I finally read Arthur Miller’s The Death of a Salesman. I worked a double shift at work today, 15 hours. It reminded me of the 80 page chapter in Capital about working hours, describing train conductors who would go 3 days straight without sleep, I can relate. The sunlight I saw this morning almost blinded me I was so used to the darkness, work at night, stay inside and sleep during the day. I work in a hotel, we see a lot of people who are essentially salesmen. I talk to them everyday. Hundreds of them from all over the world.
Everyday I wake up alone, travel on the subway, silent except for the noises of the train. Everyone in their own little iWorld listening to iMusic or reading an iBook. The world of me, myself and i. At work I talk to hundreds of people, but I don’t know them, I don’t care about them. Nor they I. We are there for each other only on the market. I provide a service for them, they pay my boss for my service, and after taking his tax out of it, my boss gives me enough money to buy my own services, a life. But not a life beyond biology or the market. A lonely life. A life that ends where it began, alone in bed.
Today I talked to a man who asked me to find him a prostitute. All I can think about is Willy the salesman explaining to his son seeing him as a hypocrite, as someone whose word has no value, who was caught by his son with a prostitute, that it was the loneliness that drove him to it. Loneliness.
We are a society of loners. We tell ourselves we want it that way, that we like being John Wayne. As Happy said, Willy’s dream is a decent dream, one worth striving for. One where a man is rich and has it made, where all our friends will come to our funeral. At the employee cafeteria where I work, everyone eats alone, with a table to themselves.
But in our darkest moments, when we don’t have to pose for those around us, we realize, like Bif, who we really are. We realize that seeking money, seeking all the latest toys, refrigerators, plumbing, owning a house, a car, video games, only makes us lonelier, further away from those we love and who love us.
There’s something else that makes us lonely. There was a Simpsons episode where it was discovered that the reason Homer was so stupid was because he had a crayon shoved up his nose. When pulled out, Homer became smart. He and Lisa become best friends, able to share in intellectual discussions. But Homer soon realizes how shallow the rest of society was. His intelligence made him unable connect with the rest of humanity which enjoyed being dumbed down, distracted and isolated from each other. He chooses to stick the crayon back up his nose. He choose to remain ignorant to his atomization.
Many don’t even have that option. Blissfully unaware that there is a life beyond paying off a house you spend less and less time in. Linda at Willy’s grave. We paid off the home Willy, and now your dead and I have no one to share it with. But we made it. We’re home free now. We free Willy. We’re free.
A woman in my department clocked out, then came back to work. I asked her why. She said to not get overtime since we were in the slow season. A sweet woman, but to willing to give of herself for people who don’t care about her.
What does it mean when I sleep, I dream of being at work? When I answer my phone calls at home the way I do at work- “Good evening, guest service, how may I assist you?” When I look at the sugary candy made with the milk of imprisoned animals and the labor of wage-slaves, and I crave the taste of it? When I use examples from literature, tv and work instead of personal encounters or social situations? When we do our flirting with others through Facebook, alcohol and mind-numbing movies made by people we’ll never meet. They know the cynicism this creates, which is why they sell it back to us. Who know’s, maybe I’ll end up selling this writing. This is the freedom we bring to other countries.
Was room 3001 lonely? Will he be like Willy and Happy, lonely even with someone in bed with them? A quick rush, like eating a candy bar, or buying something you don’t need, but then you feel the emptiness inside? Where will the prostitute be when you die? When you die, will you realize that you were the prostitute?
I’m an only child, would I feel the same way if I had a brother or sister, or would I become just as alienated from them as I am from the rest of my family?
How did my dad do it all those years? Numbers numbing his mind everyday for decades. He once told me that his being a yes man was paying my college tuition. Am I capable of doing the same for my kid? We want the next generation to be better than ours, but is there another way? Is there a way for our kids to do better than us without simply using material wealth as a measuring stick?
Willy’s family were the only people who attended his funeral.