Saturday 01 Oct 2016

You Better Hope
AJ Robinson

No one is more dangerous than when she or he has nothing to lose. I know the feeling. In the last few years, much has changed in my life and it seems I don’t care about a great many things, anymore.

I don’t care about how well the schools are doing. My daughter is in college now. What does it matter to me if the public schools suck?

I’m underwater in my mortgage. My wife and I decided to let the bank take the house back. We’re months behind in the payments. There’s no way we could hope to catch up. I don’t care about the real estate market, whether it ever recovers. Given my age, I’ll never own a house again.

I used to be a professional, an engineer. I cared about how well my company and my co-workers did, but not now. I’m a bartender; company loyalty isn’t that strong or important. As most of my income is now in cash, I couldn’t care less about taxes. I barely make enough money to have to pay any.

I don’t have any sort of retirement fund. I have no 401k or anything like that. I used to have a 401k, but most of its value was lost in the recession. Then I had to cash what was left for money to live on, the same with my life insurance. I don’t care what happens to the stock market, let it crash, it is not my problem.

I’m nearly fifty. Social Security and Medicare should be important to me, but aren’t. I don’t have medical insurance, haven’t had it for a year. I know what my future holds.

I won’t go to a physician for regular checkups or tests that might catch a medical problem in its early stage. No, I’ll delay and delay as long as possible, lacking the money for even a routine physical, until the pain of some malady forces me to go. The physician will find something treatable, if it had been caught sooner; by then only the most aggressive and expensive treatment will save me. Of course, not having insurance will mean that won’t be available to me.

I probably won’t live to collect Social Security. Even if I did, the government is probably going to gut the programme. I’ll never collect a dime. As a result, there’s very little in this country left for me to care about. I guess that makes me one of those dangerous men.

Except there’s one small item called hope. As the saying goes, hope springs eternal. Rather than lash out, rather than embark on a life of crime, I can’t help but hope for a better future. To be honest, that flame of hope is quite small, just a tiny flicker, and it has nearly gone out.

The flicker struggles to burn and I cling to that hope. I hope this nation, American, will abandon the failed practices of the last decade and begin the rebuilding process. When I see young people engaging in the “Occupy Wall Street” movement, it truly gives me hop.

Will it be in time to improve the quality of my life? To be honest, I doubt it. No, my hope is that my daughter and her friends and family will inherit a better life.

It used to be that we expected our children to have a better life. Now, it’s not so certain. That is what truly concerns me.

Combining the gimlet-eye, of Philip Roth, with the precisive mind of Lionel Trilling, AJ Robinson writes about what goes bump in the mind, of 21st century adults. Raised in Boston, with summers on Martha's Vineyard, AJ now lives in Florida. Most of the time he writes, but sometimes he works at Disney World to renew his fantasies and get a few dollars more. AJ writes, with insight and passion, about his family and his dog. His liberal, note the small "l," sensibilities often lead to bouts of righteous indignation, well focused and true.

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