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When I was in third or fourth grade, we were taught an elementary school version of the horrors of the Holocaust, and a kid in my class asked why the Germans did it.

Mrs Brandt had already covered that, and it was in the textbook, but she softly sighed and said, "They killed people for being different." She was trying to make it as simple as possible to understand, but what boggled my brain — maybe more then the millions dead — was when she said Germany was a democracy, "just like America."

Democracies can kill millions of their own people?

Now I'm old and gray and still baffled, but I can see how it happened. It's happening here in America, right now, and as I look back, it's been happening all my life.

It's always been building toward this moment, or the next moment, when something historically ugly is going to happen. 

Most people are basically followers, and when leaders tell us to hate each other, most of us hate each other. Now, American leaders on one side are telling us to hate, and leaders on the other side are saying nothing.

I catch the 6:50 bus in the morning, and in not much more than half an hour I'm downtown. Then I walk twenty minutes, or more often take another, very short bus ride and walk ten minutes, and I'm at the office.

It's just a job five days a week, but I'm old and it's tiring, and the weekends are not enough. And apparently, there's always overtime. They have me working 8AM-5PM with a half-hour for lunch, which adds up to 8½ hours daily, plus we stay after 5:00 to answer any calls that rang into the queue before closing time.

I don't hate the work. Almost like it, actually. But me being old and in lousy shape, it's more exhausting than any job I've ever had. So much talking to people, and so much time getting there and getting back.

When the bus brings me home at the end of the day, it's really the end of the day. I waddle across the street, into the house, make myself two sandwiches and a pot of cheap ramen, and there's no energy for anything that takes energy. Like writing.

Sometimes I get horny, but it's pointless. I'm too tuckered to masturbate.

Yesterday, Saturday, there were errands to be run, and back from the errands I napped for a few hours, surfed the web, napped some more, read a book. Finally I found the gumption to write a post for the blog, thinking it was 7:30 on Saturday night, but it kept getting brighter out the window, and eventually I figured out it was 8:00 Sunday morning.

Sunday. It's fuckin' Sunday already. Tomorrow at this time I'll be answering phones, and as soon as each call is over, another call rings through.

It's become thuddingly clear that I'm probably too old to be working full-time, but it's not optional. Life is made of decisions, and most of mine have been stupid. For many years I worked under the table, so there's little Social Security waiting for me. The tiny nest-egg I'd accumulated got spent doing nothing for the last year and a half.

Long ago I decided retirement wasn't feasible, that I'd work until I dropped, and the time is now, or soon. A little heart attack never hurt anybody, right?

I'm done with George, my stoner nephew. In one of our banal text conversations, somehow the sport of soccer came up, and his instant remark was, "Soccer is for faggots." 

"Fuck off," I texted back, but despite his asking I won't be explaining it further. Dude's almost 50 years old, and if he doesn't grasp common decency yet, he never will.

A bit more than a month ago on Craigslist, I posted a 21st century version of my old "I'll do anything legal" ads. No work has come from it, and now that I'm employed I'd turn everything down anyway, but there have been a few inquiries.

Someone wanted me to be a bodyguard for her daughter as she packed and moved out on her abusive husband. "There's a restraining order," I was told, "so he probably won't be there, but just in case."

I wished her good luck and sent the phone number for a company that provides security guards. But no, I'm not interested in a job that might involve being beaten up or shot at.

Someone else wanted help painting a house, but tried to negotiate a lower price than the $18 an hour I'd asked. By then I had job interviews lined up, so I didn't even reply, but $18 an hour is two bucks less than Seattle's $19.97 minimum wage. If that's not a good enough bargain, fuck off.

Someone else chided me for the last line of my ad, which said something like, "I'll be masked, because it's been three years without even a sniffle and I'm going for four."

His email said, "I wouldn't hire someone who won't even show me his face," and went on to brag that he has 40 employees and none of them ever wore masks.

Again, I didn't even reply. My nephew got a "Fuck off" from me, but that's because he's my nephew. Strangers don't even deserve two syllables.

1/7/2024   

11 comments:

  1. Your nephew's a jackass...doesn't he care to see that Nazis first persecuted LGBTs, even before the Jews? And when you start there, you open the floodgates to persecution of many other innocent populations. Same mindset of many Americans that all Europeans are f*ggots, (and soccer is a European sport). At this point in time, I imagine everyone else in the world is a f*ggot in the eyes of right-wing American troglodytes. Except, of course, Russia under Putin's heel. And maybe North Korea.

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    1. Neph George is not a brilliant man, nor even of average intelligence. I've written him off like the rest of MAGA world, but I hadn't known that the Nazis *started* with LGBTQs.

      My brother Dick is even more MAGA than George, and my other brother Clay I suspect, but they know better than to say much about it around me.

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    2. Let's be clear about the Holocaust. The Germans killed between 5 and 15 thousand homosexuals. They killed 250,000 - 500,000 Romani (Gypsies). They killed millions of European civilians in the course of the war. They killed about six million Jews. It doesn't matter who they started with: They were after the Jews. These are Wikipedia numbers. They reflect historians' best estimates of the actions of the German nation under Nazi leadership. Every death was wrong.

      John

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    3. Why, though? Why hate Jews? Can't see any logic in it, even stupid logic.

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    4. Ah, a self-answering question.

      jtb

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    5. I've caterwauled about this before, so this is recaterwaulling, but when people hate other ethnic groups they at least *look* different. Jews, though, look like any other white people. They worship an earlier version of the same god, which is of no matter whatsoever, so I don't get it. Humans and their hatreds, man.

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    6. Bro, you tryin' to make sense out of prejudice? Illiterate miscreants like your brothers and Trump don't need a reason to hate, so they make shit up. "Illiterate" in this context means a refusal to learn. The economy is in the toilet because of equity imbalance so we blame poor people. It's not always easy to identify poor people, so we blame Black people. You'll go crazy trying to make sense of it.

      I had a Friday night dinner with a couple of my friends for 20 years or so. I stopped going because they got on the Trumpwagon. I will not take a meal with anybody who practices hatred as a political position. You will make your own rules.

      John

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    7. I argue with myself about staying in touch with my brother Dick. Maybe I oughta walk away like you and the Friday dinners. He is certainly not someone I'd choose as a friend — I've *never* had a conversation with him about anything serious, only sports, his amateur music, and snippets from our childhoods. Once or twice a month he tries talking Trump at me, and I ignore it. What I ought to do is tell him he's an imbecile and explain why, but it's hard to convince anyone they're an imbecile, especially imbeciles. I'd lose a brother, and I only have two, and the other is Trumpy too, he just doesn't talk about it...

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    8. Man, I'm the last guy on Earth qualified to give family advice. And, as it happens, I don't have this particular problem. I walk into my sister's house and she shouts, "Did you hear what that bastard said today?" My Friday night guys are 40 year friends, and we were once brothers in arms, but we were never brothers. I honestly don't know what I'd do if we were.

      John

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    9. But there are some first principles. For example, love is better than hate so frequently that it's almost an absolute.

      John

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    10. Except for the insane, like the understanding spouse who can't stop loving the person who's beating them, or, same diff, the patriot who hates anyone who says anything unpleasant about their beloved America.

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