The Boy Who Has Everything

I am taking a leisurely drive down Highway 1 from San Francisco back to Santa Cruz after dropping off a friend at the airport. (For my friends in Tennessee: Highway 1 in California is simply the most beautiful coastal road in the world. In central California, where I live, the shoreline on which it runs is mostly undeveloped except for a few artichoke farms and some dairies.) It’s a sunlit but windy day. I stop at Waddell Creek to watch about fifty kite surfers. Behind me is a small swamp and beyond it are the redwood-lined slopes of Big Basin.

In the parking lot, a hitch-hiker waves at me. Now, I have a complicated relationship with hitch-hiking. On the one hand, that’s the only way I had to get to school my first two years in this country. On the same hand, I crossed this country hitch-hiking twice both ways when I was in my twenties. Yes, that’s about 12,000 miles total. Of course, I didn’t not know this the first time I started. In addition, I hitched from San Francisco to St Louis, Missouri in the middle of the winter to be with a girl. My journey gave her a lot of face. She showed her appreciation accordingly. On the other hand, I have no doubt that today, a good percentage of hitch-hikers are dangerous by reason of insanity. Moreover, for me, living in Santa Cruz, there is an existential dilemma in picking up many hitch-hikers: Do I want to help reach their destination transient people I consider undesirable flotsam once they have reached that destination, down the street from my house?

But, this hitch-hiker is different, I can tell. He is trim, muscular and handsome. It turns out also that the quick part of my mind has noticed that he is wearing a “hiking hat” that must have cost $40 in the L.L.Bean’s catalogue. There is another guy next to him similarly well-outfitted. Both are in their late twenties. I stop my pick-up truck (my pick-up truck, an important detail, culturally). The first guy explains that he and his buddy just finished their two-day hike through Big Basin State Park and that they need to call their ride but that there is no phone reception where they are standing.

I say, OK but I will only take one of you. The first guy hops in and asks: Why only one?

It’s because, if you turn out to be bandits, I am certain I can shoot one of you in the head; I am not so sure about two.

I tell the guy that I am not going to abandon him on the road wherever he gets phone reception but that I will drive him to the next hamlet, Davenport, where there is a grocery store and a coffee shop. There, he will be able to wait for his girl-ride in near-comfort. There is one condition to my giving you a lift anywhere, I say: You have to tell the next five people you talk to that you got a ride from a conservative Republican.

The guy agrees but he is astounded? How did you know I would mind doing it, he asks.

Easy; you smell of the Upper Left Silicon Valley. You are wearing at least $500 of hiking clothing and you have all the right opinions about everything. I wouldn’t even be surprised if you were a vegetarian, perhaps a vegan.

As I can’t stop bragging about, I have a really good sociological nose. It turns out the hiker in pricey hiking clothes is a corporate lawyer in Palo Alto and a graduate of Stanford Law School. I delight in telling him that I have a more advanced degree from the same university but that I don’t attend his church because the sermons there are too predictable, too boring.

In the meantime, he is fidgeting with his hand-held device that does everything but cooks eggs. He begins talking jovially with what sounds like a woman. He tells her that he and his buddy completed the hike without trouble, that it rained only briefly during the night, etc. I interrupt him quickly. How about your promise, I ask? He stops his prattle and seriously advises his interlocutor (tress?) that he got a ride from a Republican. There is silence on the other end, then my passenger is talking again. He instructs the woman to pick him up in Davenport in about an hour. Then, we arrive in Davenport.

The lawyer wants to buy me coffee, of course. Then, he realizes he left his wallet in his backpack with his buddy, at Waddell Creek where I picked him up. I give him two dollars for a cup of coffee while he waits for his lady friend to come and give him a ride. Then I add another dollar fifty explaining how I know that his kind of people can easily tear up if they have to drink regular coffee rather than a cappuccino or some other effeminate Italianate drink.

He lingers in my truck long enough to tell me how he is completely satisfied with Pres. Obama’s performance. I don’t expect him to complain about the 2700-page health care reform bill, of course, nor about the explosion of crony capitalism under the Obama administration. But he might have said something about the President not closing Guantanamo Bay prison, as formally promised during his campaign, or about his leaving the Patriot Act standing. After all, the hitch-hiker is an attorney. Nothing. Nothing at all.

Then, suddenly, it all makes sense. The Palo Alto corporate attorney graduate from Stanford Law School is the boy who has everything. He has the hiking clothes and the hiking. The young woman who is going to pick him up after his hike will be a stately blonde in a convertible. He has the perfect life. Why would he mar his perfect picture of elegance, success and achievement by having voted for a less than perfect president? There is a logic there.

About jacquesdelacroix

I am a sociologist, a short-story writer, and a blogger (Facts Matter and Notes On Liberty) in Santa Cruz, California.
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22 Responses to The Boy Who Has Everything

  1. Gary says:

    Well I must say Jacques — that is some articulate prose even tho’ you are more like this particular hitchhiker than you would ever admit.
    How you ask?
    Having a perfect life in this day and age is not something that happens as it used to in accordance with being accountable to the absolutes around which the whole of the earth and sky turn. FACT is in our day we can live almost totally outside of any accounting at all. We have been taught well by those who have made a farce out of accounting and in fact have turned our whole economy into a ruse built on both monetary and moral debt each of which is gaugeable by the other.
    The logic about which you speak (cheek in tongue) is very much the logic issued from the current vogue where truth (absolute truth, not dialectics) is 100% on its head. FACT is it will stay completely upside down as long as the jacks to both debt ceilings, moral and economic, are kept well lubricated and yes we have as commander in thief and lead lubricator the man most suited for the task as he is a mirror of the collective that do not deserve a leader who will bring the truth. FACT is anyone who does bring anything as repulsive as the absolute FACTS to the table they will likely kill. Some like Dr Ron Paul. So all is well. We will be fine as long as we keep both feet planted firmly in mid air.
    For those outside of the collective who know for a FACT that what goes up must come down – they are busy guessing when the jacks will be overloaded, and where there is relative safety.
    What you and I and the hitch hiker enjoy is an opulence heretofore never
    seen, a life that if set in the 1800s would’ve rivaled that of royalty – all laid on the backs of our children’s children, which is a bit apropos and shows that the accounting that we sidestep today (abortions) will not magically disappear, we simply pass it on. (If the lubricant and lubricators keep working)

    GaryK

  2. Gary says:

    Oh … and I almost forgot to add that the reason that (most)sermons are boring and predictable is that the truth itself is predictable when we have both feet planted firmly in mid air. FACT is truth ITSELF is now repulsively boring because individual opinion has replaced FACTS thus making accountability itself a meaningless word. Everyones truth is in FACT as good as anyone’s to the point where the balance of tolerance to intolerance has swung so far to tolerance that moral nihilism is the result via sermons that have for the most part become politically correct rather than morally true.

    GK

    • jacquesdelacroix says:

      I have no trouble admitting that I am like the hitch-hiker. Unlike him, I don’t need to make the picture perfect by pretending that what isn’t is. It may seem like a small thing but it matters. I think. It’s important to keep saying that Barack Obama is a bad president. I don’t take anything for granted, including the wisdom of those who have to work and pay mortgage.

      Of course, I agree that we live opulently by any standard. I am old enough to remember normal poverty. It’s in my memoirs, “I Used to Be French…,” a piece of pop-sociology I highly recommend.

    • Gary says:

      Jacques you said

      “I am old enough to remember normal poverty.”

      .. born in the forties I remember a simpler time when we were all a lot richer because we had more of each other and less of this damned stuff. Small homes where mom’s stayed, small churches filled with people instead of large houses echoing the grief of broken dreams. Now mega cathedrals drive the belief that opinion is truth all with their own version of divorce recovery. I miss what we had, it was a norm that we will never see again.

      As far as Obama goes, the political polarization is certainly very important, but mostly for a distraction making it possible for the benefactors of fiat money and the inflation tax to do as they wilt while the rest of us prepare to kill each other.

      Gary

  3. Gary says:

    Jacques you said

    “I am old enough to remember normal poverty.”

    .. born in the forties I remember a simpler time when we were all a lot richer because we had more of each other and less of this damned stuff. Small homes where mom’s stayed, small churches filled with people instead of large houses echoing the grief of broken dreams. Now mega cathedrals drive the belief that opinion is truth all with their own version of divorce recovery. I miss what we had, it was a norm that we will never see again.

    Gary

  4. Sanjiv says:

    Nice story Jacques! How are you my long-lost friend? I am going to try hitch-hiking in your neck of the woods just so that it will be nice to catch up with you again. –sanjiv

    • jacquesdelacroix says:

      Thanks, Sanjiv. I don’t know if you are my long-lost friend. I would need more info. You could be my new friend anyway,

  5. Peter Miller says:

    Psychologically acute portrait, Jacques. I’d like to see a sequel where the lawyer’s law firm goes bankrupt due to the imploding economy brought about by Obama’s policies, the trillion-dollar stimulus that went nowhere, etc. Where, in other words, is the tipping point? When do people like that realize the scam that’s been pulled on them?

    • jacquesdelacroix says:

      I think people like that never realize their mistake. This story answers partially a question I have been asking myself forever: Why do intelligent, well-educated people espouse obviously stupid beliefs. I may have more coming on this question.
      MY hitch-hiker does not work for a law firm but for a Silicon Valley tech firm that may well survive intact the Obama econo-disaster. Thus, he may never have to face anything personally. To the extent that he perceives the disaster, he will say, without further analysis, that Obama inherited from Bush an impossible situation.

      • Gary says:

        {MY hitch-hiker does not work for a law firm but for a Silicon Valley tech firm that may well survive intact the Obama econo-disaster. Thus, he may never have to face anything personally. To the extent that he perceives the disaster, he will say, without further analysis, that Obama inherited from Bush an impossible situation.}

        I would say that since normal “poverty” days each president and his in tow proteges could say that, with it becoming more true with each successive president. The impossible situation being that government was become itself successively more immoral due to the enactment of entitlement legislations that kill the drive to be autonomous thus teaching a new correctness that has over the years has undermined our will to seek leaders that lead by moral example but instead lead us into the abyss that we find ourselves in now.

        I think it is time we quit thinking via this party or that and wake up to the fact that we should simply escape the polarization and vote for the best constitutionally moral leader because it is the repulsiveness of absolutes that create the impossibilities.

        GaryK

  6. Ryan Mc says:

    Gary-

    “…it is the repulsiveness of absolutes that create the impossibilities.” Assuming the “impossibilities” refer back to “the impossible situation” of our government and president becoming immoral, I believe I am to understand that an aversion to “absolutes has caused this situation? What are we talking about here? What permanent things have driven not only government to become amoral but also the people to vote for those who “lead us into the abyss that we find ourselves in now”?

    As to voting for the “best constitutionally moral leader”, sure, that sounds nice, but by whose judgement? Unfortunately, you and the guy next to you at the polling booth will have much different perceptions of this type of person. But, this is what our system does, as I am sure you know. We all get a say in the hopes that the person in charge is the most representational image of the best leader, though this may not be due to morals, and it may not be to your definition of that image. And the very same system offers a rotation, so that if we start to like another person more, we can change it up. (Not so absolute.)

    I am seeking some clarity, though it is possible your rhetoric has just left me confused.

  7. Gary says:

    In answer to the question in the first paragraph please allow me to point out there that there is no atheist philosopher who would disagree that when we stop believing in God that we do not then believe in nothing.. the truth is we will then believe in ANYTHING.

    The reason? When we have a system of government that has melded entitlements to immorality through artificial currency you can enlist people to disregard the intrinsic link of accounting (the economic) to accountability (morality). The longer we live fear free, that is, the longer we live in an artificial fiat fantasy, the easier it becomes to remove people from wisdom -especially spiritual wisdom. The farther removed we are the more debt it is possible to accumulate. The heavier the weight of such debt the more it will devastate when is crashes down.

    The Bible says fear is the beginning of wisdom. I believe the things that become permanent for men is the amorality that can be installed collectively when folks enlist in their government and its entitlements as “correctness”(political) vs knowing that their is only one truth that cannot be moved (morality) by men – that its solidity is what is the very core of both accounting and accountability.

    We can vote for empty suits that will raise the debt ceiling or we can vet moral people who know that sooner or later (it already is later) the debt has to be paid. Which, gets quickly into “do we vote for what is the most comfortable, or do we vote for what we need?” Which get quickly into “love is what I do in spite of how I FEEL”.

    How does selfless truth which is at the core of any worthwhile law (our constitution)stack up against the non-accountable “political correctness” and the ever moving belief that your “truth” is as good as anyone else’s? The very reason I vet the leaders I vote for via how well they live in accordance with morality (R Paul) is because I have a Christian world view. My belief in God is in essence my belief in accounting and accountability only being possible when there is a set of selfless laws in place that are rock solid and do not move, not for you, nor for those who legislate and definitely not for me. The moral legacy that people leave reveals just how accountable they are and as well reveals if they believe only in the grace provided BY the constitution or if they are bound by the belief that has shown up as a legacy in their lives. Of course the vogue would that anything that binds is anti freedom. (that is why we have both feet planted firmly in mid air)(that is why there is no economic accounting)(that is why I love that Ron Paul is a Von Mises protege where the intrinsic link of accounting to accountability is central to economic structure)

    Why is it that we would always rather point to our constitution and its selfless laws as a freedom *of* conscience >alone< forgetting that when we view truth as relative or dialectic we are allowing freedom ITSELF to disappear largely because it then becomes freedom **FROM** a conscience?? Is this not proof that freedom, like love, is more a result than it is an entitlement? The result of where we are and where we are headed is proof, and it is in fact also true that many will not understand this until the result (the crushing debt of economic and moral ceilings) is making them bleed. For most it will only be then that truth as an absolute – as God – will be called upon. (fear is the beginning of wisdom) Seems to me it is time to pull our heads out of the sands of bliss and learn from the wisdom of our founding fathers and the moral truths that were the very impetus for our constitution in the first place.

    I believe that there are people counting on the demise of this once free land and entitlements and debt money are themselves the bait. We can see it in the reactions of our economy to those who are trying to crush it. Please. Understand that we are all in some degree invested in this artificial fantasy and that a reinvestment in reality is the only thing that will save us from a certain loss of anything in this nation that is now or ever was worth fighting for.

    Gary Kimes

  8. David says:

    I know this is too much to ask, but I must ask it, if only so I won’t be the only one indulging in insanity. When will Obama admit that his problems aren’t the result of “the previous administration?” It is a childish attitude for a full grown adult to have, much less the President. (Though somewhat fitting (and descriptive) for the “boy-man,” as some have called him.)

    • jacquesdelacroix says:

      I have no idea, of course. My best guess is he will leave office with a pure heart because his intentions are pure.

  9. Alison says:

    You should have left him on the side of the road with his buddy. Perhaps then they would have been forced back onto the hiking trail and possibly eaten by that bear who ate that other guy a few weeks ago.

    • jacquesdelacroix says:

      A bear ate a liberal lawyer a few weeks ago? Why doesn’t any one share good news with me as they occur?

      I disagree with you Alison. I had that guy prisoner in my pick-up truck for more than ten minutes. I forced him to tell his girlfriend who he was riding with. I gave him cappuccino money. How much sweeter can it get?

  10. Pingback: The Boy Who Has Everything « Notes On Liberty

  11. condottiero says:

    Highway 1 in California and the Borgoño Road near Viña del Mar in Chile are indeed the two most beautiful coastlines I have ever seen!

    • jacquesdelacroix says:

      THanks. Borgono Raod is next on my list. How the hell do you fom the tilde in this medium?

      • condottiero says:

        😉 You do it only by changing the keyboard specs to Spanish if using a Mac. Though, if you have an English keyboard in a Windows Operative System you only need to press “ALT + 164” for the letter “ñ” to appear or “ALT + 165” for the “Ñ”.

        Best regards,

      • jacquesdelacroix says:

        Does not work for me. I must be using an antique. Thanks all the same.

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