It Hurt Like The Dickens

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief,
it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to
heaven, we were all going direct the other way – in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.

Charles Dickens

The book were found by his bedside, its pages dog-eared and
tattered from previous owners. The ticket marked his place. Looking back now,was it his place in the book he marked or a message of despair shared in modern times? I had been asked by his family to gather his few things and forward them to them after his untimely passing.

No one saw it coming. He was a genuinely happy person, positive
and full of life most days. While he was not a religious man, he certainly was spiritual in his own way. I laughed when I recalled a conversation we had had about a popular Televangelist named Joel Osteen. He said he watched him one Sunday, and became more confused than ever about God. He said if God were reaching out to him, it shouldn’t feel like the messenger was the same guy who sold him a 2006 Nissan. It was that kind of wit and humor I would miss the most. I thought he boarders between brilliant and mad with each conversation we had. And to this day, I remain uncertain as to which theory was more valid.

I know he would find the question laughable, how many times did I hear him say “I’m just a regular guy my friend.” And yet I was now connecting the dots. Hindsight is always 20/20, yet there was no denying these too were strange times. He had become obsessed with the state of the country, and the politicians who were ruining
it. Strange times: indeed.

A time when all we were raised to believe in, god and country were called in to question on a daily basis it seemed. Nothing made
much damn sense anymore. Politicians that used to tout the American dream of hard work and sacrifice paying off. Now mocked the middle and lower classes,yet they still wanted the sacrifices. It was a time when tax cuts for the rich were sold as trickling down to the lower classes and creating jobs. In reality they only created deficits. The social safety net he had paid in to his entire working life, were now unfairly pointed to as a cause of the deficits. His American dream became a living nightmare. The politician’s sided with the rich, selling their representation like a street corner prostitute.

Radical groups were created to carry this new message to the masses. They masquerade as Patriots, prostituting even the remnants of American history to advance the cause. It seemed the aforementioned American dream, now only a ticket to hell. Former Patriotic rallying cries of “buy American” or  “look for the union label” replaced with angry rants of “take our country back.” We both agreed they meant to the 19th century.

And as I think back, he had punched many a ticket in search of the dream. As a child he stayed in school while staying out of trouble. As a
young man, working through high school, worked his way through college in only six short years. He worked his entire career for “less money, but great potential.” Yeah that was the ticket. Joined in the American dream, home ownership, raised the requisite 2.5 kid’s. Hell he had 2 pets too. Yes he had lived the dream.

And don’t even mention 401k’s. In the end, he said it simply meant the total of the amount he lost between the mortgage collapse of 2008 and
the black Friday stock market fiasco of 2001.

And the terror events of 9-11, plus the subsequent war, it wore on him. I watched him age before my eyes.

None the less a good trooper, he soldiered on, right in to the great recession. It was the worst economy since the great depression. His
business dried up and died. Another casualty of the rust belt I suppose. Yet he somehow kept going hoping for better times ahead.

As I think back now I believe the final straw was the battle over the lifting of the debt ceiling. He simply lost all faith during the debates that raged. I guess he just couldn’t take anymore, or perhaps sacrifice anymore. It seemed my friend were just one of the early to take their exit.
Little fanfare or media attention was paid to the plight of the middle class male. There were no film reels of them jumping from buildings like during the great depression. It happened much slower, daily their self-esteem and values were stripped from them.

I drove to the local supermarket; conveniently located within was the UPS store. I addressed and sent the box on to his brother. I also bought my milk and a lottery ticket. I returned to my car, and slipped the ticket in to the book I kept. Earmarking the same page my friend had. As I drove home, I listened to talk radio and the posturing and debate on the raising of the debt ceiling.

I understood completely now, it was a message about the Tale of Two cities all the time, but I had lost another friend. and it hurt like the dickens.

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~ by onthedarkside on July 24, 2011.

2 Responses to “It Hurt Like The Dickens”

  1. Kevin, you have painted a dreary picture. Feels less like fiction and more like a documentary. Entertaining nonetheless.

  2. Nancy, Sadly I did lose the friend. Fiction.?… partly, a little bit of each of us in this tale I am sad to say. Troubling times in the country.

    Have been having issues with wordpress, noticed a large part of the story was cut out. Try back tomorrow,I will try to resolve it.

    As always, thanks for reading and sharing feedback.
    Best
    Kevin

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