"Abandon All Hope Ye Who Enter Here"

 “…there is an idea of a Patrick Bateman, some kind of abstraction, but there is no real me, only an entity, something illusory, and though I can hide my cold gaze and you can shake my hand and feel flesh gripping yours and maybe you can even sense our lifestyles are probably comparable: I simply am not there. It is hard for me to make sense on any given level. Myself is fabricated, an aberration. I am a noncontingent human being. My personality is sketchy and unformed, my heartlessness goes deep and is persistent. My conscience, my pity, my hopes disappeared a long time ago (probably at Harvard) if they ever did exist. There are no more barriers to cross. All I have in common with the uncontrollable and the insane, the vicious and the evil, all the mayhem I have caused and my utter indifference toward it, I have now surpassed. I still, though, hold on to one single bleak truth: no one is safe, nothing is redeemed. Yet I am blameless. Each model of human behavior must be assumed to have some validity. Is evil something you are? Or is it something you do? My pain is constant and sharp and I do not hope for a better world for anyone. In fact, I want my pain to be inflicted on others. I want no one to escape. But even after admitting this—and I have countless times, in just about every act I’ve committed—and coming face-to-face with these truths, there is no catharsis. I gain no deeper knowledge about myself, no new understanding can be extracted from my telling. There has been no reason for me to tell you any of this. This confession has meant nothing….”
This is an excerpt from one of my favorite novels, American Psycho, written by one of my favorite authors, Brett Easton Ellis.  It display’s discontent and disassociation to its utmost extreme, it symbolizes existence on a human level, but nonexistence on a humane level.  And it represents the point that I’m almost at.  I’m tired.  I’m tired of reading the paper, I’m tired of watching the news, and growing more and more tired by the day of witnessing societal downfalls not necessarily on a daily basis, but more like an hourly basis.  I recently did a post on how to fix society, and as well received as it was, I think I may have been wrong.  Because this may not be a fixable situation at all.  Society may have to be scraped entirely and started again, or maybe even not started again, since by human nature, we will in all probability end up right here each and every time.  Now if you’ve seen the movie, you’re probably saying to yourself, “Great, does this mean Brad is going to start running around with a nail gun, or a chainsaw, dismembering random strangers in an attempt to both rid the world of its problems and satisfy himself?”  To those people asking that question, I’ll say this.  Read the book. It goes way beyond the outrageous exploits of Christian Bale splattering blood everywhere, and delves into the psychology of everyman. Although the book isn’t without its graphic details. Details that in all honesty trump the gore in the movie and make you wonder if there are really people out there this sick and twisted (and yes, sadly there are).  The book both blatantly and in tones of underlie have a strong and clear message of troubling times.   For example, in the book it is implied that “Patrick Bateman” could very well be anyone of us.  Anyone who has just sickened to the point that they “simply are not there”.  It is also made obvious that his “random blood thirsts” are fantasy, not reality, and that all of his killings, while sadistic and seemingly real, are only in fact being played out in his head.  Now, the difference between us and a “Patrick Bateman” is relative at best.  We have all at one point or another thought to ourselves, “Ya, this guy could go” and we leave it at that.  Whereas “Bateman” plots plans and fantasizes explicitly about the execution of random strangers.  But where is the line?  And I don’t mean the line between thinking and doing, because you or I aren’t going to act out on our inclinations, but the line that distinguishes abnormality from normal?  The line where one person versus so many one persons on such a regular basis might as well be anyone anywhere.  (And just to reiterate, this is all mentally)  The line is in fact very thin, very narrow, and hard to see, and it doesn’t take a whole lot to cross over it, and become albeit not a murderous angle of death, but a disillusioned, disenfranchised person, who really just doesn’t care.  What’s the juxtaposition here?  Where did this come from you ask?  Let me tell you.

Yesterday I observed, or was active in three different occasions that were disheartening, if not downright appalling to the point of restlessness. The first started out routinely enough.  I was in line at the coffee shop, waiting to get a cup before I headed to work.  Now, the coffee shop in question is notorious for not being expedient.  If you’re from the area, you know that going in, but it’s in a convenient location, so sometimes it has to do.   The guy in front of me orders his drink, and moves down a bit.  Decent enough looking fellow, nice suit, proper haircut, one of those Bluetooth things hanging from his ear (should have been my first tip off).  Anyway, I order my drink, and move down behind him.  I’m not sure what was going on to be honest, because I wasn’t paying attention, but apparently the girl making his, whatever it was, wasn’t doing it as fast as he wanted it to be done.  And he starts letting her have it.  And I don’t mean sighing and uttering “come on” under his breathe, but just ripping her a new one to the point where this girl, who was no older than 16 if she was 70, gets all red in the face and tearing up a little.  Again, I was screwing around with my phone and wasn’t paying attention, so I don’t know exactly what happened, but I’m watching this grown man tear into some kid, and I’m thinking, there is absolutely nothing that could go on in a coffee shop in the minute or two that we have been here that requires this type of reaction from anyone.  Looking around, I see none of her coworkers or managers coming by to help her out, or do anything about it, so I figure I’ll look into it.  I calmly got a little closer to the guy, and I say to him quietly so no one can hear but us “hey man, she’s just a kid, probably new here, you’ll get your coffee in a minute, lay off her a bit”, thinking maybe he is having a bad day or what not, and just needs to be reminded that a minute or a coffee or whatever the case is, isn’t exactly catching your wife cheating with your brother.  This guy, dressed proper, appearing to be of some importance, turns face to face to me, looks me up and down, and says, no word of a lie, “What the fuck are you going to do about it asshole?”  I took about a second and a half to process this, and couldn’t help but let out a little chuckle.  Not so much a laugh, more on the level of typing LOL in a text message maybe, and said to him, even calmer, and nicer then I had previously spoke to him, “Why don’t you say one more word to that kid and find out.”  He proceeds to stare at me for what felt like about 5 minutes, but was actually probably closer to 20 seconds, chest all hulked out like he was going to do something, all the while I’m just looking back at him with this look of “not impressed” on my face.  Finally the girl puts his coffee up on the counter and he turns and grabs it, looks at me, and says “you’re lucky day” and walks out.  The girl gives me my coffee and starts to thank me, but I cut her off, and say “don’t worry about it, the guys a prick, forget it even happened”, and I leave.

Later on that night, we had situation number two.  Now let me paint a picture for you.  It was a pretty bad snow storm last night, not so much accumulation wise, but nonstop precipitation wise, and it was pretty cold, which made for some treacherous driving conditions.  The roads were made of ice, with a nice couple inch thick protective layer of slush on top.  Fun times, right? On top of that, there was a really bad accident on my route involving 4 cars and a tractor trailer, which must have resulted in a couple fatalities since they had the whole street shut down from 6pm until well after I finished at 3 am.  So we had to detour around the block all night long.  Detour plus horrible weather equals late buses, it happens, and it’s uncontrollable, so whatever.  Now I’ve been taking it hard all night long, sans lubrication (sans of course is French for “without”, just in case you missed how hilarious that was), when I finally get to this one stop.  There were a couple people standing there, and I could tell by their body language they weren’t impressed, but whatever, out of my hands, so deal with it right?  The last guy that gets on looks at me, and yells out “so what the fuck is the problem by the way?”  I play dumb, and say, “What do you mean?” trying to get a grasp of where he wants to take this.  He says “I’ve been waiting forever, explain to me where all the god damn buses are.”  I say to him “O.K. well, it’s pretty nasty weather out here, there’s a really bad accident that has part of the street closed off, I think a couple people actually died, and I don’t think a single bus is where they are supposed to be tonight, I’m dealing with a lot of shit here, where would you like to begin?”  That usually is where these conversations end, but this guy shots back, “I’d like to begin with why I have been standing out here for 40 minutes with no bus, and maybe an apology!”  This guy is just begging to be made an example of, but I stay calm, because I’m cool like that. I gather my thoughts for a second, and I retort “Your absolutely right sir, I apologize that it’s snowing, in fact I apologize that it’s winter in general, and I assuredly apologize that some people decided to get into an accident and go and lose their lives setting off a chain reaction that eventually resulted in you having to wait for a bus.  Wait ALIVE mind you, but wait none the less, that’s unacceptable.”  Without batting an eye, this guy says, and I’m not kidding here, “Snow, accidents, people die, shit happens, you guys should have plans for this kind of shit, I pay way too much for my metro pass for buses to be late, fucking ridiculous.” And he storms to the back of the bus.  I know, right? I couldn’t believe it either. 

Sitch 3 came later on that night.  Around 1 am or so, I pick up this kid, nice kid, stands up at the front of the bus with me, and we chew the fat a bit.  He’s somewhat new to the area and asking how you get here or there, if he wanted to go, whatever the case, so I’m helping him out.  He’s coming home from his little part time job that he has while he’s in university and we are talking about school.  So I ask him, “how’s school going anyway, having a good time?” cause I want to hear some stories about him pinning college chicks. He says, “Yeah its ok, I guess.”  O.K. I guess? What’s this kid upset about, I’m thinking to myself.  Good looking guy, got himself a little job, going to school.  So I prod a little more to find out (not only do I drive a bus, but I do some part time counseling on the side apparently).  He tells me this story about how he got robbed at school yesterday.  I’m thinking someone went into his locker or something, but no, apparently 4 guys walked up to him in broad daylight at the university, and took his back pack with his laptop in it, his wallet and cell phone.  Now I’m confused at this point, and I ask him “So this guy tells you to give him your stuff, and you just hand it over?” he says “Yes”.  I say “Did they have guns? Or knives? What happened?” he says “No, no weapons, they just said give it to them so I did.” I ask “Why didn’t you punch the guy in his throat, and use your Nike’s to get the hell out of there?” Because even I’m not dumb enough to fight four on one, and he says “Why? I’m just going to see them at school the next day, and then it will be worse.  It’s ok, I have a job, it will take a while, but I’ll replace the stuff eventually.”  Now I’m really confused. Me, “They go to your school?” Him “Yes”.  Me, “So on Monday you’re going to bring a shovel to school with you, and when you see them, before they even know what’s happening, you’re going to crush the back of their skulls and take your shit back, right?” Him, “No, it’s cool, I don’t care.” He goes on to tell me that there are a lot of people at his school that do this stuff, they take people’s jackets, bags, wallets etc, and will even wear the stuff the next day.  No one does anything about it, because there is no point.  Readers, you need to understand something here, this is an internationally recognized University we are talking about.  Not some technical high school deep in the hood.  Someone, somewhere, be it the kids themselves, the parents, hell, it could even be me, is paying probably between 10 to 20 thousand dollars a year for these kids to be there, to get an education and better themselves, to become an active contributing member to our society.  Then why the hell are they acting like they are still in Compton (re: Steeles and Driftwood).  And I don’t give a fuck where they came from, why are they even in university in the first place, if they just want to act like an animal?  Save everyone the time, effort and money, and just go sell drugs, get caught up in street violence and eventually get killed.  One year’s tuition could cover off like 15-20 of these kids’ tombstones, and the rest of the money could go to the kids who need it, like nice guy on my bus. 

As you can clearly see, it’s awfully ugly out there.  In fact I don’t know what’s worse, the ever rising sense of self entitlement or the defiantly blatant level of disrespect.  Everyday though, whether it’s the girl at the coffee shop, the young hard working kid on my bus, or even myself, someone gets pushed an inch closer to toeing that line of giving a shit or abandoning all hope and dissolving into an “American Psycho” of sorts.  Something needs to be done though, and soon, because eventually people will mistake fantasy for reality, and that’s when things start to get disturbing.  Think Virginia Tech, think Columbine, think D.C., These are the reasons that these occurrences were incurred.  The shit happens all the time, and they are all examples of the simple fact that we all have a little “Patrick Bateman” in us. But unlike you or I, or even “Patrick” himself, not everyone can control these nuances, and could eventually react in real life as some of us (most of us hopefully; thankfully) do in the safe comforting confines of our minds.  And after what I witnessed yesterday, who can really blame anyone either?

"This Is Not An Exit"