Jenny went to work. She got up early enough to shower and put on her clothes and makeup so that nobody would hassle her, and got on the train early enough to not be late enough to be hassled about it. At work, she did three or four hours worth of low-engagement work over eight and a half hours.
The work didn’t mean much on its own, but in concert with the other people in the company, it accomplished the task of getting some money out of some rich people, who got money out of other rich people, who got money out of tens of millions of poor people. Once Jenny’s firm got their share of the money, they spread it around, in order of how rich everyone at the company was. Jenny wasn’t rich yet, but she was richer than she used to be when she worked harder, so she made more money.
She was wasting a lot of time, which meant the company was wasting a lot of money, but it was still chugging along, because it and all the business around it were run like businesses, which meant nobody was keeping very good track of what the money was being used for.
When she got off work, she went to a bar for rich people, and bought drinks with some of her friends. They weren’t quite rich enough for it to be a good idea to spend money there, but they didn’t see themselves getting there anytime soon, so overspending now was a better bet than saving for later.
Jenny considered changing her name to Jennifer. She considered changing it to Jen. She wondered which of the names would be the real self.
Bryan went to work. He woke up very early so that he would catch everyone by surprise when he went in to work and didn’t seem to have ever not been fully awake. His job was to be more awake and confident than other people and have them believe that everything was in order. He had no idea whether or not it was, because needing to know that was a sign of weakness. Bryan had all the signs of weakness memorized. He tried to find them in other people and not have them find them in him. He was very successful. People saw all his confidence and figured he was supposed to have things.
After work he went to the same bar Jenny did. He could have gone to a bar for richer people even than that one, but then he wouldn’t have been one of the richer people there. It was easier to keep up his confidence when he could feel people looking up to him.
Bryan had a very nice suit. He was considering getting an even nicer one, but first he would have to see it in a magazine that would assure him that it was new enough to give him an advantage but broadly accepted enough that nobody would think he didn’t know or follow the rules. He turned on his iPhone and reminded his digital assistant to remind him to remind his assistant to remind him to remind his secretary to order him the newest copies of the magazines that told you what suits would best make you appear confident.
He didn’t want to go home. His wife knew how obsessed he was with confidence, and he knew that she found that pathetic. She tried to not let him know, but the trying only confirmed her lack of confidence in his ability to keep his confidence up at the first sign of her lack of confidence.
Rita went to work. She woke up very early to make sure that her son did the basic things that kept him alive, the more advanced things that kept him happy and healthy, and the even more advanced things that would make him a human with a huge variety of virtues. She also tried to get in some quality time with him. She’d been doing the same thing more or less for six years, since he had come bursting through her body.
Once she got to work, Rita covered for a lot of people’s mistakes at work. She knew how things worked well, which was an asset to the company, which held her like an asset it neither wanted to lose nor pay. Some people didn’t know how things worked, so they made mistakes, and she would find out and correct the mistakes. Sometimes she would tell them. Most of the people whose mistakes she caught were richer than she was. Some of the younger and more naive ones resented her for catching their mistakes, and upsetting their faith that the reason they were making more money was meritocracy. Others were happy with it, because it was much less dangerous to them than their error being caught by a richer person who might be considered potentially their rival for merit.
In the middle of the day, Rita went by the school to transport her son home, where her mother also lived. She also ate her lunch in her car during this time, because she didn’t get a lunch break.
After work, Rita went to work at the same bar where Jenny and Bryan were customers. She stood behind the bar with a few other people. Some of them talked to people and poured drinks and got more money. Rita washed glasses, moved bottles, cut limes, wiped down the bar, helped other people behind the bar with the things that they needed, and made less money.
A lot of money went to the owners of the bar. The customers at the bar had lots of money, and a lot of it was spent there. They accepted that the prices were high. But they did not accept the idea of paying much extra money to the workers, so the workers did not end up getting much money.
Jimmy didn’t go to work.
He woke up when he woke up. There wasn’t a set time to it. When he woke up he smoked weed. He had forgotten why, if there was ever a why, but now he was happy to wake up, because he associated it with smoking weed.
He didn’t worry about much.
[to be continued]