I get to the job site around 7am. My job site is normally a medium to large middle-upper to upper class development community. We'd just call it a "buried job" because all cable work (electric, tv, phone, etc.) is run underground.
The people who live in these suburban utopias usually do not even notice me. Unless I'm obstructing part of their everyday routine. Most of these folk would argue their individuality for hours while standing in front of their pre-fab homes that look exactly like their neighboring communities, so its pretty easy to obstruct someone's daily routine. However, normally, I'm just a mundane distraction. A necessary evil, perhaps.
I wonder somedays, though, if these residents know what they miss throughout the day. I get to see them leave for work and come home 8-9 hours later. I see to kids go off to school. Their spouses or partners coming and going shopping. I see wives walking around the block with other wives and wonder if even their most intimate partners ever shared this moment. The trashmen come and clean up waste, the leaf collection comes unnoticed. The mail is delivered. The electric company meter readers go passing between yards.
I watch sprinkler systems go off and on. Hear a dog barking in a kitchen. Witness a school bus dropping of kids to empty homes. I see a hundred things that most people would think about unless they were absent, like breath. I watch what makes their communities function according to plan.
Maybe it all means nothing, but its how I get through my day.
I mean, really? A brief list of excuses I've heard this week:
1- don't know enough about candidates.
2- don't like candidates
4- my vote doesn't make a difference
5- I don't care
This sort of apathy leaves me speechless. In a democratic state everyone should vote. It only takes a second kids. Its the only time that you are the government. In a democracy the people elect their servants.
As far as the noted excuses, none are insurmountable. Knowledge is easily acquired if you need to find out more about who's running. There are a zillion websites that offer fact lists.
If you like neither of the main party nominees, vote for someone else. Pencil someone in. Its that easy.
The huh? one shouldn't be encountered without hurting your own fist on the mouth that uttered such words.
An individual vote does make a difference. The electoral college has, in modern times, sided with the popular vote. If you didn't know, you are the popular vote.
Indifference is the slow death of democracy. As a culture, Americans have certainly become disenchanted with their government. The last 8 years have shown how corruption can be allowed to run rampant and still control the masses. Instead of standing up and stopping the problem, Americans have put their head down and become isolationists, hiding from their own ruling class. At one time, not long ago, America was known for its vehement retaliation against unfair governing. Now it seems that their democracy is beginning to turn into what it had so long fought to change. This is the reason your vote should mean more to you. People are not supposed to curl up and shrug their shoulders with indifference in the "Land of the Brave". We're supposed to put our fists in the air and scream for our rights,
Get registered. Seriously. It takes one minute to fill out the paperwork and mail it. This time of year you will usually see someone walking around with a clipboard willing to fill out and mail the form for you. Seriously. Only 70% of the eligible population in the US is registered, which is woefully low. Of that 70%, only half of those registrants actually vote. The highest turnout ever being in 2004 with almost 57%.
Despite being a "free country", I am firmly behind compulsory voting for federal elections. There are penalties when we don't pay our taxes on time or slightly going over an arbitrary speed limit but the only penalty for not casting our vote is too abstract. Compulsory voting would bring the percentage of eligible registered voters to 100% and voter turnout well in the high 90%'s. Maybe its an unpatriotic viewpoint to want compulsory anything in our government, but that doesn't stop pro-lifers from rallying. We let the government make education compulsory 100 years ago. Then we let them make us say "Under God" in our already compulsory Pledge of Allegiance. I could go on but that's for another blog.
We might not agree on our politics and our morality, but there is no good excuse to not be a part of the machine the runs your life once every four years. I wish I believed the rest of the world was wrong when they call us "lazy Americans", but its hard to deny when so many of us refuse to vote for our leaders.
A few years ago I made the decision to cover one of my arms with a tattoo. I had already had a tattoo on my upper arm but having the bottom half done was a big step. Mainly, the job I held at the time would not allow visible tattoos. I knew there were other consequences but they did not seem all that important at the time.
My tattooist (Harry Ake of Headlight Tattoo in Deptford, NJ), of course was delighted to complete my arm but he also questioned my motives and resolve. I solidified my decision and went forth. My arm was finally finished.
Getting past the code of conduct issue of visible tattoos at work was easy. I was already wearing long sleeved shirts and suit jackets everyday. The one thing I did not consider was the reaction of my clients. Now, I am relatively sure that the majority of Americans have no problem with tattooed people, but most of those people are only accustomed seeing one or two tattoos on someone. However, when faced with someone covered completely in tattoos, that same majority looks a little differently at said tattooed person. Just by reaching out my arm to shake someone's hand, I go from respectable business associate to a punk kid in a suit. Mind you, I'm wearing long sleeve shirts so the only visible ink is on my wrist when my sleeve is extended. Often times the conversation would suddenly change into "what is that?". my usual answer was "nothing...just a little tattoo." and try to veer the conversation into its previous subject. No matter how hard I tried to steer some clients away, they still would refer to me as "that guy with tattoos", which on more than one occasion ruined a potential deal.
On my days off I still saw the same prejudices toward tattooed people. Once heavily tattooed you begin to notice people whispering to each other, trying not to point. You see mothers pulling their children closer to them. Some people will interrupt whatever you're doing to ask things like "did that hurt?" as if all of a sudden my time isn't as important as their curiosity. No one ever stops me on the street to ask how I liked Drexel or Rowan Universities, or how making over 6 figures a year affects my taxes and election year voting.
Now believe me, there is not one ounce of regret in me for what I've done. In fact, there are times when I enjoy the attention, or rather the isolation. It just bothers me that after all these hundreds or thousands of years, the common herd mentality attaches a negative connotation to tattoo work.
Today, in my blue collar job, its not much different compared to my previous white collar positions. I can wear short sleeve shirts and jeans now, but I'll put on long sleeves as long as the weather is comfortable. I still hear murmurs from co-workers about "that weirdo with the tattoos." I got the feeling from my boss early on that he didn't trust my judgement for some reason so I had to work a little harder than some to gain level of responsibility I wanted. Though there are no rules against visible tattoos, you can still see the hesitation in peoples actions and responses as they quickly pretend they weren't staring at your tattoo. This tells me that the colors of my body colors their opinion of me.
Its almost as if tattooed people are victims of a modern day form of racism. No one (especially in the company of) will admit their distaste for black or latino people, but they'll be quick to mention that tattoos are dirty or unprofessional. They never stop to realize that tattoos do not exist off of a persons body, therefore making the tattooed person dirty or unprofessional, Its ok to point and stare at the lone tattooed guy or girl at the supermarket but not at someone of a particular race. Maybe its a strange double standard. Maybe most people don't realize what they're doing. Maybe they do and they just don't care. Maybe this happens because a whole world of tattooed people never stood up and cried foul like so many people of color. I assume that this is because we don't care enough. I'd also guess that being tattooed gives you a different perspective on the color of someone's skin and their qualities as a human being. Who knows?
Maybe it would be worth it to rile up the tattooed population to fight for equal rights and combat this discrimination. Maybe not. While I think on this, I'm going to go get my other arm tattooed.
Labor Day was created in 1882 to have "a day off for the working citizens". That's great. Thanks to whoever set that up, I've always enjoyed having this day off. I wonder, though about the people who don't have off and why they're working.
I worked in the retail sector for years. Trying to get off on Labor Day was as blasphemous as asking to have off the day after Thanksgiving. It just doesn't happen. This is mainly due to the fact that school starts within a week and all stores must have they're back-to-school extravaganza sales. Sometimes you have no choice but to hate consumerism. Thousands, maybe millions, of people are working in malls and shopping centers today so little jimmy can get one more pair of jeans. *sigh*
My mother works for the state. She's working today too. I have no idea why. I thought state and federal offices were closed today (they are) but my mother is working.
Where's the equality here? Why can't we all just take one day a year to relax? When will we be able to break free of our need to shop and buy shit as soon as we have a spare ,minute. The answers are simple. Nowhere, we're slaves, and never.
I hope little Jimmy ruins his pants on the first day of school.
I was in 11th grade when my guidance counciler called me. She asked me why I didn't do the majority of my homework. I didn't really have an answer so I just shrugged. She decided I wasn't challenged enough by what our school offered so she told me about the Youth Apprenticeship Program. I'd be able to leave highschool for over a year while taking college courses and working on internships at various companies in the region. Like any young male I said yes.
Less than two years later I was back in college. The program I was previously a part of set me up with enough grant and state funding to give me a free ride. I was majored in chemical engineering with a heavy focus on philosophy. I really didn't know which direction I was headed in.
However, I realized this direction wasn't for me. Not yet, at least. I switch my major over to computer sciences and promptly dropped out. I wasn't done with school though. Over the next couple years I took classes at bigger schools; just earning credits here and there when I had time. The last college experience I had was with the University of Phoenix. Online schooling bored me to the point of dropping out again. I remember before I signed up, the advisor asked me about previous college credits. I told him where to look and he did. He was stupefied that I hadn't graduated yet. I asked him not to add them to my current curriculum. I wanted to just start over. He agreed. He (his name is Dan) called me two weeks ago to let me know I would've graduated that day.
"The world around me can benefit from silence.
This song is my enemy.
Watch how I become it."
I'd wake up at 6am. Tired and nervous. Worried at what the day would bring. I'd practice a fake smile in the mirror while brushing my fake teeth in the shower. Shoes by Aldo. Slacks and button up shirt by Banana Republic. Sweater by Diesel. Tie (half widsor knot) and overcoat by Calvin Klein. The shitty bag I carried was a piece of vendor swag. Hair done, ass wiped and ready to rule the world. At least until I walked outside.
On the train going from New Jersey to Philadelphia, I'd pretend to read. I was too bored to really concentrate. Being here drove me half mad with disappointment. Getting off the train at 16th and Locust, I'd make my way towards Liberty 1 and get ready to start my day.
I used to stare at all of us milling towards the heart of this great city. Each one of us dreaming of leaving our mark. Or at least making it out alive and rich. Each one of us looking like we came directly out of the factory that produces white collared white people. The only marks we left were under our armpits from sweat. Fear gripping us all while we smiled at each other.