imc indymedia

Los Angeles Indymedia : Activist News

white themeblack themered themetheme help
About Us Contact Us Calendar Publish RSS
Features
latest news
best of news
syndication
commentary


KILLRADIO

VozMob

ABCF LA

A-Infos Radio

Indymedia On Air

Dope-X-Resistance-LA List

LAAMN List




IMC Network:

Original Cities

www.indymedia.org africa: ambazonia canarias estrecho / madiaq kenya nigeria south africa canada: hamilton london, ontario maritimes montreal ontario ottawa quebec thunder bay vancouver victoria windsor winnipeg east asia: burma jakarta japan korea manila qc europe: abruzzo alacant andorra antwerpen armenia athens austria barcelona belarus belgium belgrade bristol brussels bulgaria calabria croatia cyprus emilia-romagna estrecho / madiaq euskal herria galiza germany grenoble hungary ireland istanbul italy la plana liege liguria lille linksunten lombardia london madrid malta marseille nantes napoli netherlands nice northern england norway oost-vlaanderen paris/Île-de-france patras piemonte poland portugal roma romania russia saint-petersburg scotland sverige switzerland thessaloniki torun toscana toulouse ukraine united kingdom valencia latin america: argentina bolivia chiapas chile chile sur cmi brasil colombia ecuador mexico peru puerto rico qollasuyu rosario santiago tijuana uruguay valparaiso venezuela venezuela oceania: adelaide aotearoa brisbane burma darwin jakarta manila melbourne perth qc sydney south asia: india mumbai united states: arizona arkansas asheville atlanta austin baltimore big muddy binghamton boston buffalo charlottesville chicago cleveland colorado columbus dc hawaii houston hudson mohawk kansas city la madison maine miami michigan milwaukee minneapolis/st. paul new hampshire new jersey new mexico new orleans north carolina north texas nyc oklahoma philadelphia pittsburgh portland richmond rochester rogue valley saint louis san diego san francisco san francisco bay area santa barbara santa cruz, ca sarasota seattle tampa bay tennessee urbana-champaign vermont western mass worcester west asia: armenia beirut israel palestine process: fbi/legal updates mailing lists process & imc docs tech volunteer projects: print radio satellite tv video regions: oceania united states topics: biotech

Surviving Cities

www.indymedia.org africa: canada: quebec east asia: japan europe: athens barcelona belgium bristol brussels cyprus germany grenoble ireland istanbul lille linksunten nantes netherlands norway portugal united kingdom latin america: argentina cmi brasil rosario oceania: aotearoa united states: austin big muddy binghamton boston chicago columbus la michigan nyc portland rochester saint louis san diego san francisco bay area santa cruz, ca tennessee urbana-champaign worcester west asia: palestine process: fbi/legal updates process & imc docs projects: radio satellite tv
printable version - js reader version - view hidden posts - tags and related articles

Things I've Seen & Heard

by Stephen DeVoy Saturday, Nov. 20, 2004 at 10:57 PM

From the short stories collection.

Things I've Seen & Heard Author: Stephen DeVoy

This is not really a short story.  It's just a sting of memories of events that really happened.  I was standing in line at a pharmacy a few days ago, waiting for a prescription to be filled, when I overheard a series of conversations that reminded me much of experiences in my own life.  I didn't hear the whole of these conversations, because the woman waiting in line was on a cell phone.  I only heard her part of the conversations.

Her voice was horse.  She looked very ill.  She was young.  During her first conversation she called her office, explaining that she had just been to the doctor and was very sick.  Her doctor instructed her to rest.  Her office replied insisting that she come into work.  From what I could gather, she was involved in some kind of sales job.  She argued a bit, explaining that unless she rested she would get sicker and then she would miss even more work.  Her answers indicated that they questioned just how it was that she got sick, just what was it that she was doing during her free time that could cause her to become sick.  The woman was aghast at the line of questioning, stressed out and I can confirm, very sick, for after the conversation she continued to cough and sniffle while waiting for her prescription to be filled.

Next, she called her mother.  Crying into the telephone she explained how she was being forced to go to work, how they also reminded her that 2/3 of her earnings was commission so, if she didn't show up, at the very most she would earn 1/3 of her normal earnings, that is, if they didn't fire her.  She went on and on with her mother about how pathetic is was that they felt they owned her even during her time off, insisting an explanation for how she got sick.

I've seen this situation before.  I've been in this situation.  I remember back in 1995 suffering from a sever case of pneumonia.  I came down with pneumonia by getting stuck out in the snow on the road during a vacation in British Colombia.  It was January and I was snowed in.  When I returned to Los Angeles, I found myself sick.  Despite this, I had to go to work.  Driving to work in the morning, I would cough until I nearly passed out from the lack of oxygen, while driving.  At work, I worked about 15 hours per day trying to meet an unreasonable deadline.  During a few 15 minute breaks, I'd take a snooze on the couch only to be chided for snoring - note that I was working 15 hours per day with pneumonia.  The job was a temporary position - six months in duration.

I finished the project on time and did a great job.  Since it was a temporary position, finishing the job meant ending my employment.  I found another job immediately and had to leave the temporary job one day early to accept the new job (yes, I finished all of my work).  Can you believe this pissed off the temporary employer?  Not only did I finish their project, I finished it early and they wanted me to turn down a job because they expected me to work ONE MORE DAY?

What I'm getting at is that this is what America is all about.  I know many refugees from other countries: Russia, Cuba, Romania, Vietnam - they all tell me how lucky we are and they defend the "American Dream."  I suppose that if you're brought up in a nightmare all of this looks pretty good, but as far as I'm concerned the American Dream is a shit-poor excuse for a reason to live for all we end up with is poor health, stress, no dignity and, in the end, a pile of debt.

Thinking about this woman caused me to think about the many experiences I've had over my life as a worker.  The first full-time job I had was with a bank when I was in college.  I worked as a teller.  Right after training, the "big boss" at the bank's main office, the one in charge of all tellers, told me that he had selected me to work at the Wellesley-Hills branch in Wellesley, Massachusetts.  Wellesley is a very wealthy town.  This boss remarked, "don't let me down, Wellesley is where 'the beautiful people' live."  He asked me if I understood what he meant.  Yeah, I did.  He meant that people like me who come from middle class or poor towns are shit.

I was treated like shit in Wellesley.  I remember this woman, the wife of the owner of a car dealer, coming in one day, slamming down a wad of cash, and telling me she wanted 10 dimes, eight quarters and two nickels.  I was a bit confused by her request and asked her, "OK, so you want to use three dollars and ten cents of this for change, what do you want to do with the rest?"  She looked at me with extreme anger and asked, "What are you, fucking stupid?  I want 10 roles of dimes, eight roles of quarters and two roles of nickels."

I've never been good at handling disrespect, so I got a bit upset, looked at her and said, "Look, I am not stupid.  Let me show you something."

I pulled out a dime and a roll of dimes and I placed the two on the counter before her.  I pulled out a quarter and a roll of quarters and then a nickel and a roll of nickels, doing the same.  I pointed to the dime and I said, "Do you see this here?  This is a dime."  Then I pointed to the roll of dimes and said, "Do you see this here?  This is a roll of dimes."  I repeated this for the quarters and the nickels, adding, "Please note, what distinguishes individual coins from rolls of coins is that the latter are contained within rolls, thus the word "roll."  Needless to say, I was without work a short time later, but that was good because I refocused my energy on school and earned my degree, thereby not needing to be a teller again.

Before I move on, however, I'd like to mention another thing about this boss at the bank.  I believe his name was "Greenberg."  Mr. Greenberg had a habit of straightening my tie.  That's right, without even asking permission he'd grab my tie, straighten it out and suggest that I learn to do a better job at tying it.  Now, on the street if someone grabbed my tie I'd break their face.  The only reason Mr. Greenberg's face did not get broken is because he was the boss.  However, in a just world, someone would break his face and it is my hope that someone, at some time, did break his face.

After this job, I worked part-time for the father of my girlfriend in the shipping office of a corporation.  There was this older guy working with me, close to retirement.  He had a photo of his son on the desk.  His son was a marine and this man was very proud of him.  He worked as hard as he could and kept talking with me about how he was looking forward to retirement.  His pension would become available in one more month.  He had been with the company for about 30 years and did not imagine that anything would change within the next month.  A couple of days before his pension was to become vested, my girlfriend's father fired him for being lazy.  Right after he fired him, my girlfriend's father gloated about how much money he had saved the company be preventing the guy from getting his pension.  Welcome to fucking America.

I went to work for the Department of the Navy right after graduation.  I liked the job.  It was interesting.  What I didn't like was the paranoia around me.  I had a secret clearance.  We worked on a military base.  Our telephones were tapped.  U.S. Government spies would show up at bars when I was drinking and start asking me about my job - very specific questions that indicated that they were probing me.  Fortunately, I knew the deal.

While working for the DoD, I and many other workers were invited to a presentation billed as a chance to listen to a Soviet sub-captain talk about the Soviet view of the cold war.  We were told he was for real.  I had studied Russian in the University and suspected quickly that the guy was a fake.  He showed us Soviet Propaganda films.  Next, American propaganda films were shown, not as propaganda but as documentaries, attempting to dehumanize the Russian people, showing old and ugly grandmothers waiting in line to by potatoes, with background music from the Beatles playing, "Well those Ukraine girls really knock me out, they leave the West behind..."

I found this appalling.  It angered me.  I asked the guy on stage if he was really a Russian or was he, as I suspected, an actor pretending to be a Russian?  He confirmed the latter.  The whole thing was a big lie and their goal was to get us to hate the enemy.  I wrote about this in my weekly report, denouncing them for this bullshit.  I quit a short while later, specifying my belief that "War is Obsolete" as the reason for quitting.  When I left, they gave me a picture of a Russian sub as a token to remember them by.

I've seen many things in my career.  I've seen bosses instruct workers to interfere with the work of other workers in an effort to make them fail at their jobs and justify their dismissal.  I've seen positions "eliminated" just to get rid of someone before they became vested or entitled to benefits only to recreate the position after the person was gone a few months.  I've seen people set up in traps, falsely blamed for things they didn't do and then fired.  I myself have been anonymously stalked online by an ex-employer.

And so, I sit here wondering why we call ourselves free and lucky to be Americans?  We work more hours per year than other industrialized nations.  We have far less vacation time than others.  We have no guarantee of healthcare or even fairness.  We get fired from our jobs for our political views or life styles.  It seems that if there is any freedom here at all, it is in the hands of corporations and not of the people.  We are a nation ruled by corporate executives.  Given this horrible, unjust and stifling system, why don't we revolt?  Will we always believe that just because it is worse somewhere else we are, by definition, lucky?  Does our luck run out only when we are at the very bottom of the barrel and in chains?  I don't know about you, but I expect more out of life than this.  Perhaps you should too.

Report this post as:

Local News

GUIDE TO REBEL CITY LOS ANGELES AVAILABLE A12 5:39PM

lausd whistle blower A10 11:58PM

Website Upgrade A10 3:02AM

Help KCET and UCLA identify 60s-70s Chicano images A04 1:02PM

UCLA Luskin: Casting Youth Justice in a Different Light A02 11:58AM

Change Links April 2018 A01 11:27AM

Nuclear Shutdown News March 2018 M31 6:57PM

Join The Protest Rally in Glendale on April 10, 2018! M29 7:00PM

Join The Protest Rally in Glendale on April 10, 2018! M29 6:38PM

Spring 2018 National Immigrant Solidarity Network News Alert! M19 2:02PM

Anti-Eviction Mapping Project Shows Shocking Eviction Trends in L.A. M16 5:40PM

Steve Mnuchin video at UCLA released M15 12:34AM

Actress and Philanthropist Tanna Frederick Hosts Project Save Our Surf Beach Clean Ups M06 12:10PM

After Being Told He's 'Full of Sh*t' at School Event, Mnuchin Demands UCLA Suppress Video M02 11:44AM

Resolution of the Rent Strike in Boyle Heights M01 6:28PM

What Big Brother Knows About You and What You Can Do About It M01 3:30PM

Step Up As LAPD Chief Charlie Beck Steps Down F14 2:44PM

Our House Grief Support Center Hosts 9th Annual Run For Hope, April 29 F13 12:51PM

Don’t let this LA County Probation Department overhaul proposal sit on the shelf F13 11:04AM

Echo Park Residents Sue LA Over Controversial Development F12 8:51AM

Former Signal Hill police officer pleads guilty in road-rage incident in Irvine F09 10:25PM

Calif. Police Accused of 'Collusion' With Neo-Nazis After Release of Court Documents F09 7:14PM

Center for the Study of Political Graphics exhibit on Police Abuse posters F07 9:50AM

City Agrees to Settle Lawsuit Claiming Pasadena Police Officer Had His Sister Falsely Arre F04 3:17PM

Professor's Study Highlights Health Risks of Urban Oil Drilling F04 12:42PM

Claims paid involving Pasadena Police Department 2014 to present F04 10:52AM

Pasadenans - get your license plate reader records from police F03 11:11PM

LA Times Homicide Report F03 1:57PM

More Local News...

Other/Breaking News

Book Available about Hispanics and US Civil War by National Park Service A19 5:52PM

The Shortwave Report 04/20/18 Listen Globally! A19 4:01PM

The Republican 'Prolife' Party Is the Party of War, Execution, and Bear Cub Murder A19 11:48AM

Neurogenèse involutive A18 9:21AM

Paraphysique de la dictature étatique A16 10:13AM

Book Review: "The New Bonapartists" A16 3:45AM

The West Must Take the First Steps to Russia A14 12:25PM

Théorie générale de la révolution ou hommage à feu Mikhaïl Bakounine A14 3:30AM

The Shortwave Report 04/13/18 Listen Globally! A12 3:50PM

“Lost in a Dream” Singing Competition Winner to Be Chosen on April 15 for ,000 Prize! A12 3:48PM

The World Dependent on Central Banks A12 4:43AM

Ohio Governor Race: Dennis Kucinich & Richard Cordray Run Against Mike DeWine A11 9:40PM

March 2018 Honduras Coup Again Update A10 10:52PM

Apologie du zadisme insurrectionnel A10 3:33PM

ICE contract with license plate reader company A10 1:14PM

Palimpseste sisyphéen A09 11:23PM

Black Portraiture(S) IV: The Color of Silence...Cuba No...Cambridge Yes A09 5:32AM

Prohibiting Micro-Second Betting on the Exchanges A09 4:18AM

Prosecutors treat Muslims harsher than non-Muslims for the same crimes A08 10:33PM

Amy Goodman interview on cell phone safety A08 10:29PM

Mesa, Arizona police officer kills unarmed white man A08 9:50PM

Israeli leaders should be prosecuted for war crimes A08 9:48PM

Paraphysique de l'autorité A08 12:11AM

Two Podcasts on fbi corruption A06 10:13PM

Fbi assassins assault & try to kill DAVID ATKINS A06 7:29PM

EPA Head Scott Pruitt: Of Cages And Sirens A06 2:15PM

The Shortwave Report 04/06/18 Listen Globally! A05 4:25PM

Nicaraguas Conflic with native Peoples on the Caribbean Coast Near Bluefields in Decade80 A05 12:14PM

More Breaking News...
© 2000-2018 Los Angeles Independent Media Center. Unless otherwise stated by the author, all content is free for non-commercial reuse, reprint, and rebroadcast, on the net and elsewhere. Opinions are those of the contributors and are not necessarily endorsed by the Los Angeles Independent Media Center. Running sf-active v0.9.4 Disclaimer | Privacy