Rich Man, Poor Man*

The following piece of ... contains gross overgeneralizations. Exceptions prove the rule.
It also contains foul language. I have no excuse.

Have you ever wondered what the grimy poor and the filthy rich have in common?** Well, I often did. It’s a disturbing thought and it weighs heavily on me. I’ve always considered myself a non-judgmental person, but here I am, passing verdicts on people based principally on their income. On those rare occasions I had had the misfortune to spend time with a despicable beggar or a contemptible mogul I felt as if I had lost an essential part of my humanity. I became a culprit and a victim of an eccentric fact of life: disparity of fortunes. I not only hated them but loathed myself as well. Damn it, why are they so offensive!

Certainly there's something about money that brings the worst in people. Its scarcity and abundance are two sides of the same fetid pie of crap. I sympathize to some extent with a hungry person who let loose the reins of his manners and acts rudely and blatantly. But how can I find it in me to justify the unquenchable greed, the flamboyant arrogance and the self absorption of the boorish, degraded and indecorous rich. The first has given up his self-respect out of dire physiological necessity. But what about the big fat insatiable monster wanting more, swallowing the green and the dry as if in a feeding frenzy. Like a deranged elephant, he blindly rampages through a village, destroying huts, breaking limbs and smashing skulls.
-"I am the mad king of the fucking jungle. It all belongs to meeeee".
I long for a loaded “.416 Rigby” rifle to shoot the damn beast right between the eyes. Good riddance mother-fucker.

Can I still get away with a statement such as I’m not a violent person? I truly am not, but I’m getting offended time after time in an alarmingly skyrocketing frequency. I, too, am searching for money. I need to make more of it to sustain a decent lifestyle for myself and my family. My requirements, my burdens, my responsibilities have increased, as always. I am a professional and I don’t know two ways around my dilemma. I’m only familiar with the old fashioned one: you need more you work more. That translates into working longer hours, getting a second job or practically both. The long working hours I’ve been putting in, day in, day out, have eventually caught up with me. I’ve become an irritable person. I don’t want to play with the kids anymore, I don’t have time. I don’t want to hang out with friends any more, I don’t have time. I can’t read, I can’t write, I can’t laugh, I can’t smile, I can't think… I don’t have time. You see why I can commiserate with the poor and hungry now, don’t you? I'm not in real need as they certainly are, yet I’ve managed to screw up my life with superfluous aspiration. I’m head over heels in the goddamn rat race. I’m wearing rubber boots and shoveling through the gutters with my associates and colleagues, the fucking white-collars, feeling snobbish and superior as the smutty blue-collars are swimming deep in shit nearby, hauling filled buckets. Above ground, the repulsively ugly, hideously malformed rich are counting the cash and replacing the tired and the dead in the sewer.
"Send in more", they don’t bother write it themselves the sonsofbitches. Smart-looking, long-legged secretaries type the message:

To: Human Resources
Cc: Warehouse

Subject: Send in More


Recruiting 2 whites, 5 blues.
Dispatch immediately.

Needed: 2 pairs of rubber boots, 5 pairs of plastic sandals, 2 shovels, 5 buckets.

Marv, are you coming to the boss’ party on Saturday to kiss ass. I’ll be there sucking balls.
Love, Julia

I still have some sense in me, so I’ll stop. A glimmer of light though. I feel a little better :-)

*"Rich Man, Poor Man" is the title of a great 1970 novel by Irwin Shaw

** I forgot to answer the fundamental question of this article: "What do the grimy poor and the filthy rich have in common?" Well, they are both disgustingly hungry.


annie said…
Once more, one of your delightful posts at the start of my day.

If you have children to put thru college that is certainly a brake on your freedom and you have no choice. But do you need all the trappings of the luxury you enjoy?

At 49 years old I gave up my excellent, well paid job for freedom and I have never regretted it . I still had to work but at my chosen time.
Ne perds pas ton temps pour de l'argent. Our useful lives are short.
Anonymous said…
Sounds like you need a holiday...or at least a break!
Your comments on the poor vs the rich were interesting. It seems quintessentially middle class to despise either extreme, deeming one to be vulgar and the other decadent.
Personally, I think it's best to find the happy medium, work only enough so that you can enjoy your life and can afford all that you need in order to achieve that, once you start feeling unhappy then you've gone too far
Dubai Jazz said…
Abu Fares, one of your bests in a while. Very well written and very true.
Abufares said…
Hi annie
I have no choice, you're right. My first has started college and there are two more to go. It looks as if I'm going to be tied up for quite a while.
We're almost the same age, you and me. I'll be 48 in less than a month. I wish I could lay back and relax, but I guess I have to keep going full speed for a while longer. You did the right thing annie. I look forward joining you soon.
Abufares said…
A holiday would be nice but it's only a temporary tranquilizer. I had to shift gear and push hard. I hope I can get to a steady easy cruise again. Annie did the right thing. I wish I could follow suit real soon.
Abufares said…
Hi Dubai Jazz
I've been unable to write for a while. Not only I didn't have time but I ran dry as well.
I thought about it intermittently and decided to write about what's bugging me exactly.
Thank you for being there (here).
Anonymous said…
For some attitude adjustment, along the lines proposed by Annie above, try Mark Slouka's excellent essay on the virtues of idelness ( costs too much, as he says...!

Take care buddy...
Anonymous said…
Abufares, you´ve got me there, the dilema, it seams that there are not more than 2 choices, with it or againset it,
I alwayes remember how my father lived, he never had a car,never had life security, at his time there were very few objects that could compaire poor from rich, he was happy, very happy, he could close his shop all the afternoons of april and go terghol hunting and usually 2 times a week fishing, to get to asleep for him ,just few seconds, these people from the past were free and happy, once i showed him a modern graphite fishing rod , he was not impressed,he loughed and said, at those times it was so easy to go fishing, all I needed was a needle, thread, 2 cooked eggs and my bycicle,
modern life is complicated and artificial ,
I didn´t sell my soul to devil,
whom do you htink is happyier the dog or the wolf ?
gone fishing,,,,,,,,,,
annie said…
Hi Abu Fares,

I quit when I was 49 but to tell you the whole truth that was 21 years ago !
After which I worked 3-4 months a year until 1997, really loved my work more than I had during my years as a permanent staff member, then stopped altogether.
Now, I am extremely busy; even went back to translating but balash and for a cause and working on material I really believe in.
It was Joe Louis who said ; I have been rich and I have been poor and being rich is better.
But the fewer your needs, the richer you will feel.

If you have insomnia then it is time to take a break and reassess .
Take care
Anonymous said…
Tawwil balak!!
Unknown said…
Vent away. Nothing beats writing or reading a post like this.
Amazing style as usual Abufares
saint said…
- I feel your pain brother, it is unnatural to place a shark inside a fish-farm, he would wipe out all the fish, no mercy. Although your post is too grim, however it reminded me with a joke I heard recently:
A man was riding in the back of his limousine when he saw a man eating grass by the roadside. He ordered his driver to stop and he got out to investigate.
"Why are you eating grass?" he asked the man.
"I don't have any money for food," the poor man replied.
"Oh, please come to my house!"
"But sir, I have a wife and four children..."
"Bring them along!" the rich man said.
They all climbed into the limo. Once underway, the poor fellow said, "Sir, you are too kind. Thank you for taking all of us in."
The rich man replied, "No, you don't understand. The grass at my house is over three feet tall!"
- Which make you think, what would happen if poor and rich live in a place with no grass?
Abufares said…
Unfortunately I couldn't read the article as the link is broken.
Nice to hear from you again.
Abufares said…
Your father is obviously a wise man. From within, I'm exactly like him. Yet, it will be hard to tackle life in this manner nowadays.
I used to hunting twice a week for years... but those were simpler times. Alas!
Abufares said…
21 years are not worth much after 40 (hahaha).
I'm sleeping like a log, going in and out of bed early.
You know what the very poor and very rich have in common, they both need more money and that probably explains their repulsive attitudes. Again, I sympathize with the "Have Nots" but feel that it's my moral obligation to point my finger (preferably my middle one) in the face of the rich.
Abufares said…
I will Tawwel Bali.
Welcome on board mate.
Abufares said…
Thank you for understanding exactly the point behind this post: VENTING.
Didn't I state that simply writing about it made me feel a little better.
I'll get out of it. As a matter of fact, I might already have.
Anonymous said…
The title is "Quitting the Paint Factory" by Mark Slouka, Harpers, November 2004. A really fun and brilliant read. The link I provided above works if you copy and past it into your explorer...!

You can also try
The Syrian Brit said…
The trappings of modern life!..
You work you butt off trying to get the best for your family, but once you get on to the treadmill, it is so hard to get off it.. Your aspirations constantly drive you to work harder, but the price can be too high..
There's got to be a better way, and I'll be damned if I knew it!..
Abufares said…
Thank you for the excellent article. It's a must read for everyone over 30... well for everyone at any age (before it's too late).
Abufares said…
@Syrian Brit
CATCH 22 if there ever is one.
As soon as you figure out the "better" way, please let me know.
You know you can millions if you truly come up with a better way :-) How ironic!
david santos said…
Hi Abufares
A beautiful place here!
Excellent post! You are Master.
Thank you.
have a good day
Abufares said…
@david santos
Thank you my friend. It's always a pleasure seeing you around.
Anonymous said…
The Mark Slouka's piece is indeed very good
This particularly struck a bell
"To stay was to suffocate, slowly; to escape was to take a stab at “aliveness.”
You bet; when I realized the only think I still liked in my job was the pay check I started packing.
KJ said…
3ammo Abu Fares,

BRILLIANT POST INDEED! Best I have read anywhere and from you in a long while.

I see that, like myself, your work has sucked the living light out of your groin. You don't have a desire for anything because there is no time for it.

Just the same here! Between driving and working, there is no time for myself. And any time I have, I spend it with friends - but ultimately there is no "me" time!

My question to you is, since you've been for more generations than I have been - what made life like that?

There is no one single cause... actually there is! MONEY! That is what we grow up learning: Time is money. Everything is money.

If I want to get married now I would have to literary "browse" wives for an "affordable" one! We have to have the best wedding possible to suck balls of the people OUR PARENTS invite!

We need BIGGER, BETTER, FASTER houses, TVs and cars.

Money sucks away, and you know what Abu Fares! WHEN WE DIE WE DON'T TAKE ANY OF IT!

And all the money we worked hard on will go to the owners of the very balls we sucked.

It is nice to work: You have an objective, a goal to reach, a purpose for the day.

But it isn't the only thing we should be doing!

But who am I to talk... I am in the same maelstrom as you are.
annie said…
Once you are caught in a system there is no way out but out out.
It is the dynamics of the company where you work that dictates your behaviour.
Freelancing has its risks of course but you are outside the system and the tragedies that unfold in it are none of your concerns.
Abufares, there is life even after seventy. In fact the older I get the more I think that life is life itself. It is our spirit we have to preserve.
Anonymous said…
are we trapped in the matrix ?
see the videio on you-tube
Abufares said…
@Anonymous & Annie

What can I say! I have worked most of my life as a freelancer. I often take a contract for a year or two, sometimes more.
Presently, I'm on such a contract. I'm working my ass off. In fact I'm working so hard and long that the amount of money paid becomes irrelevant. No amount of money is right for wasting one's life in such a manner.
Yet I have to honor my part of the deal and, sadly for the time being, I need the dough. How much longer can I take this crap is yet to be known.
Let me put it this way, I will certainly celebrate the day I "esacape... to take a stab at aliveness".
There will be a party and I hope I will be as lucky and wise as Annie is and retreat completely out of the system.
I will return to gazing out of the window, working intermittently at a leisurly pace, shutting the lights off and closing the door behind me at a whim.To jump on my bike again and waste the day away.
Abufares said…
Time is not money. Time is much more valuable than this.
I don't give up easily and that's why I'm complaining. Rest assured that I will do my best to untangle myself and get away from this crap.
Your question is very difficult to answer. I believe that my life, so far, is comprised of 2 major parts: Before becoming a father & After becoming a father. As they grow older our children need more of our time and effort to sustain a decent standard of living. I don't want to sound heroic or pretentious but for the moment I'm forced to accept the very bitter medicine of "WORK HARD MAKE MONEY" for the obligations I have just mentioned. I'm not going to bother much with the fact that for every $1 we make some one is making $9 off our toil and sweat. We got our nose in their dirty game and this is a price we have to accept paying.
When I get out, I'll make sure to moon them properly. My ugly ass is the last thing they'll see of me.
annie said…
At least you see the end of it contrarily to someone with a permanent position.
I shall gaze a little more when I feel happier but being active keeps my mind off from my unvolontary exile from Damascus.
Omar said…
I'm sure that you know that I have a lot to say about this... but I will be greedy and save it to another post of mine as I have a lot to say about this very topic.. based on other recent experience... so stay tuned.

it was a great pleasure to finally meet you Abou Fares.. and I hope that there will be a lot more opportunities to share a glass of Arak in the future..

Abufares said…
You'll be back one day. I hope:-)
Abufares said…
welcome back my friend. it was my pleasure to drink that Kass of Arak with you in Damascus.
i'm glad this post stirred you to write one of your "always very well thought of posts" and i look forward reading it soon.
Anonymous said…
Abufares, post a happy comment, I´m feeling guilty
* said…
WOW! What a post! I am gobsmacked.
Abu fares: That is just awesome.
(shall write something more lucid and cohesive when I get muy wits back. I am just BLOWN AWAY!!)
Abufares said…
@ Kaya
Thank for your comment. The first reason is because it was, as always, a nice one. But most importantly it brought me out of my hibernation. Now I know I have to post something later on today before I disappear for at least another week.
Please inspire me. Tell me to write about something, how about that! If you reply to this comment today (before nightfall) you got it. I'll write about whatever you choose ;-)
Dubai Jazz said…
Salamt Abu Fares, I am sorry to report that you've been tagged by me.
* said…
Looks like that was a long night!
Abufares said…
On the next morning I left to Damascus and spent the week there.
I remained uninspired until I saw Rachelle:-)

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