week's cover story package ("Just passing through"), I never could have imagined how difficult they would be to find.

Ask at the local social services agencies, and those folks will tell you that they are everywhere. Check at the affordable motels, and the owners shake their heads affirmatively — yes, some of them are around.

The cops know about them, too. And so do the schools.

But it turns out that families who have gone from decent jobs and homes to living in motels are like pennies in your change pocket: There are a billion of them until you actually go looking for one.

Maybe it's embarrassment, or perhaps fear that the kids will be taken away (which is unlikely, by the way). All I know is that my car was due for another oil change by the time I found even a couple families who would sit down and tell their stories.

In the end, though, it was totally worth it. If not for you, the readers, then at least for me. I was absolutely humbled by how brave these families were. How loving they were. How normal they were. And are.

I was humbled ... but also a bit frightened, I'll admit. Their likeness to myself was unsettling.

I guess we all like to think we're too smart, too hard-working, too resourceful to end up in a situation like that.

We're fooling ourselves.

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