Monday, February 1, 2010

Men Not At Work

As a nation we are reaping the harvest of free market ideology and individualist freedoms at the expense of communitarian well-being, and as a result a whole generation of men seems to have no meaningful employment and will end up in jail or on drugs. To paraphrase Pogo, we are the most colonized people on earth, except our colonizers are us.
Last night we were all in bed when there came the proverbial loud knock on the door. Susan pushes me awake and I stumble down the stairs. Two cops waving flashlights are standing at the door asking for our tenant Chris. "He's in the green house," I say, referring to the former coach house across the drive we rent out. I'm not feeling relieved that they aren't asking about me because I'm too asleep to figure it out. I'm just answering questions on automatic pilot. Then Kim, Chris's girlfriend, comes out the door of the green house to answer their questions, and the cops drift away holding the piece of paper I assume was an arrest warrant. Chris's car's not in the driveway, so he's probably one step ahead of them. I go back up to bed.
Back in bed I can't sleep as the adrenaline hits in a delayed reaction. This is the second male tenant in a row with police issues. Our last one, Bill, is in the Merrimack County jail on an assault rap. He was last seen slipping into the woods as the police came up the road about a year ago to investigate after he and his girlfriend got into a fight. Apparently he had a record of assaults. The thing is, checking up on police records is expensive and Susan and I always go on gut instincts about people. But this might be the last time. I have no idea what Chris's issue is, but on Saturday, their pipes froze and I had to put in a portable gas heater into the crawl space for a few hours while I took the kids and some friends visiting from Connecticut out to Pat's Peak for some snowboarding. Susan went in later to check if the pipes were all right and Chris was sound asleep on the sofa while his five year old son Kyle answers the door. Susan slipped in and saw that the water was running again and left Chris sleeping on the sofa, where he has apparently spent a lot of time since getting laid off back in September from his forklift job.
And then yesterday I took Michael to the Steeplegate Mall to buy him some jeans. He lost a pair somewhere, don't ask where because he doesn't know, and neither do we. But I owed him a cheeseburger because he took a second at the last wrestling meet so we sat down at the food park there, the kind that has outlets from about a dozen different fast food chains and metal chairs and tables set down in an atrium. At the table next to us were about six of the most feral looking teenage boys I had ever seen eating slices of pizza or just hanging around. One of them came up and asked in a rasping pirate voice if his mates'd found any work. No was the answer.

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