This is difficult to write. One does not want to showcase his dark side. Yet, truth must out. Here’s my dirty little secret.
I have good friends who are New Mexico bankers. Yes, among that despised crowd with their imperial debit card charges and overdraft criminality are those who seem to be pretty good people.
Ever courageous, I never acknowledge this in public.
Confronted by an oncoming banker on a busy sidewalk or one approaching in the supermarket aisle, I whip out the cell phone and fake animated conversation, giving but a curt nod to a warm smile.
Avoiding bankers you know is rather simple. The danger lurks in conversations with casual friends who might be bankers. Perhaps the New Mexico legislature could pass a law requiring all bank staffers to wear a giant B on their chests.
Actually, it is not the banking industry that fuels my desire to hitchhike up to Albuquerque to sit in with the Occupy Wall Street folks. No, I always wanted to be a hippie and this looks like the next best thing. Back in those good old days I was the right age to be a hippie but I had a job and kids to feed.
They paid me the then handsome salary of $13,000 a year to publish the Monday through Friday Banning-Beaumont Record-Gazette and after sitting through a dreary Beaumont school board meeting until 10 p.m., I would arrive at 6 the next morning to write the story and prepare for another 12-hour day.
Driving to work on I-10 through the San Gorgonio Pass I would see ragtag hippies begging rides, heading for the Palm Springs desert where they would get stoned, sing “Where Have All Flowers Gone,” and take co-educational naps. Hmmm, I’d muse.
When I get to Albuquerque I am going to plunk down next to the guy with the guitar. My granddaughter already made me a tie-dyed T-shirt, so I’ll fit right in — if fitting in means an old guy who keeps saying “groovy!” Someone’s going to hand me a “Banish the Banks” sign and I will refuse. “Like, yo dude, that’s not my gig.”
I am not sure why the banks are the centerpiece of frustration. If you don’t like Bank of America’s $5 debit card charge, don’t use that service. Banks make money? We can only hope so. Granted, if I were smart enough to understand the intricacies of the economy I would not still be writing newspaper columns for 25 cents a word, but I do understand the following.
Look around your town. If the bank is making money, if the supermarket is making money, if the local coffee shop is making money, if the mine, oilfield, or factory is making money, that is a good thing. If these businesses are losing money, run for cover.
My protest sign will say “Nix Netflix!” They jack the rates way up there and have a crummy selection of instant viewing selections.
And because my DVD player is programmed for Netflix, I am a captive customer. You call this America?
What seems to be the underlying frustration in the Occupy Wall Street movement is the rich get rich and the poor get poorer. Nothing has changed much since hippies roamed the land. There have always been the rich and the poor. Back then the ambitious set out to work hard and get a bigger slice of the pie. Moving up was the national mantra.
There is a difference, though, and it is a big one. Hope. We had it. Today’s generation has little, and for good reason. WHW?, the protest should ask. Work Hard Where? That, indeed, may be the underpinning of Occupy Wall Street. If our national politicians have a single responsibility, it is to put aside their radical ideological differences to find center ground on a plan to restore the hope that will sprout signs like TGFA! Thank God for America!
Meanwhile, if someone will give me a chord… “where have all my movies gone, looong time comin’….”
Have a nice day.