(photo by WebMotiva.com
By David Glenn Cox
It is a curiosity, these things which hide from us and call out to us, like someone who knows us all too well. While we move swiftly their call makes us pick up our pace even more and pretend not to hear them at all. America is a nation afraid of itself, afraid to slow down out of fear of what we will see. It is a nation in love with its own image, afraid that the truth will show us to be more than just a liar.
Teabags, fleabags, bailouts, shootouts, shout outs, rain outs or redoubts, don’t you know what it is all about? Tis all pyrite, frosting for the cake that the poor shall be allowed to eat. Maybe you have wondered where I have gotten off to; perhaps you didn’t give it a thought. Maybe I was on vacation to some far off tropical isle in the warm sun, or maybe on a sabbatical to improve myself through educational opportunity. Well, maybe.
I have been on a journey to a far away place unknown to most, a land right around the corner from you but a million miles away in a parallel universe. A place where the ticket is want and the destination is need, and you arrive by not having and you leave when you do. A shadow world, a twilight existence, a place where people look at you as if you are unreal, because you are.
I am in a place that has become a continual, repetitive nightmare in my life; I am homeless in America. Land of the free and home of the don’t give a fuck. Don’t cry for me Argentina, do it the American way. Just look away and don’t make eye contact.
I became homeless the first time in my life when I was 17, when due to my mother’s sudden death my family literally disintegrated in midair. My siblings and I were too young to help each other so we separated and did what we could for ourselves. I slept on a couch and in a garage, doing the best I could. I was young then. I believed the propaganda, any boy could be President; anyone could make it in America. Some do, just as some salmon make it all the way upstream, but if you stop swimming for even a moment you are washed away. Or maybe you are diverted into a back channel and lost?
You see, it is not how hard you swim or how swift your fin for it is uphill all the way, and the current is relentless. At 17 I worked in a tire store and was promoted to manager. The boss helped me to get my drivers license because he felt sorry for me and didn’t want me to back into the tire rack with the customers’ cars again. When he went out of business I went to another tire store only to be told that I was too young to be a manager. Now perhaps if I was willing to work again as a tire changer they might consider me in a year or two for management.
Only in America, where once I was too young now I am too old. I’ve worked every week for 27 years without missing a paycheck. I bought houses and new cars; I bought into the dream and played the game as it was supposed to be played. Then, seven years ago, divorce destroyed my family. The court system raped me and abused all involved, except for the judges and the lawyers. I learned that all I was really fighting for was an illusion, an illusion fostered by the attorneys as they filled their pockets and shouted their encouragement to me.
I began again and married for kindness, but my job moved away from us. The times were good and I thought that perhaps the American dream could work for me, too. Then the economy went sour and my business disappeared. I looked for jobs, at first picking and choosing fields appropriate for my talents. Then, not being so selective, I looked for anything that I could find. During the last round of elections I worked the polls for the primaries and the general elections. I was promoted to assistant manager but the next elections are 14 months away. I began looking at everything that was available. I’ve applied as a janitor, house painter, school bus driver, and been turned down for them all.
My resume tells of 20 plus years of experience, but in America that means I am a threat to an employer’s healthcare premiums. Why should they hire someone older? He might hurt himself; why not hire a kid? There are plenty of them and they don’t ask questions. My father-in-law, the patriarch of a family of know-it-alls, suggested fast food. His not so subtle comments were not lost on me. He worked 20 years at a union job without ever joining the union. His pride did not stop him from reaping the rewards while riding on the back of other’s struggles, so it was his opinion that I should not be so prideful and should let others ride on my back.
That is America after all, kill or be killed. Ride on someone’s back or let them ride on your back. Dignity is an option only available on the luxury models. Because I was self-employed and because I tried for too long to kick start the business, I have no unemployment benefits. I paid in for 27 years and when I need them I get bubkis! There is no aide. There is no government program; there is nothing. Land of the free and home of the don’t give a fuck.
These tea baggers are mere tits on a boar hog, useless, meaningless and pointless. A sugar cookie distraction to make you forget that freedom means that this country owes you nothing. You’re free to starve and you’re free to die in an alley. To the millions who have lost homes, families, and marriages it says, fuck off, you’re not my problem. To the homeless vets dealing with war injuries of conscience and nightmares of the soul it says, you were sick when you went in so you’re not our problem. To those sleeping in their cars it says move along. When those cars break down it tows them away and pushes them down further into the next level of Dante’s inferno.
America will send a football star to prison and ruin him financially for animal cruelty but doesn’t give a thought to where the millions losing their homes and jobs will go. Some cry it is our own fault because we didn’t love Jesus hard enough. But there is more to this picture than meets the eye. I am homeless royalty. I have a warm, dry place to sleep and a toilet. Of all that I’ve lost, I miss my fear the least, for they can’t hurt me now. I see them as they truly are and through a different lens than you.
Loving America is like loving a movie starlet. You see all the pictures and read all the magazines, but what you are buying is a fabricated image. While she may blow you kisses into the crowd, she doesn’t love you. She doesn’t know you and she doesn’t want to know you. She is a Hollywood harlot and you are a rube, foolishly expecting her to love you back when all she wanted was your money, and when that’s gone it’s time for you to hit the bricks; to make like cow shit and hit the trail. After all, she only played your mother in the movie version of your life, so take your freedom and go. She is nothing but a stone idol and a graven image; a Madison Avenue ad campaign. Smoke ’em if you got ’em, gets out ground-in dirt, land of the free and home of the don’t give a fuck!
So keep moving, nothing to see here! Pick up the pace and look away; don’t make eye contact or you might lose something carefully crafted for you. You might lose the image of America. And if you lose that then you must look at these ugly things as they really are and realize that I am you and you are me. That we are all one, no matter what Fox News tells you.
Ben Cohen is the editor and founder of The Daily Banter. He lives in Washington DC where he does podcasts, teaches Martial Arts, and tries to be a good father. He would be extremely disturbed if you took him too seriously.