Stuck on Repeat
Todd invited Sam and Eunice over, since Max was headed for a convention in Las Vegas. Eunice was busy so Sam gladly went on his own.
“She’s out with her posse of militants tonight but like I told you, Terrence and his crew never fail to show up. Whatever! I swear that asshole wants to get in her pants so bad. I’d like to take a spade shovel to the back of his head!” Sam said.
“That’s extremely macabre Sam. No violence please!” he laughed. “What sort of activist is she?” Todd asked.
“Ever since they saved this girl from the Vineyard, they’ve been looking at ways to foil drug profits, or at least lead police to them,” Sam said.
“Pretty noble stuff,” Todd said.
“Okay you’re right but it is annoying I never know where I stand,” Sam said.
“To me you either want to be together or not. What do you want Sam? What expectations do you have in your life?” he asked.
“I guess I want her to participate!” he said.
“Okay, let’s switch to you. What career do you want?” Todd asked.
“I want to be the governor I dunno,” Sam said.
“No seriously, when you were a kid, what did you want to be?” Todd asked.
“As a kid. Easy! An astronaut or fighter pilot like Luke Skywalker. No, I actually wanted to be Lando Carlissian,” Sam stood up to recite his best Billy D. Williams. “Todd, you slimy, double-crossing, swindler...”
Todd laughed, “Who’s that? Oh, wait the black guy from Star Wars? That’s pretty good! Seriously Sam look at me. What do you want to be when you grow up?” he asked, staring intently Barbara Walters style.
Todd got philosophical and turned into a life coach. Sam didn’t mind, no one had cared to ask him before.
“I want to make my old high school a better place for the kids coming up. My school got zero funding. You should see how its falling apart. I bet your school isn’t falling apart ritz cracker! Where did you go again?” Sam asked.
“Not a fair question. You know I went to school on Fairview. And you’re right, it wasn’t shabby or falling down. It was all white bread except for a Chinese guy, one Mexican girl and a few African Diplomat kids,” Todd said.
Sam liked how Todd wasn’t ashamed or careful about his white privilege which in itself defined white privilege.
“Uh-huh, no surprise there. There’s a lot of commotion about grades these days. There was a news report about how America was failing in low income schools. Black schools mainly. My high school was in the worst category,” Sam said.
“Have you ever thought maybe Eunice is following her path and you need to find yours? Put your passion into action. That’s why dad’s get hobbies. My father took his hobby seriously. His business was all he cared about. I never saw him but it was better than a deadbeat dad,” Todd said.
Sam relaxed. Things weren’t so terrible.
“I don’t know if my thinking is right. Does everyone worry about this kind of stuff? I wonder if I’m having anxiety or depression. How does someone know when they are clinically depressed?” Sam asked.
“It could be your just one crazy mutherfucker! The only thing we can depend on is change. The minute we get used to something it ups and changes! I notice you aren’t satisfied now and you want to do something about it. Knowing you need to change is a good thing. Better than not knowing. Cheers to that!” Todd said.
Sam did have a calling. High school stats for black boys showed they ended up in pro sports, as dope dealers or school drop outs at risk of incarceration or death. There weren’t too many playing sports.
Principal Butler and the school council seemed out of touch with reality. They didn’t notice the facilities were decrepit. So where was the government funding going? It was a problem that no one talked about solving.
At work a few days later, Sam caught up with Todd, “I’ve been doing some digging. There have been successful improvements to urban schools in other states. There’s this guy in Little Rock for example. I sent him an email,” he said.
Sam had done hours of research on school board issues at Morgan Library. Government spending was based on district votes across southern states, which impacted Booker T. City reporting. It didn’t specify which schools got funded and which didn’t so voters didn’t know how funds were distributed. They had no insight to inner-city budget operations.
“What did you find out?” Todd asked.
“The bottom line is funds don’t go to the schools that need them most,” Sam was dour.
“I guess no one looks at the numbers state by state,” Todd said.
“It’s no surprise living in a country that segments society into black, Hispanic, LGBT, even wealthy and poor ghettos,” Sam said.
“It seems no different than a caste system. The Statue of Liberty’s serious face should have a smiley face sticker slapped overtop,” Todd said.
“Ha! It reminds me of the expression, ’if you put lipstick on a pig, it’s still a pig!” Sam said.
“Ouch, poor pig. Do they think we’re stupid? I guess when you think about it, we are stupid. Everyone knows money makes the world go round. The ones reaping turn a blind eye to what’s going on,” Todd said.
“It’s like saying I see the problem but I didn’t create it so why do anything about it,” Sam said.
“That would mean taking a financial hit. No thanks. I have my kids university to think about. I would do something but my son Timmy is number one. At a family level is it so wrong to look out for #1?” Todd asked.
“No. If Timmy is your son it’s not wrong. So the less thans are right and the middle class are right,” Sam said.
“Only there’s a piece missing. The root of the thing is missing. It’s obvious but invisible. The taker takes. The unspoken rule says go for it. It neither encourages nor discourages us from cheating. When I take or do whatever I want, no one stops me because they’re doing it too. The actual root of the problem is the secret pact that’s never verbalized, just influenced. Elites witness other elites take, take, taking so they copycat and discover they aren’t getting caught,” Todd said.
“What about the honor system?” Sam said.
“Right. The unchecked honor system. It’s like the urban legend of the illuminati, a elite meeting in secret. It’s a free country with great opportunity on the surface. I’ll tell you a secret, the rules of the game are there are no rules, but there is a game. Maybe nobody verbally dictates it and the wealthy figure it out,” Todd said.
“So when they’re caught they seem like total crooks. Meanwhile they want to say, ‘but that guy is doing it too!’” Sam said.
“We know there are rules but we don’t try to find out what they are. We don’t have time or reason to. We wait to get our hand slapped,” Todd said.
“Then we pivot away and try something else. If I don’t see a law I’ll just implement my idea. It might be well intentioned and I might not see the consequence but I still won’t ask permission,” Sam said.
“Yeah, asking for permission is degrading. By the time I think I should ask, I’m making so much money because it’s America. If I’m wrong, I’m innocent until proven guilty. If I have means and friends with interest in my idea, I’ll just get a good lawyer.
“Once I’m free and clear the law protects me under the constitution,” Sam said.
“How on earth is it my fault Sam?” Todd asked.
“There are powerful people and the secret is a lie by omission. Why would you mention the elephant in the room, if the elephant was your American Dream? I guess it’s better to know than not to,” Sam said, with an awkward smile.