Monday, December 9, 2013
The Kid Wanted Tacos
"So," the woman said after she had taken a small sip from her cocktail, "How long have you considered yourself a Positivist?"
The man seated next to her placed his hat, one of those British trilby's that frequently gets confused with a fedora, on the bar next to his phone and started to speak, then stopped as if he was mentally rechecking his math, and then said, "I think it was near the end of 11th grade, so I was probably 16 going on 17. That would make it about 17 years now."
"Seventeen years. Have you discovered any solutions to the world's problems yet?" Her eyes focused on the hat as she spoke, then moved up to the face of the owner of the hat.
"No, not really. About all I have been able to conclude is that everything we humans have come up with over the centuries to try to create egalitarian societies has been just as worthless as the systems that they were designed to replace. No matter how good the intentions of the people in power, all any of them ever did - Lenin, Mao, Castro, whoever, was use the threat of or actual implementation of imprisonment or death to do whatever they wanted to do regardless of how detrimental it was to anyone else."
"Sounds to me like you've been disillusioned and have abandoned the convictions of your youth. Did that happen in college?" As she said this her phone started to ping with the alert that a text was coming in, and she picked it up off the bar to look at the screen.
The man took a long draw off his beer as she read the text message. With an affected gesture he wiped the foam from his mustache as he set the beer back down on the coaster. The bar was half-full, which wasn't bad for a Tuesday evening. The TV's were all switched to a sports channel that was currently showing highlights of an English League Soccer match from the past weekend.
"Sorry about that, my kid wants me to pick up some Taco Bell on my way home. Where were we? Oh yeah, I was asking if you became jaded to your ideals in college."
With a slight smirk the man looked at the woman. "I didn't really go to college. I mean, I spent a few semesters going to community college, but I really didn't like it. Nothing interested me much, and everyone seemed to be either in full-on party mode all the time or just full of themselves."
"Didn't you tell me you worked in IT? How did you get a job in IT without going to college?"
"I started building computers when I was in High School. What I do is really not much different than repairing a car. How many mechanics do you know that went to college? Most of them just started working on cars when they were kids, just like I started working on computers when I was a kid."
"But don't you have to write code and find viruses and stuff like that?"
"Not really. I'm a hardware guy. Those are things the software people do."
"Oh. Well, then what was it that changed your mind about twentieth century political philosophies?" Her left hand cradled her phone while she lifted her drink with her right, and when she set the empty glass down the barkeep cast a questioning glance her way. She nodded her answer to the unspoken query.
"When I was 22 I left the states and hitchhiked around Europe. I lived rough for a little over two years, finding under-the-counter work in Internet cafes or small computer stores. It was quite the education. For an area of the world that claims to be enlightened, Europe is chock full of class separations, racism - ethnic and secular divisions, the same haves and have-nots and posturing elitists with bullshit solutions that we have right here in the States."
As the barkeep placed a fresh cocktail in front of her the woman said, "Wow, it sounds like you had a lot of fun seeing the world. Didn't you find one place that you liked?'
"Oh yeah, plenty of places actually. I mean, it's not like the average person I met in France or Portugal was an asshat, It's just that I went over there with the idea that the whole of Europe was some culturally and socially enlightened place, and it just wasn't. It was pretty much exactly like the States - all kinds of different people with all kinds of different ideas and attitudes, some good, some bad. The form of government had little bearing on the character of the people. It's not like greed or selfishness or inequality disappeared once a socialist government was in place. The people might have had affordable healthcare, but that didn't mean that they were all walking around the picture of health, you know? People treat themselves and each other great or shitty depending on who they are, and the system of government they live under really has no bearing on that."
The woman finished her second cocktail and set the glass down, then got up off her seat. "You are truly an interesting person, but I have to get going - the kid wants tacos. Maybe we'll run into each other here again sometime. Have a great night."
She placed $12.00 on the bar and walked out with one quick glance back. The man picked up his beer and downed it in one big gulp. The barkeep walked over and collected the $12.00 the woman left for the $11.00 check and asked the man if he wanted another. The man said yes and started reading the menu. It was going to be another night of bar food, but what the hell, you only live once.