- Jack: You're a slave.
- Voice: No I'm not; I could quit.
- Jack: Quit and do what?
- Voice: And get another job.
- Jack: That doesn't make you not a slave; it just makes you a free agent.
- Voice: Yes; free.
- Jack: No, a free agent football player is still a football player: he just has the option to play for another team. So a free agent slave is still a slave: he just has the option to work for a different master. Dig?
- Voice: Well then what else do you do if not get another job? Be a bum?
- Jack: Exactly! To effectively enslave almost all of humanity, you would have to make the idea of not being a slave unthinkable, enculturate people to believe that there is nothing outside of slavery, nowhere to run if you did run, stigmatize those that won't drink the koolaid, villainize them. Geez, what a racket.
- Voice: You are way out there my friend.
- Jack: Yeah.
My natural reaction to new information is to question it: What is the source? What are the stakes? Who are the primary stake holders, and what are their motivations? It goes on like that until I am satisfied and fully accept the information, I reject it, or I determine that the questions cannot be answered adequately, and I have to be content to remain skeptical. This is how I do it. This is how I process the world. This is my way.
Most of the time it works out just fine, but sometimes I know I can be ridiculous about it. For instance, there is the moon landing. When presented with the idea that man has landed on the moon before I was even born, my reaction was “cool, where did you hear that from?” Of course it was from the United States government as if the government never lies or participates in shady business. What about the time in the 1940’s when they infected people with STD’s in order to study the effects. It’s true; look it up. As a matter of fact, we just got around to apologizing for that:
I realize that I can be a bit out of the mainstream in my skepticism and can even over do it at times. Having said that, there is a difference between being a skeptic and being a cynic. The words are not interchangeable. I don’t have a dark and dreary view of the world; I like the world. I just don’t take it at face value. I don’t believe everyone is bad or evil. I believe that there is both good and bad in the world. There is also deceit. This opens the very real possibility that a bad thing presents itself as a good thing, and of course the opposite can be true. Moreover, many situations are not black and white, not good or bad. Life is complicated—or invigorated—with a thousand shades of gray.
So I question. Too much? Maybe. I don’t know. What I do know is that, if an untrusted source tells me the sky is blue, I’ll look up.
I started talking to Sheila, the new server at the club. She was a first generation America; both her parents came here from India, which explained her exoticly dark eyes and creamy tan skin. She was Kate Moss skinny with a small frame and an tiny butt, making it easy to mistake her for someone much younger—her little plastic hair barrettes didn’t help with that. Sheila attended the University of Akron too—a communication major—and lived off campus in Spicer Town. I thought that was very cool; when Jenn wasn’t on campus, I would actually have someone to talk to.
Sheila and I started meeting up in the smoking section of Gardner student center. We would sit there in between classes smoking and talking. It quickly became a habit, and I started looking forward to seeing her. She knew I was with Jenn, and she liked this guy named Bill, but I think we were kind of digging on each other in a cool and unspoken way.
We started confiding in each other. She would tell me about Bill while she puffed away on her Camel Special Lights, and would ask for advice and stuff, and I would talk to her about Jenn while shredding my lungs with Newports.
“God, how do you smoke those?” she asked with a wrinkled expression.
“I don’t know; it’s what Jenn smokes, so it just kind of works out I guess.” Admittedly, the menthol of the Newports was pretty harsh. She offered me one of hers:
I opened my Zippo with a ting, lit it, and inhaled with increasing intensity. “Doesn’t feel like I’m even getting anything out of it.” After Newports, I might as well have been puffing on a candy cigarette.
“Whatever, you’ll live longer; those things are so bad for you.”
“You know,” I said, changing the subject and taking a more serious tone, “I’m thinking about moving out.” I explained to her that things weren’t going so great with Jenn. I told her about what I read in the diary. “We aren’t breaking up or anything. I think I’m just going to move out.”
“Great,” she said nonchalantly, “I rented an apartment on Spicer Street. I need some roommates.” Just like that: swift, smooth, right to it.
“I mean I gotta see; we have to talk about it and stuff, but yeah, yeah I want to.”
“Ok let me know, she said with an innocent voice.” I really wanted to move in with her. I determined to settle it with Jenn. We didn’t have to break up, as far as I was concerned, but the living together needed to stop. I didn’t know how it would go, but I knew what I wanted. I wanted to live in Spicer Town with Sheila.