“Connor,” I said, “everybody making money for a company should have equal say in how it’s run, just as they should in the running of government: the things that rule our lives should be organized under our consent, and furthermore the people who represent accrued capital, the bourgeois, like you, should be eaten.” Feeding off the anger from a decade of class-warfare founded on my needs as an employee, against that of my employers in a capitalist economy rigged against lowest-rungers, I decided that the only true way to create a stable economy is for all people to embrace direct democracy and socialist utopianism, in all instances.
I guess I still believe this, though, I don’t know. I was acting out then, I hated Connor the same way F. Scott Fitzgerald hated people of the upper class, with, “[not] the conviction of a revolutionist but the smoldering hatred of a peasant.” He was more a symbol than a person to me, and in his private-school uniform and ninety-dollar haircut he made a convenient blank wall for me to scratch out the language of all impotent tyrants: cruelty.
“Do it, Connor.”
Connor shows no fear, though he should. I’ve taken all the protective shielding off the bench grinder, so when somebody presses a piece of metal to it white-hot shavings ricochet off the wall, table, clothes, eyeglasses – and they’ll burrow into anything too soft to bounce off. From his difficulty finding the “on” switch I deduce his bravery is birthed by ignorance, and when he puts the damaged wrench up to the electric bench grinder’s stone, the speed and friction of it knocks the metal to the ground with a clang. “Huh-huh,” I retort. Connor picks it up and tries again, this time he holds the wrench firm, but for too long. It turns red and burns his hand and he drops it again. Again, I “huh-huh,” then add, helpfully, “Here, put on some eye protection,” tossing over a pair of plastic safety glasses that don’t fit.
We’re together because Connor drools at the mention of bikes, so the boy’s parents met with my shop’s owner at the health club they all attend and – dressed in black robes while standing over a cauldron of boiling virgin blood – they came up with the idea to stick the kid with me so that I can apprentice him in the trade of bike repair. He learns a working man’s skill to gloat about at Republican fundraisers when he’s older, the shop gets to show how much it cares about nurturing the next generation, and his mom can have a few hours to yell at the maids in privacy. When I first heard this plan I said, “That’s great! Sir.” – because I thought I might get a raise.
“Hate your job? There’s a support group for that. It’s call ‘Everybody’ and we meet at the bar. Hahahaha!”
Connor, too, holds irrational class biases, but he aims them at the public school kids who used to wait at the bus stop with him before his parents assumed commuting duties. “Bunch of monkeys” in his words. I tell him that’s a little harsh, and he tells me that well-bred children, born to hard-working parents that make money and don’t rely on handouts, are more civilized than the rest, and deserve better educations and a chance to succeed without being dragged down. “Separate the chaff,” he elaborates.
Connor’s fine. He’s just a kid of fourteen who follows bad role models, namely his parents.
They fuck you up, your mum and dad.
They may not mean to, but they do.
They fill you with the faults they had
And add some extra, just for you.
- Philip Larkin
Every Tuesday through Thursday he comes in after school and I set him to a new asinine task. One day he peeled paint chips off the floor. On another he de-greased, then re-oiled all the door hinges. If he succeeds within a reasonable time span I give him a new pointless task, if he fails I tell him to go home. He says he wants to start working on bikes, “really working on bikes.” I tell him he’s not ready. He’ll never be ready because I never give him the opportunity to practice. As long as I’m in charge, he’ll never accrue the wealth of skills he needs to be a bike mechanic, but I make sure to dangle the prize. Keep at it, Connor; you gotta put in your time to show you’re serious. Maybe next week I’ll have something for you.
The revolution is doomed. Nobody can make me share my wealth of knowledge with Connor, and I’ll be damned if Connor’s parents would ever split their wealth with me. Because he’s well educated, the smart lad picked up on my game and stopped coming in after a few months. Then I continued my misery in solitude, waiting for the day when I make Manager.