Democracy and the Middle Class

1. The chicken does not fear man. In fact, the chicken fears nothing.

2. The chicken has lost the ability to fly.

3. In the wild, the chicken no longer exists. Released from the farms of man, the chicken would quickly die.

4. The chicken has given man his liberty in exchange for food, given man his liberty in exchange for security, given man his liberty in exchange for the coop.

5. The chicken will one day, suddenly, have his throat cut by a man. He lives and eats only for the slaughter.

6. It is a hard bargain but it works for the chicken.


Ken works the parking lot with Sam. Ken is slow moving and hunched, with a thick black moustache and bifocal glasses. He speaks little and in a low mumble, though you will often see him walking a cart through the lot muttering to himself. Ken sleeps in his minivan behind the Meyer Grocery. He came into some money a few years ago after being hit by a car while riding a bicycle and he was able to move into an apartment. But the money went fast and not even a year later he was back sleeping behind the Meyer Grocery. Teddy over at Teddy’s Sandwiches gives him lunch for free because he feels sorry for him.

Last year Ken didn't show up to work for 2 months. Nobody knew where he was until his brother called saying he was recovering from a terrific car accident. When Ken returned to work he told Bill Lange there hadn’t been any accident, he had been locked up. It started when his car broke down and because he did not own a cell phone he began knocking on doors asking for help. Nobody would help him. When a woman tried to shut the door on him Ken kicked the door in and walked into her house telling her he needed to use her phone. She started screaming and he told her: Shut the fuck up. Sit the fuck down. Ken called a tow truck and then walked back to his car. The tow truck arrived along with 3 squad cars and they took Ken to jail. No one Ken knew had the money to bail him out and he spent 2 months in jail. When he finished telling Bill Lange this story he asked him for seven thousand dollars.

Ken returning to the parking lot

Ken choosing a snack from the vending machine



You could hear Sam snorting and grunting from the electrical aisle. In the break room Little Dave, the Puerto Rican forklift driver, had him laughing.

“How about Ricky? Can you whup him, Sam?”

“I-I-I can whup Ricky,” said Sam. “I-I-I c-can whup Ricky up and down the lumber aisle.”

He saw me sit down and went silent.

“Sam, can you take Patrick?” Little Dave asked.

I caught him staring at me and he looked away.

“I can take Patrick,” he mumbled. He was looking at the floor.

“Sam. Show him the Elephant.” Little Dave winked at me. “C’mon, Sam. Do the Elephant.”

Sam glanced at me and I smiled at him and he smiled back weakly. He wasn’t sure he should do it.

“Do the Elephant, Sam.”

Then he stood up and extending a hairy, bulky arm as a sort of trunk, he cupped his mouth with his other hand and began to trumpet like an elephant. He raised and lowered his arm as he trumpeted and then he bent over and dragged the knuckles of his trunk along the floor. Little Dave and I were laughing. Sam was smiling broadly.

“I-I-I got another one,” he said to me. “I-I can do the Turkey Dance.”

“Do it, Sam. Do it,” said Little Dave.

He stuck out his head, and with his eyes opened wide he shook his head violently from side to side while flapping his arms. Shaking his head had the effect of swinging the flesh of his double chin like a turkey wattle. He stomped one foot as he flapped and shook. He performed the dance for almost a minute before collapsing in his seat in exhaustion.

We were still laughing when Sam said to me: “Ron, he says--he says, I’m the best lot attendant he--he’s ever seen.”

He also said Ron the Store Manager had made him Department Head of the parking lot. He was proud of this appointment and I congratulated him. After Sam left to retrieve shopping carts, Little Dave explained that the parking lot was not officially designated a department and could have no Department Head, but that Sam was not to know this. What Little Dave told me next I was not ever to speak of either.

The previous summer Romanian Cris had invited a few co-workers, including Sam, to his bachelor party at a strip club. It was Sam’s first time around strippers and he had been very nervous until after a few drinks, and the attention of one stripper, Romanian Cris had paid to send him to the champagne room. No one saw Sam after that and the party ended without Sam turning up. Sam did not return to work until the middle of the following week and he refused to talk about what had happened. Sam avoided the break room and would not sit down. Jim Bondi from millwork noticed Sam was walking more slowly than usual and with some prodding, and Bondi’s promise to tell no one, Sam explained what had happened.

In the champagne room the stripper told Sam to take off his clothes. She put a blindfold on him and had him get down on all fours and told him not to move or make any sound. The stripper then inserted an extra large black plastic vibrating dildo inside his rectum. Sam let her work the dildo on him even though he wasn’t sure about it and it hurt. She used it on him until he had to leave the room and afterwards he went straight home. For days he couldn’t walk or sit down without pain. Jim Bondi recommended the next time Sam insist upon some sort of lubricant. Lubrication worked wonders, Jim Bondi said, and he encouraged Sam to try it again. Sam did not seem convinced.



I want to leave America and never come back to America and take America with me wherever I go.


George and Lester

I was on the forklift bringing down a pallet of topsoil when a hefty man wearing glasses stopped me.

“You’ll need to bring that pallet down. Then you’ll need to bring down these others.” He was holding a clipboard and read off the SKU numbers to at least 25 different products.

“Yes,” I said. “I know.” I found it interesting he believed I could recognize which products he was talking about from just their six-digit SKU numbers. There were approximately 45,000 individually SKU-ed products in the store.

“Then you’ll need to replace that pallet of Moisture Control at the sliding doors,” said the man with the clipboard.

“Yes,” I said. “I do that every night.” I had never seen this man before.

This guy with the clipboard then called out to a thin older black man who had been standing in front of the wall of decorative urns since I had come to work. The old black man he called Lester and he motioned him inside. I watched the black man shuffle off after the man with the clipboard and I went back to bringing down pallets.

Later on Paul told me who the man was: “Oh, that’s ‘Clipboard George’. He’s a daytime manager. He just walks around with a clipboard telling people to do things. He’s useless. He always has that clipboard.”

During the night Clipboard George would call over the loudspeaker for Lester to meet him at certain parts of the store. They would stand together looking up at a wall of shelving and Clipboard George would check his clipboard and point. Lester would nod his head in agreement. When Clipboard George left, Lester would move a few items on the shelves and then he would wander off. Clipboard George would return later and look at the shelving and look at his clipboard. He would call Lester back over the loudspeaker and do more pointing at the shelving. Lester would nod in agreement. Then Lester would do a little more work and wander off again. Clipboard George and Lester were working together.



I’ve never spoken to Gary in millwork and I was advised not to. Gary is a big, long-haired biker who recently had a his Harley repo-ed. He is also a diabetic who does not manage his sugar intake very well. Often you will see Gary standing and staring blankly, totally unresponsive. If you are male it is best not to approach him when he is in this state as any effort to help him will result in him punching you in the face. He assaulted a policeman once and has slugged 3 other employees and 1 customer. But if you are a female he will respond quickly and with a big grin and will accept any assistance. He has a thing for women and will follow after any female employee with his arms open, trying to hug her.

There is an often told story of one of Gary’s most serious diabetic attacks. Gary was helping a long line of customers when he felt it coming on and with it the powerful urge to go to the bathroom. He assisted all the customers but one and as he was helping this final customer his bowels began to give and he abruptly ran across the store towards the bathroom. Just before the bathroom door Gary’s bowels gave way and he stripped off his jeans and underwear right there, leaving a brown trail into the toilet stall. Next he tried to flush his shit-stained jeans and underwear down the toilet and flooded the bathroom. He came out some time later wearing only a shirt, naked from the waist down, his legs smeared with feces. He walked slowly through the store to the front desk and told the manager: “I fucking shit myself. Look at me, I’m covered in shit. I’m going home and you can't fucking stop me.” The manager on duty did not protest. Patrick from electrical volunteered to clean up Gary’s shit. They gave Patrick $50 for it.

A Brief Summary of Recovery (written for a drug addicted friend to encourage his return to health)

In 1999 I stopped riding my bike and I settled in Paris. In place of cycling and travel and adventure, I took up drinking and smoking and eating. I lived with one French girl and then a second, who was truly beautiful. This seemed a wonderful and natural progression in my life at the time. I was living in a new way. I did not understand then that I had begun a course of killing myself faster.

A decade later I was married to that beautiful French girl and living in Miami and New York. By this time I was a professional drinker and smoker. I took pride in that I did more of each, and for longer, than anyone I knew. I exercised aggressively, though in short duration, and believed this sustained me through days and nights of drinking.

But I was far gone. Early in that year I had suffered through a week of being hardly able to move. My joints were so swollen and painful that I could hardly get out of bed, my body so weakened and depleted I could not lift my arm to the cupboard to open it. It took me 3 minutes to walk across our 900 sq ft apartment. Still, I did not stop drinking and smoking. When I did eat my diet was devoid of any nutritional value. I did not drink water and lived in constant dehydration. I suffered from intense fatigue and had to drink coffee and energy shots to stay awake through the day. I would often take multiple naps of sometimes 2 hours each. Still, I did nothing to change my life and expected these problems to pass.

I remember the morning I decided to change. My wife had been gone for 6 months at this point. Since I sent her away all I had done was drink harder, smoke more, snort cocaine, and chase women. The world stock markets were collapsing and I had been short massively the day before but had covered and gotten into a much larger position long. I awoke that morning praying the bottom was in.

It wasn’t. Next to me in bed was a naked fat girl. I seemed to recall a pretty-faced Cuban from the night before. Then I recalled the shock of getting her clothes off. The loose skin hung from her stomach from the gastric bypass that brought her down from 500lbs. The fat girl was snoring loudly. Clearly it had been some sort of charity fuck. My mouth hurt and was full of what I thought was saliva. I went to the bathroom and began to spit but instead of saliva I was spitting blood. Bright red, fresh blood. It kept coming out of my mouth. There were blood spots all over the sink and countertop. I was bleeding from my gums. There were darkened brown patches on each of the gum areas between my teeth. I flushed my mouth with water but the bleeding wouldn‘t stop.

I went back into the room and checked the futures. They were limit down. The market was fucked. My positions were fucked. My body was fucked. The girl moaned and called out to me. I walked over to the bed and looked at her. She begged me to fuck her again before she went to work. I just looked at her and then went to the bathroom to spit more blood. She was waiting for me when I came out. She was bent over on the bed with her ass up. I saw the stain on the sheets and remembered how she had vomited on my stomach while trying to take all of my cock down her throat. What a fucking mess.

“Just get the fuck outta here,” I mumbled. I was afraid to open my mouth. “Get the fuck outta here. I’m serious.” I went back to the bathroom to spit blood.

She left finally. I puked my positions and found a doctor who would see me. I was fucked and I knew it. I accepted it. It was only a matter of how I was to die and what they called it.

But the doctor said I could be saved. Drink, cigarettes, drugs and a terrible diet had done this to me. You’ve got to change, she said. Your body is breaking down. That day I had my last cigarette. Drinking was harder to quit. Though I did not drink for a few weeks it was to be some months later before I had my last.

It was in New York that I got drunk for the final time. It was Super Bowl Sunday and I went at it as seriously as I used to. The next day the fatigue returned and the glands on my neck just below my jawbones were swollen. The next day they were even larger and aching. My strength left me, my body ached all over, I was dizzy, and even the lightest exercise was impossible. I was fucked all over again. I pledged to myself that if I could live there would be no more drinking. I pledged to drink only water. I pledged to take my vitamins and eat only what my body needed. If only I would not die but be given another chance.

It took 1 month before the swelling in my glands had gone down. And then in the following months I began to slowly feel better. I moved to Chicago and began cycling. I stopped talking to everyone I knew. I did not need anything but my body. I became a night worker and exercised my body throwing tons of bags of soil and stone and brick. I drove forklifts. I spent much of my days outside. I began to recover what was animal in me. I added to the cycling and night labor a rigorous kettlebell and weight program. My strength returned as I had not known it before. My muscles expanded. My clothing fit tightly on my body. I began to look more youthful. I walked differently. The world responded to me differently. I had the sort of physical confidence I once had before I put down my bicycle a decade before.

But most magical was the return of my mind. I was doing good philosophy again and the original thoughts were substantial and lasted more than a few days. The writing returned as well. I was seeing the world again and its depths and I did not feel dull or dazzled. I realized I had been reduced to a great degree for a long time. Each day that I thought I was back--and that my physical and intellectual strength could not be any greater-- I was surprised that in the next I felt even stronger. I had neglected the life of my body and had nearly lost everything because of it.

I realized I didn’t need anything. I realized my time was all I was and that I would no longer give it up for wives, booze, drugs, parties, television, bars, and definitely not for money. Yes, I needed some money, but I only wanted to make money doing something that increased my physical strength. I would not work any job that did not contribute directly to this project of increasing my strength. Night laboring was perfect and I was the hardest worker anyone had ever seen. But they did not understand that I did not do the job for the money. They would not understand that I did the job for the challenge. These other workers lived as I once did: living in a way that killed them faster.

What is wonderful about the life of health is how cheap it is. Sure, the knowledge worker office jobs pay more, but I have little use for that money today. I have no large expenses. I only need to pay for my needs, which my body reminds me of. The other problem with the knowledge worker jobs is that they are not intellectually challenging (true intellectual challenges are my own projects). So other than more money, I see no reason to do such jobs. And, as above, I have no use for more money. The physical labor jobs can also be left whenever I wish to leave them (for travel or more intense periods of writing and study) and returned to or new ones found. I understand now why Wittgenstein recommended his philosophy students work in canning factories.



Dan is the burly bearded guy in plumbing. If you’ve ever talked to him you know who I’m talking about. Dan addresses everyone, including women, as “little buddy.” Hi Dan, you’ll say. He’ll say, “Hey there little buddy,” or “Little buddy, I can’t wait to get this day going!” I remember his concern when the store hired an older guy actually named Buddy. I never did find out how Dan addressed him. The other thing about Dan is his enthusiasm. You’ll say, “Dan, how are ya?” And he will stop and hold out his hand to stop you, make a dramatic pause, and then say: “How am I doing? You wanna know, little buddy? I’m doing spectacular. Little buddy, I can’t believe it! Unbelievable is how I’m doing! Wow!” I went through this a couple of times with Dan and watched him respond this way to others. I no longer ask Dan how he is doing.


It's so sexy
To be living in America
Copyright © Moraline Free