My (Still) Dearest Bernicio,
I’m not writing this on my office email. As of 10:00 AM this morning, I have no office email. Or office. What do I have? Fury, anger, rage and hate. All in abondanza. Also, a thought I’ve been fighting for a long, long time.
You were right, maybe, to decide that you wouldn’t be part of what America’s becoming. Maybe, in my own way, I might be on my way to making the same decision.
Too early to tell. Far too early. You don’t write off your country like you’re changing toothpaste brands. Anyway, this is my tale.
The session in the managing partner’s office was brief and brutal. No partnership for moi or any of the other associates, in fear and trembling assembled. No jobs, either, anymore. We’re outsourcing to countries where their English sucks but they work cheap, no benefits required, and if you want your severance packages, you’ll sign, right now, this non-disclosure/total silence agreement about what’s being done to you. Here. Sign.
The other associates just sat there with their jaws down around their collar bones. I didn’t. I told that sphincter, “Listen, I know the law, and if you don’t shred those waste-paper (I used another term) agreements and come across with everybody’s rightful severance, right now, you’ll be facing an immediate class-action lawsuit, a criminal complaint, and more ugly publicity than you can handle.”
We got our packages. We found other packages waiting for us in our offices. Moving boxes, actually. Plus one security guard per trashed associate.
“Don’t bother with the computer. They’ve terminated your access. Take only personal items. I’ll be watching and have to sign off, that’s all you took. When you’re all boxed-up, I’ll take your badge and escort you to the front door. Fifteen minutes. Let’s go.”
I don’t blame that guard. He had the decency to look embarrassed. So who do I blame?
I blame America.
Yeah, yeah, yeah. I know. I know. A recession’s when your neighbor is out of a job. A depression’s when you’re out of a job. Which makes me remember that old Steinbeck story about the guy who’s getting evicted from his farm during the Depression and he’s thinking about shooting the foreclosure agent. But the agent’s not to blame, he’s just doing his job and lucky to have one. So the farmer starts wondering. Who is to blame when innocent, honest, productive people have their lives destroyed? Somebody, somewhere, must be responsible.
This isn’t some inscrutable God we’re talking about. This is us. This is what we do to each other.
I blame America.
No, I’m not looking for sympathy. You know me better than that. I’m OK financially for the next year or so, especially if I skip a few payments on my student loans. I’ll consider it as making a statement about naïve young people going six figures into debt to prepare for jobs that aren’t there, and won’t be.
Now, I’m in no great hurry to find my next “career path,” as the HR twits and the counselor twats call it. I might even consider starting something of my own. Succeed or fail honestly, not because somebody somewhere decided to make my future go poof. But I want to take a couple weeks off, before starting to think about any decisions. Maybe travel to someplace I’ve never been before.
No hint. Straight out. I, who refused to marry you because you were moving to Israel, would like to come visit you in Israel.
How’s that for – what’s the Yiddish word that you occasionally, sometimes more than occasionally, applied to me?
How’s that for chutzpah?
So why do I want to visit you? To relight the fire? What happens in that regard, happens, and we’re both grown up enough not to get too torqued if it doesn’t. To travel? Yes. But with a purpose beyond mere R & R.
So my real reason, other than you, of course, is this.
I don’t want to go anywhere nice. No place fashionable. I don’t want to dig my toes into some corporation’s overpriced sand or tour some gouge-the-Americans postcard little country that’s not mad at nobody and nobody’s mad at them. I want to take a look at someplace that’s eyeballs-deep in trouble and see how the people live it and maybe, just maybe, how they might, just might, fight it.
Why? Because when you said you wouldn’t be complicit in what America’s becoming, you also said you were going because you wanted to do something that mattered. I know you haven’t been there long enough to get that, or even get at it. But I want to take a look, see for myself if that’s possible in Israel. If it is, maybe even get some ideas as to why, and how I might use them myself.
I also want to go to a place that more and more Americans are starting to hate without ever having been there, knowing only what other people are paid to tell them, and believing it without even a pretense of thinking it over for themselves.
People will always tell you what they want you to know. It’s what they don’t want you to know, that matters.
I always want to know what people don’t want me to know.
OK, end of rant. The way I feel now, I just want a break from America.
Can do, sweetheart?