Dear America: Thanks for the America. It was tasty. Signed, America

by Aengus Cargo

After a short walk from the light rail I was greeted by an empty P.O. box. A couple blocks north, I was greeted by a copy of the Post/News Duopoly’s jobs page, dated October 2008. “‘The fuck is this?!” I asked myself audibly as I flung the page onto the ground and kept on. At the 7-11 on 3rd/Broadway I bought a Lotto quick pick and a Powerball reject that was laying on the machine. After an uneventful lunch a couple blocks from there, I made the decision to cross the following intersection, one of the most dangerous I’ve encountered in Denver:

There are usually many more cars than this attempting to turn when they have the green and you’re in their way. Sometimes, when you’re lucky, there’s a cab or a bus waiting there too (I gave up after waiting three light cycles for that shot). And everybody going south on Broadway that wants to turn left on 6th is in a hurry to get somewhere, if even to the 24-hour grocery store, the 24-hour gym, or the fast food drive-thru. All that’s left to process in their tightly wound little motorist-y brains is that they want to get somewhere, they want to get there now, and some asshole with legs not pushing pedals is forcing them to wait an extra ten seconds before proceeding to their destination (via the next red light). All the while, their front bumpers come ever closer to your tender flesh and your easily breakable bones and, if you’re like me, you sometimes have a mood to flash a thumbs-up, a smile, a wink, or a condescending, raised-eyebrow, laser-guided side-glare. You, the asshole (after all, if you’re not driving, there must be something wrong with you), go about your merry way on foot, possibly to stand and wait for a vehicle that will pick you up and then stop every so many blocks to pick up more transit footsoldiers. Sometimes, these people end up stopping and waiting for another vehicle to take them the rest of the way.

(The one time I’ve ever outright lost my temper in this crosswalk was thanks to a cabbie who thought it would be clever to maintain ramming speed and then slam on his brakes to properly express his dismay at being so inconvenienced. The one time I’ve ever complained about a bus driver to RTD–I haven’t seen him again since–was after seeing his grin in his rear-view mirror as he plowed into the path of an unknown woman crossing in that same spot.)

Many moons ago this empty lot was a restaurant called the “White Spot,” popular with, as Mrs. Cho would put it, da gaaaaaAAY. I included the shot of the relatively new Beauvallon building (apartments with lower-level sushi bar and shops and gym and whatnot) mainly because of the gorgeous sky (this camera takes great sky shots when it wants to).

I remember one time at the bus stop right there, someone on one of the balconies was shining a laser pointer at bystanders, including me. I was tempted to make a show of it by putting a hand over an eye, screaming, writhing on the ground (or at least staggering around a bit before dropping to my knees) — instead I just shielded my face and took out my phone and started conspicuously pressing buttons. Funny thing, a few months prior I had also had a laser pointer shined towards me by some ruffians in a passing car. There’s a special place in Hades for someone who would do that in the first place, given that some of those are strong enough to burn retinas.

I’d like to think that I’ll never encounter someone who would do something stupid like that out of specific desire to cause harm to another person, but eight years of Bush have shoveled a cumulative metric shit-ton of protein bars and raw eggs into the maw of my already thriving inner misanthrope. It is clear now that giving a fuck about anyone not directly and immediately benefiting you in some tangible, material way is viewed as a sign of weakness. Whether or not we’re ever going to be marching to that particular drum again, certain memes have wormed their way into the national consciousness and/or subconsciousness, and the depths to which it is acceptable to stoop to get what one wants out of life, if one is in the right job title and/or tax bracket, continue their plunge. The ’60s made pointless, bullshit war seem at least tolerable for the power elite to wage (let’s face it), but Bush II brought treasury looting, torture, humiliation, mercenaries, indifferent snark and finger-pointing-at-piles-of-naked-assed-prisoners-in-photographs into it with open arms.

And whereas the last gasps of the 20th Century forced us to accept the meme, “Government’s job is to outsource everything to the private sector and let the private sector take care of you,” the Bush years gave a massive, shit-smeared thumbs-up to the private sector saying “Fuck off, it’s not my job to take care of you, get your own” as its higher-ups took everything they could grab from their underlings and their government alike. The government’s job is now to drop bombs, provide a paycheck for life to our neutered politicians, cut welfare checks for rich people and force my generation, which from what I can see was largely left to raise itself, to shoulder the burden of supporting its Boomer parents (The “Me Generation” becomes the “Gimme Gimme Generation”) as they fight tooth and nail over that last delicious shipment of Tasty, Tasty America Bars™ that were once available in every corner market in Mayberry and West Mayberry alike. The private sector’s job is to take everything it can grab through your labor, your rigged retirement plan and whatever money the government can borrow on your signature to keep them in mink; and kick your ass out on the street the second you’re no longer–wait for it–tangibly and materially useful, immediately.

The best way I can put it based on my own personal experiences is that I have been cleverly brainwashed into believing that I am a waste of money and I deserve whatever scraps the higher-ups are willing to fart down onto me, and not a scrap more, as I bust my ass and endlessly, ultimately fruitlessly, clamor with the rest for their assurance that I am indeed worthy–not just of a paycheck–but of a good living. I get backed into a corner, it’s my own fault for not being someone else. My job goes overseas and I starve, I must not have been trying hard enough. My CEO runs off with my retirement and leaves me holding a portfolio full of worthless stock, well, sucks to be me. That’s Wall Street for ya. That’s what you get for trying to play that big, bad market casino like the big guns forced you to do.

As a child of divorce, I was conditioned to believe that I was in the way, physically, emotionally and especially financially. As a member of today’s workforce, I feel those attitudes being foisted upon me tenfold. I am a fish, in an ever-shrinking pond, and the guy draining it is telling me I’m an asshole for suffocating.

Let’s see what the fresh-faced, desensitized Leaders of Tomorrow™ will do with all this legitimized behavior as they get ready to assume their thrones in the coming years, shall we?

9th at Corona, this afternoon. Just for shits and grins.

7 replies »

  1. “I am a fish, in an ever-shrinking pond, and the guy draining it is telling me I’m an asshole for suffocating.”

    ^^^ this ^^^

    Yet, the right-wing says “well, if you don’t like it.. come over here and help us drain the pond! once all those asshole fish slowly and painfully die, you’ll be sittin’ pretty!”.

    I guess my problem is that I have a conscience and get physically ill if I hurt someone for no good reason, and since we don’t actually _have_ to drain the pond, don’t actually _have_ to make billions suffer and slowly die, I get ill at the prospect of flopping out of the pond and into the right-wing sewage tank I’d have to ever live in after.

    We just have way too many guppies in this pond.. no one to help collectively create a wave and wash the sewage sharks away..

  2. Ah, yes, brilliant. Truthful. It didn’t get anyone anywhere to say what was said in this article during the Bush Administration (and it was said often and by many, and at least, sometimes, as brilliantly). Will things be different during the Obama Administration? I can only hope someone in the Obama Administration reads the article and lets Obama know where America really is, and how to reach it, because if that happens (or Obama reads it himself), I think (maybe I’m wrong, but I was right about Bush–absolute disaster, predicted well prior to November, 2000–so I think I’m right about Obama) that Obama will actively try to do something about ensuring the American worker (the guy who actually does the work) will benefit at least as much as the banks do from the worker’s actual work. Hope. And investigations. Let neither die for a while.