Daylight Robberies: Nights in the Not Much Longer Life of Working in a Restaurant (Part 1)

Overheard two servers while cleaning the other night share how much they had made over Mother’s Day – one of the busiest restaurant days of the year.  One made about $175 in tips, and the other, over $300.  Their whole conversation began, incidentally, with the latter’s surprised delight having made about $300 on this very non-descript, Wednesday night.

I later asked that server just much he happens to make over a typical week.  He replied about a thousand dollars.

I looked back at him…  And his stone-serious, eventual verbal reply indicated he was not joking.

Recognizing of course he is one of the good servers, I asked if this was typical among more average, full-timers (‘average’ presumed here as around what the aforementioned other here had taken home on Mother’s Day).  “O-ohhhh, no,” he confirmed, somewhat to my relief.  He added that a more average server probably brings in about $700/week.  …Ok, about three or four hundred dollars more than I expected.  And finally, over the restaurant’s busiest promotion which ran from mid-January to mid-April of this year, he said he made about $11,000.

Needless to say I found this news a touch depressing.  I have always been aware that, financially speaking, I am on the wrong side of the kitchen.  But up until now, I just wanted to share here for the sake of posterity that I never knew the numbers!  As I overheard some 19 year-old newbie say he made about $150 on a Saturday night, slightly more than what I would make over an eight-hour shift, as a cook, I could not help but feel a bit robbed!

I know there are ideas out there, like the back of the house being given a share of the wait-staff’s tips.  Not necessarily arguing for this here, but something like it would feel accommodating having to work in such a herd-‘em-in/herd-‘em-out, corporate-kitchen (a term I’ve always upheld as contradictory given the impersonalized nature of how they’re run, in stark contrast to one that is independently owned).

For instance, we have servers – plural, and oftentimes the same below-average ones, every week – who tend to forget to put a table’s order in.  The cooks are then asked to rush the table’s order through, on top of keeping all regular hell from breaking loose, so that the server and restaurant as a whole can save face (because having to explain to a table you forgot they exist would just be in every way bad).  I will never understand how a restaurant can be designed to be so busy that a server can forget to put a table’s order in.

I also can’t understand the chronic ignorance whenever a below-average server would re-enter the kitchen and yell – and keep yelling – in need of something random.  This only succeeds in slamming to a halt every cook’s train of thought in hopes one will respond.  We never respond.  The one designated cook to field such needs eventually responds, but there is something comical to how some servers insist on keep doing this, as if God would ever have the time to tend to such baffling ignorance.

A friend of mine once said that working in a restaurant is a lot like working in an e-r – except with absolutely nothing at stake.  Most of us take pride in our work, but as a matter of perspective, many jobs are simply not as vital or worthwhile as, say, restoring the peace in situations like in Ukraine or Syria, speaking up against the status-quo oligarchy, or anything of actual importance. 

And this lends to why I’m reluctant to readily jump from the back to the front of the house – at least in this establishment, and in this town: the sheer amount of ignorance one has to, well, ignore.  There are rampant examples of it, every night: racial ignorance, sexual ignorance, dietary ignorance, and maybe most profoundly social-economic ignorance.  All of these go ignored under the hyper-paced guise of profit.

‘TLDR’

My first ever blog-post – here on this site – was meant to serve in and of itself as a protest on the topic of money in politics.  I wanted to create a link for it and then email it to various campaign offices and publications, as well as of course share it on a few social network sites.

It was naïve, perhaps, in retrospect, hoping its impact would readily catch on – knowing next to nothing about blogging etiquette at the time, as well as having yet to establish any sort of…following (still not very comfortable with that word).

I know the piece seemed also, by popular blogging standards, long.  Whenever I choose to write about something big I believe the reader can instantly recognize it as such, and so the challenge then is to keep it interesting to the point where ‘length’ becomes perfectly imperceptible.

I put a lot of work into that piece, along with another on a left to center understanding of guns and gun-control in America.  And my fear still is that these, among others, will get crushed under the traffic of more frequent postings.  We are of course eons from the days of Dickens and Dostoevsky, where readers demanded big books because there were not many other sources of entertainment available.

So understanding that frequency is important, and wishing to maintain a generally high quality in what I choose to write about, I have come to the following compromise: I will split any a future, grand topic into a series of consecutive posts.

…See, I tend to learn the fundamental process to some (…ok, many) things, late in life.  One eventually abides by learning important fundamentals with having always excelled in understanding basic math.  …And, boy, I desperately need to be around a community of fellow artists/writers.

 

And just as a final side-note, no, thankfully no one has ever commented on anything I’ve written with this here title (which means, ‘Too Long, Didn’t Read’).  I don’t like using pop-culture acronyms, myself, and was not aware this one existed until the other night.  I take never receiving it as a compliment, for it would generate the reply, ‘Understandable, seeing how you could not have even written that out.’

Or, very simply: ‘FO’.

Funny Things

Life is exhausting.

The PCBs and high levels of mercury in fish from chemicals dumped into our lakes, rivers, and oceans, not so thoroughly checked by the FDA. The radiation in the Pacific as a result of the nuclear disaster in Fukishima. (Although that which is in the air and water has been deemed diluted to the point of negligible, it is reported to still exist in migrated fish, like tuna, along U.S. western shores.) Multi-million and -billion dollar energy and pharmaceutical entrepreneurs, who, among others, in large courtesy of the multiple special-interest groups the industrialist Koch brothers alone fund, propagandize ‘freedom’ in damnable poetic terms of ‘free enterprise’ supporting an American Dream defined as the freedom to make as much money as we want. How is advocating this not considered evil? I like actual politics – the art of it – but we know it is no longer being practiced. And soon there will be actual data, in a study to be released later this Fall, proving this. We allegedly have a Democratic President who does not use his bully pulpit to throw rhetorical rage up the asses of those enchanted – correctly so – with our greatest Constitutional power. This is his job, to get Congress to work with him/her. Otherwise, they historically prove to be failures; fortunate to be elected to a second term. Yet Congress still goes right on ignoring his more namby-pamby moralizing, and instead pile into their first-class bandwagons spending weekends with the mutually high-funded and influential who legally side-step their occupation as anything other than ‘lobbyist’ on their W-2s – all-in-all, twofold polluting the air we breathe and the food we eat. I wish I had the power to become invisible, to sneak into meetings and private offices, record conversations, read confidential documents, unveil terrible evidence with the non-mainstream media, and walk away scot-free. But I cannot have this power, and do not want to be made invisible, because I live in reality. I know the majority of us who live in rural and suburban parts prefer living in a world of Batmans and Avengers – or fantasy sports – and less within the actual one. We live in a world that is increasingly, cynically self-preserving; a generational cold war of compromised death. We largely prefer to devolve, self-involved. It’s comedic. It’s hilarious. It’s sexy. None of what I am saying is news to anybody. Yet I feel compelled to keep tabs on all of it. It’s crazy…

 

Working two jobs doesn’t help against the exhaustion, either.

Democracy is very moral. Capitalism is very amoral. The McCutcheon v. F.E.C. decision is the most recent, obvious reflection of how we’re veering away from a democratically run system. I am not surprised by the ball-less, aloof, and ineffectively debunking (in this case) on the part of the Democrats – originally botched by the Solicitor General, when asked by Justice Alito, over Citizens United – that money is speech. If money is speech, then what is lack of money?! Once more, for the sake of posterity, I and millions of others do not measure personal or social growth in terms of financial worth. Wealth, in any of its –isms, corrupts.

If you were to donate fifty or even two-thousand dollars to a major political campaign, do you really feel you’re contributing next to someone donating $19 million? In 2008, then Senator Obama raised over $750 million for his presidential campaign. In 2012, as predicted, both the President and former Governor Romney each raised over a billion dollars. The economy was the overwhelming issue over the course of this gruelingly shallow and media-scared campaign. Neither potential leader really wanted to step on that rail of exemplifying vision or leadership. And because both appeared to spend the majority of their campaigns railing against the other’s economic policy (or, lack thereof) most people did not so much vote for their guy but pretty vehemently against the other.

Voter-turnout wasn’t great, as has been the case in recent years. About 93 out of 219 million eligible voters (roughly 43%) did not vote in 2012, in contrast to the predicted billion dollars, each, that had been raised?

Last year, I paid about $800 in state taxes. Upon filing my W-2, I ended up owing $249 back to the state. I ended up owing roughly 30% more of what I had already, relatively meagerly paid.

Democrats, true to norm, announced they wanted to make income-inequality the official theme of their 2016 midterm campaigns. (…You might argue this is why the party exists in the first place.) The economist Dean Baker recently wrote: ‘If the minimum wage had risen in step with productivity growth it would be over $16.50/hour today.’ According to numerous sources, the typical worker’s annual salary, adjusted to inflation, has not increased since 1979. According to the more moderate Economic Policy Institute (in contrast to the more left-leaning, aforementioned AFL-CIO), by the end of the 1960s the ratio of CEO-to-typical-worker salaries reached no higher than 20:1. Now, they estimated it to be anywhere between 202 and 272:1, depending on measurement of options. …The federal government recently raised the income-tax on people making $450,000/year from 35% to 39.6%, (despite how, through loopholes, they manage to pay a less average tax-rate than the average worker). Yet, the payroll tax for the other 150 million other working Americans went up about 48%, from 4.2% to 6.2%![1]

So, how would corporate-CEOs respond if all hourly paid, corporate employees threatened to truly organize, online, and, without bluffing, simply set a date to stop working in demand of higher wages?

This may sound like a brash haggling tactic, but look at those numbers again if you have to. When I looked at that first figure – $16.50/hour as a minimum wage – the next question of course became do exceedingly wealthy CEOs, hedge-fund managers, investment bankers, etc., have to make as much as they do? Of course not. And then the next question is how is each of our financial values reasonably determined?

The fact that one can be “capped out” at an hourly paid position, as I was recently informed at my f/t job, is relatively absurd.

Student loan debt is now higher than credit card and auto-loan debt, and second only to mortgage-loan debt. Most people deserve the benefit of the doubt to want to go to college but just can’t afford it. I currently cannot afford to start investing in a Roth-IRA, on top of my apprehension to invest and trade in general in the market. That whole business seems like a sport of hyped-up (among other substances) males in uniformed, rolled-up sleeves and ties with whom I’d normally prefer not to associate.

I cannot create my own world of vitality, self-responsibility, and moral courage, and so search for such a community to move to, away from family and friends. This is a typical, albeit still very difficult, pain.[2] Good writing is not a solo, point-A-to-B type trade. It is communal (…the opposite of long-winded). You are dealing with emotions and so need to be around a community who recognizes having them; who are in each way displeased with the current state of things, and willing to coagulate each of their displeasures into some backbone.

There are great songs, movies, books, information – all at the touch of a smartphone – people, and ideas, all out there behind the veneer of pop/dominant culture. For instance, businesses that are ‘for-benefit’, as opposed to for-profit or not-for-profit, whose m.o. is to donate a copy of a product they sell to a person living in a third-world country.

 

We as responsible adults are above the realization we disagree on things, having rarely – if ever – been able to sort out any and all betrayals from our younger days. We are above empathizing with various acts of ‘evil’ committed all over, the world over, every second, from susceptibility to the indiscriminate demands of free enterprise. We all know our ageless souls/wavelengths crisscross in bodily form for just a cosmic blink, and anyone who has ever gazed out across an ocean, or a wide open landscape, is embedded with this feeling. So it is illogical, then, to be so fervently inconsiderate of the other. Straight cowardice, actually.

Life is not a business. It’s personal. Things will only always stay the same unless we very simply start to change the political tone.

 

As for a quick end-note on personal health…

I know it is hypocritical, but I will continue to work with the cooking and selling of meat and seafood, until I figure out where I want to settle. I own cats, who are unfortunately incapable of maintaining a vegetarian or vegan diet. Dogs can, as far as I know. But as far as my cats go, who have always eaten well and not the crap that mostly sits on supermarket shelves, their tiny metabolisms will from now on get dry and moist food comprised of poultry, rice, and vegetables.

And I would like to one day return to no longer advocating for the slaughter of fellow, sentient creatures at human hands. We’re all the same color, same creed, on the inside, as us human animals are endowed with a far greater capacity for thinking and feeling, and able to maintain a full life without meat while comfortably allowing of course for the occasional vice. (Since keeping tabs on health can be stressful enough, and stress, then, is what it is, any proper diet should allow for an occasional coffee, or beer, or such.)

Advancements in soy replacement-meat products, which for the most part taste perfectly fine, to go with organically grown fruit, vegetables, starches, and herbs, have made it incredibly easier to eat vegan, than ever before. And finally, people who know me know that I have never been the ‘militant’ sort of vegetarian. I can only strongly encourage things and have never insisted on doing other people’s thinking for them. I tend to very much dislike it when others do this with me, so instead would rather do the other person’s listening for them whenever openly misinterpreted.

 

[1] http://www.epi.org/publication/ceo-pay-2012-extraordinarily-high/ Also an interesting read: http://www.sfgate.com/politics/joegarofoli/article/Thumbs-up-for-15-an-hour-minimum-wage-in-new-5321206.php.

[2] If sex, wealth, or seeking the acceptance of my father were any of my typical motivators I think I could have cashed in on any number of million dollar-ideas by now: bacon-wrapped cigars, a mosh-pit video game from when I was in my early twenties. Heck, even late-night comedy writing. But I have pesky scruples. ;)

On dementia…

I absolutely love moments of sheer joy and adulation that only sport or music can seem to provide, like the way his appearance at the 2010 UNC alumni game was depicted in the following story: http://espn.go.com/espn/feature/story/_/id/10545949/precious-memories-dean-smith-story.  It’s goes to show how many a two people in a large crowd, totally opposite on other matters, can have a mutual and almost spiritual appreciation for something so basic.

For a person such as he, so widely revered as both humble and larger-than-life, this is not so much a story about his legacy but an effectively, beautifully written account on the sheer power of dementia.  He is still here, his heart and its memory is still here.  And so he should not be so dramatically perceived or acceptably referred to – understandable as it may be – by his entire ‘family’ in the past tense.

The heart may want to recede into a dark corner after reading this.  I feel what makes people instantly tense about the “cruelty” – an accurate term – of this disease is being invariably confronted with their own mortality.

And on the more personal note, reading this compels me to conjure up means to try to bond with my Mom, as she is roughly in the middle stages of dealing with this disease.  If/When the time comes that she does not recognize me, I will never allow myself to believe, without in any way stressing her, that she does not know me nor I her.

The Toothpick is Mightier Than the Sacrificed Lamb

Wow, this past Thursday, the Arizona state legislature passed a law which awaited the signature or veto of the governor on whether to permit businesses to refuse service to gays based upon “religious principles”. The legislation was placed on the governor’s desk on Monday, upon which she had had until this Saturday to decide whether to sign or veto. Arizona’s U.S. senators, John McCain and Jeff Flake, had both urged the governor to veto. Apple began back-peddling on their plans to build a plant in the state. The Super Bowl was threatening to leave (just like they went ahead and done about fifteen years ago when the state did not want to recognize MLK Day, and the state lost hundreds of millions in revenue). The tide of protest grew and grew. But, thank goodness the governor did not for any reason wait until the weekend to decide to veto.

Since most politicians rather willfully shy from educating, before simply cutting to the heart of the tedious, Leviticus 18:22/Old Testament debate and debunking the “religious principles” claim, given how nutty this particular piece of legislation was, first, to air out a few civil liberties quandaries (in case it should ever come up anywhere, again)…

For one, how would one know if a potential customer is gay?! How awkward would it be if a teenager, out with his parents, is refused service by an unwise proprietor despite having yet come out? …I would love to stop at any a gas station in the state and say, ‘Hey, biologists and anthropologists say that the vast majority of us are to some extent bisexual. That includes you, Dwight. So, $25 on Pump 2.’

How perverse is it to leave it up to the law to decide what is ‘burdensome’ to the business person’s religious beliefs? Would gay residents of Arizona ultimately have to be registered to wear a yellow – or, pink – star, like the Jews in concentration camps, to be ensured potential discrimination from business? If a general physician became known for refusing gay patients, one could go in for a prostate exam and then share when it is over, “By the way, doc, I’m gay, and you just had your hand up my ass. Peace!”

Arizona is one of five states that allows its general public a no license or permit (or, “Unrestricted”) concealed/carry handgun policy, as well as upholding a Stand Your Ground/Castle Doctrine which extends coverage to any place in the state where a person has a right to be. So, if discriminated against (or, not), where deadly force is threatened (or, not), said person could shoot the discriminator and legally claim self-defense. It seems like interpreting public policy in Arizona is a bit like knowing how to play poker. …Poker and guns. Long…live the wild west.

The argument from those who support this legislation is that businesses would simply, legally be protected to politely refuse transacting with presumed gays. It is perfectly astonishing, even more so now in the Information Age where a matter like this right now could go from outrageous to tedious in less than a half of a day, how a conformed brainwashing can lend to an inability to see the discriminatory element (let alone, overlook the constitutional, separation of church of state element, which separates us from the countries we choose to continue to coldly and hotly war against).

People might look at religious/social conservatives and say or think something to the effect of, ‘You can never change them.’ Wrong. Facts open people’s eyes. They do mine.

And so as for this so-called “religious principle”, it has been proven that children who have gay parents become acclimated to the normalcy of living among gays and gay couples, and, therefore, do not grow up discriminating against gays. Or, to put it as one sign at a not-too-long-ago same-sex rally proudly, and rightly, so: “Jesus had two daddies!” I would see gay couples at the church I used to go to and not so much blink an eye but feel a warm sense of relief.

Intellectually, as well as sociologically, just about everyone alive now in the U.S. has been acclimated to having come to reject as well as accept several passages/ideas written in the Bible. For one, one of the very ten commandments dictates Christians should not work on the day of the Sabbath. Multiply roughly 50 Sundays per year times the 26 years I have been legally working, and I and others ought to be worried about burning to a crisp in hell. No. We can safely agree that there are actual, deeper and darker hierarchal sins that need the authority of addressing.

That being said, in a nutshell, refusing equal rights for gays just because it is written in the Bible – or otherwise referred to as ‘religious principles’ – is simply means to hide behind one’s homophobia.

Review of Every Ghost Story is a Love Story: A Life of David Foster Wallace

“For reasons that are not well understood, war’s codes are safer for most of us than love’s.” – David Foster Wallace, “Federer as Religious Experience”, New York Times, 8/20/2006.

 

I have a problem with the last sentence of this book.  Let me just get that out of the way from jump.  The sudden, judgmental tone seems to tarnish the entire account: “This was not an ending anyone would have wanted for him, but it was the one he had chosen.”  The first part is true.  But in contrast, the second part, too bluntly put.

Nobody chooses to be born with a neurochemical disorder, where by adolescence symptoms of depression and anxiety begin to appear, and had begun with him.  And as indicated, from the first paragraph of the bio’s final section, the medication for which he had been taking for twenty-odd years started to simultaneously give him heart palpitations, and caused him to sweat profusely.  The physician he subsequently saw referred to his medication as “a dirty drug” and so recommended a different one.  The plan then was for him to flush out the old before starting a new anti-depressant.  His only questionable choice here was to try and go cold-turkey from anti-depressants altogether.  Although valuing life more than writing, he was financially obligated to finish the novel he was worried he was taking too long to finish.  With a healthy degree of skepticism, he wondered if medication for which he had been taking over twenty years may have been affecting his ability to write fiction.  He had been taking it for over twenty years, and so tentatively decided to see how not taking it might go.

I never read his final book, The Pale King, published posthumously and unfinished (by him), but I wonder if the idea of self-deprecating his now idolatrous image as a prominent literary figure – fully constructed and ironically marketed even by those influenced by him as a result of his major work, Infinite Jest — would have freed up the creative juices.  It appears he at least touched upon the idea of tearing down his ‘statue’, as he generally referred to this new status which affected him.  Such singularly honest, no-holds-barred satire has a way of bringing out one’s sincerity all the more, for anything big, bold, and ‘new’ which becomes a success has a way of turning disingenuously and overly marketed. 

But, the cold-turkey approach to medications would very unfortunately prove not to work.  By the time he tried taking a new set of anti-depressants – one of which, the potential side-effects included anxiety — the pain proved too much to reverse and again stabilize.  He even suggested going back onto his original medication (Nardil), but according to the bio, “was too agitated to give it the weeks it takes it to work.”

And this all slightly harkens to my confusion over the book’s subtitle: “A Life of David Foster Wallace”.  As for the choice of article, why not ‘The Life…’?  Was it meant to convey choosing to side-step a little discussion or interview with an expert on the effects clinical depression can have on the life and work of a writer, or artist in general?  I would have thought it fundamental to include.  Mr. Wallace was, understandably, self-conscious about even discreetly revealing or talking about his condition, publically.

But overall I cannot think of an author for whom it would better serve in order to promote and defend his work in a life cut so short than for David Foster Wallace.  If people felt Infinite Jest[1] was too much to ingest at first (including myself), they will want to try soldiering through it again after reading this book.  From a universal perspective, this biography was a very important undertaking, illustrating just how much care and responsibility is at the ready towards making a substantial and creative difference.  Halfway through, some of the remembrances may start to feel a little redundant, or unsparsely depict him as too self-involved (which could very well be chalked up to his condition).  But, much of it feels like a shared conversation with friends and family about something you love to do.  No one would criticize a farmer or doctor for being too dedicated to each of their callings. 

Support from family and friends in order to excel at something just as risky as being a serious artist is crucial.  It is reassuring to read he had a good amount of this, growing up (Dad, a philosophy professor, and Mom a literature teacher).  These foundations helped fuel his competitive desire both as an excellent student on into his undergraduate years, and as a junior tennis player (before retiring as an amateur).  As his depression and anxiety started to reveal themselves, such support would prove more prevalent during his struggles with addiction, his feeling overwhelmed as a graduate student and attempts at being a teacher/professor (working a few odd-jobs instead) which had resulted in a couple of breakdowns, as well as primarily during romantic struggles throughout his turbulent twenties.  He would ultimately find his greatest personal and professional niche in his early forties.  And all of this stuff went into his work, for which he was very thorough, honest, and discreetly unabashed to share.

I just wish the final sentence in this otherwise objective account was differently worded.  The last sentence of the following obituary published by the New York Times, two days after his death, could be supplemented instead: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/09/15/books/15wallace.html.


[1] ‘Thought-provoking’ would be too great an understatement; maximized with purpose in every way, shape, and form, simply distilled, it is a satirical novel about the taken-for-granted effects of commercialism and consumerism upon society.  (…And, this here being said, prepare yourself for plenty of footnotes.  The book has 388 of them.)

Mass Silliness

In the midst of all the back-slapping and poignant hypocrisy (coordinated stump-speeches as televised eulogies are pretty tasteless, culminating in the Commander-in-Chief, the only Nobel Peace Prize winner with a kill-list, pleading we “Stop hurting each other” and “Peace”), the mayor of Boston, Tommy Menino, opened this morning’s edition of “This Week” with continued trumped-up stumping for what would be an entire episode covering the Boston Marathon bombing.

After incompetence on the part of the BPD in the accidental killing of a college student in the aftermath of the Red Sox winning the 2004 ALCS, the BPD’s Commissioner at the time stated how the police department “accepts full responsibility” for the death of the student, Victoria Snelgrove, “but” immediately thereafter went on to condemn the actions of some “punks” as deserving partial blame.

First of all, there ought to be no “but” after accepting full responsibility.  Also, let it be clear that in the immediate media-aftermath of that tragic incident, the originally worded “punks” started lazily getting lumped together with “fans” throughout the rest of the statement.  I remember how that sparked my ire.  Baseball is a game that can bring out one’s inner child (sometimes in not so good ways, particularly between Sox and Yankees’ fans), and fans of any sport should never be confused with actual vandals who would seek to seize upon a large crowd to commit individual, destructive acts.  Cheering in the streets, or even observing a celebration as Victoria was doing safely and legally atop a one-story parking lot across from Fenway’s left-field wall, is not destructive.  The vandals, or “punks”, are the ones who deserve the partial blame; the inference of accessories to her death.

I was there that night, standing only several feet away from when her unconscious body was discovered on the street.  Moments earlier, one of the riot-officers walking up my side of Landsdowne Street was aiming his pellet-gun up at the Monster, just as another on the other side of the street must have been doing when he fired up — unlike as he was required to, into the ground, in order for the pellets to explode and release their gas on impact.  These officers deserve, and have publically acknowledged the bulk of, the blame for her death.

I am not saying mayhem was not happening elsewhere in order to prompt a reaction from the police, there was just none going on from my vantage point.  Another fan passed right in front of me with his nose bloodied and broken by a mounted police-officer, according to his crying sister in his defense.  One officer, on foot, had a very geared up expression on his face.  Pepper-spray was fuming up the back of the Monster where strangers were helping others trying to safely climb down from the girders.  Then the aforementioned student standing along the edge of that parking-tier somehow had one of those pellets embed itself into her eye-socket, wield its chemicals to her brain where she then fell unconscious onto the sidewalk, where a fellow celebrator screamed in horror.  I did not want to leave nearby the scene until I saw some movement from her, which I did see.  It was not until the following morning did I learn she had died.

Considering the historical fashion of how the Red Sox had won the league championship that night, the historic rival whom they had beaten with only the loss of one year prior as the latest gut-wrenching chapter in that rivalry, the very bitter to very sweet celebration that ensued immediately onto the streets that night should not have only been expected by authorities as very cathartic, but more like a cosmic event.  And given how there was a trend at the time of such celebrations turning out of control in college campuses and towns across the country, in the aftermath of their area’s teams winning championships, in retrospect, I was surprised the BPD appeared so unprepared for this outpouring.

But it was the “but” that still lingered.  For the majority now generally being lauded for their stoic ‘heroism’ in the aftermath of the Marathon-bombing were then labelled partially responsible for this young woman being killed.  Such education in existentialism is not-so-subtly, persistently devolving, as that partial blame slowly culminated to full when the Commissioner and some representatives of the mayor’s office reportedly went as far as meeting with the parents of the deceased young woman a couple of days after the initial condemnation and managed to convince them to publically blame the “fans” for their daughter’s death (according to a banner headline in the Boston Herald which read, “Family Blames Fans”).

I am white, Irish, and lived in Boston for three months in the summer of 1995.  I am perhaps an odd blend of introvert and gregarious.  I intended to try and make a living there, seeing how the city is pretty much the literary capital of the country and I like to write, and about ninety percent of my family happen to be from towns around the south of Boston.  My parents and older siblings are originally from Brockton.  Maybe it was because it was a hot summer that year, as it is a big city of roughly three million residents, or perhaps it had something to do with my just having spent two years living out in a smaller and less crowded city in the Midwest, but a big reason I decided to last only a few months there was from having spent a lot of time walking around Boston-proper on days off from work and not one single passer-by returned a friendly smile.  The only friend I did manage to make was my roommate through a mutual friend, a very nice person from Ohio, whose previous roommate had actually moved out on her only after a short time for the very same reason as myself. 

So I don’t think “tough” is the word I would use to generally describe Bostonians.  Neurotic, distrusting, over-caffeinated, perhaps as a result of a Mr. Donut or Dunkin Donuts on practically every street-corner.  The dose of xenophobia that the “Euro-trash” get practically extends to anyone not from Boston.  Very old-school in terms of social politics.  (Little do people know that over a hundred years ago, the Irish were actually discriminated against by the Germans in Boston.)  I once saw a native Bostonian actually get out of his car in not-so mid-afternoon traffic on Boylston and confront the driver in front of him, yelling, “Go back to your fucking country!”

Cities right now in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, sub-Saharan Africa have to deal with the threat of bombing and random terror attacks on a daily basis.  These are cities well-acquainted with actual, unvarnished fear.  I have trouble understanding these conflicting messages of how Boston can on the one hand be referred to as “tough” yet also “a city paralyzed by fear”.  In very recent, post-9/11 America, it is near-impossible for me to believe the majority living in a city where those planes happened to take off could carry on unsusceptible to the possibility of future terrorism.  Old school politics press on.

If there is anything we the public have learned from this latest terror-incident, it is that America has a continued inclination to oversell.  Boston was a city largely paralyzed by inconvenience from being locked-down for a day, and overcrowded by multi-media tourists.  (How do police bypass peeking inside a resident’s big boat parked in his backyard, very near the scene from where the younger Tsarnaev had fled, bloodied?)  I wish we would learn to not perpetuate any possible, future tragic incident in this country with the disservice of tragically shallow perspective.