When I was a kid, my dad went through a few bouts of unemployment. It seemed that every few years whatever company he was working for would decide that he could be replaced by someone younger and cheaper. The way I would find out that my dad had been laid off was that I would get home from school and he would be sitting in his bath robe, smoking cigarettes, circling employment ads in the newspaper.
It was a horrible, horrible feeling to come home to that. The tension of money issues, failure, and stress hung thicker in the air than the smoke from his cigarettes.
But my dad has never been a guy who makes excuses and as stressed out as he would feel, he always did a pretty good job of putting a smile on his face and convincing the family that everything was going to be fine and that he would find a new company to work for.
“That’s life,” he’d say, as he was fond of saying about a lot of shitty things he couldn’t control.
I remember vividly the day when my dad lost hope. It was the mid-90's, I was somewhere around 17 years old. My dad and I were driving in his 1982 Cadillac Eldorado. It was a huge, hunk of shit of a car. It had two doors which together probably weighed as much as a Honda Civic. It was a rich, turd-brown color.
It was a sunny, summer day and we were riding with the windows down, my dad powering through Parliaments, his silver hair blowing all over the place. He’d lost his job and in the search for a new one he’d ended up “interviewing” for a company that sells overpriced financial instruments using multi-level marketing. It was a essentially a pyramid scheme that wasted weeks of my dad’s time while he earned nothing.
“You know, the whole thing is bullshit,” he said.
My dad is a civil engineer. He designs roadways, bridges, drainage systems, and lots of other infrastructure that most people never notice. He’s like an architect for the things no one wants to think about. It’s a job that half a century ago would’ve guaranteed you a solid middle class salary and comfortable retirement. But in the 80's and 90's, as with most other industries, companies consolidated, went public, became beholden to shareholders, cut benefits and labor costs, outsourced, and turned their sole focus to profit margins. It turned a guy like my dad, who had a ton of experience, into a liability rather than an asset.
“No one is going to look out for you but you,” he scolded. “These companies, they don’t give a shit about you. They don’t care if you have a family. They don’t even care if you’re good at your job. You work your whole fuckin’ life for these people, and they truly don’t give a shit. There are no more good companies. They’re all rotten. If you don’t figure out a way to work for yourself, they’re going to screw you. You can’t be a nice guy and work hard and get ahead. That doesn’t work anymore. You walk into these companies and all they do is see what they can get from you. Remember that. You don’t owe them anything. If you give more, they’ll just take it.”
God, I loved hearing that from my dad. At every job he ever worked, he was the guy who came in early and stayed late. He was the one the younger guys would pass their work off to so he could stay late and fix their mistakes. He was the one who came in on Saturday and Sunday because shit needed to get done. And each time he was unceremoniously let go because he was too close to the top of the labor costs list.
I never forgot that day because it felt so honest. For the first and only time, that I witnessed, my dad was angry about the way the world had changed. He was bitter and cynical. And after that day, he tucked those feelings back down into wherever they came from, eventually found a new job, and kept moving on.
The whole thing is bullshit, though.
Who should be the next president of the United States? I don’t know. Who gives a shit? The President of the United States is a person that gets to lead just one of the three branches of government of a country that has less than five percent of the population of a planet that makes up less than 1/300,000th of the mass of its own tiny solar system, for a period of time that will amount to less than one-billionth of the current age of the planet.
In the grand scheme of things, it’s hard to think of anything that matters less than who will be the next president.
And if you turn this scrutiny to yourself, and your own importance in the universe — hell, even if you limit it to just your importance in this election — you’ll find that you’re pretty inconsequential as well.
The people in this election don’t see this, though. They aren’t normal functioning humans. They’re people with damaged souls whose egos suffer from malignant growth. They’re people who think the world has order and believe that justice exists. They’re people who have the audacity to believe they can make the world a place where we aren’t all just fighting for our own survival.
Ultimately, these are people who are terrified of death. They’re so afraid of dying and not mattering, that they will do and say literally anything in hopes that if they cannot live forever, that someone, somewhere, someday a long time into the future, will say their name, and they will continue to live. These people seem unconcerned with the fact that continents bubble and swirl around earth’s surface and someday, not long from now in cosmic terms - although certainly long after our extinction - our civilization and all trace of us will be plunged into the mantle of the earth to someday, yet again, be spouted through a volcano to make up the ground that maybe someday a billion years from now, an alien cow will stand over and take a shit.
You might die tomorrow. You might fucking die today. Which candidate has a plan for that? These assholes don’t care about you, can’t you see that? You gotta take care of you.
So, I don’t know, vote for Bernie or Rubio or, fuck it, vote for Trump. That’d be funny.
You gotta take care of you, though. Stop caring so much about this election. The whole thing is bullshit.