Saturday, December 5, 2015

Going back to Phil?

May 29, 1985

I don’t trust Phil.
He’s one of those all-American business types looking for a way to stab you in the back.
And I don’t like the way he refers to blacks, mocking them as if speaking about a lower life form.
“I’m hiring new people,” he sad to me last week on the phone. “Trying to get the place half and half again.”
In many ways, he acts like the Old South did in the early 1960s when black people were seen as good for nothing – not even work.”
And here I cam going back there, knowing that somewhere in that narrowed little mind of Phil’s there is a scheme.
Maybe he intends to build the place up so he can sell it again, reaping yet another mass profit.
What works twice will work three times – although I am of the philosophy that a boy crying wolf eventually gets eaten, only in this came, we’re playing with sharks.
This is a time of dishonest living, of big fish eating little fish. But Phil is a little fish with a bloated belly. While he believes himself grown, his actually fattening himself up for a still bigger fish than he is.
Maybe that’s why I’m going back – to see him consumed.
But there is something self-destructive in this process, too.
This week I gave up the Bloomfield job, a secure position that would well have lasted me years, and took up with Phil and his brooding mall work.
Around the mall others [I knew] are slowly fading away, too, moving on, leaving behind the impression that everything must radically change.
Good old Wild Bill, the night guard for three years, changed his job to become a porter, and then quit his job entirely to leave night duties to two crazy men.
And for a time it seemed as if they could hold onto it all, keeping Mall and themselves content.
But they aren’t Dan and do not have the experience or the integrity of Wild Bill.
Nobody (mall rats) fears them the way they did Dan. And Wild Bill was a special man, stupid sometimes, but only because of his stubborn streak. He often had opinions about things he knew nothing about, and yet picked up on details that brought surprising truths out of his mouth.
He and I often conflicted. I was always trying to kept him to fact things he tried to ignore, things that as it turned out, could not be easily solved – such as locking the doors at night so that people inside could not get out without a key.
But that was the fault of the mall corporation, a Nazi-like answer to overnight theft. Instead of building on trust, they dealt in fear and intimidation, not seeking so much to catch thieves as to make it impossible for anyone to ever steal from them.
This is one of the fundamental issues of our time, and comes back to Phil’s perspective on people.
Instead of creating conditions in which workers won’t steal, malls and business people like Phil seek to make people fear them, punishing everybody with suspicion and in the case of the night guard, Dan, locking doors to keep us in.
I told Dan that any order imprisoning me was a crime against humanity and that Dan has to decide between disobeying bad orders issued by his superiors or engaging my rage.
It took him a long painful time when he finally opened the doors, he felt guilt.

His replacements keep the doors open until management catches them, and then they locked them again and shrug.

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