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Opinion | Mar 15, 2019

The America That Is Not For Me: Part 17

The America That Is Not For Me: Part 17

I found myself in a world I thought I was familiar with, a world I thought I knew inside out, but, as it turned out, I had no clue the kind of world I was walking into.

It was a fascinating world of fairy tales nonetheless, a world that taught me a lot about professional relationships, workplace politics and socialization, patient advocacy, social inhibition, occupational stress, nepotism, audience effect, cost of managerial failure, and a host of ideas.

A bowl of fairy tales it seems, this new job I signed on as a caretaker of other human beings with intellectual and developmental challenges. It was, yes, the experience of a caretaker was not unlike a satiated teddy bear of a rubber duck that ended up consuming a bowl of fairy tales in a Trumpian fleapit with other beautiful human beings.

It all began with a vanilla interview.
A drug test followed, then a criminal background check.

An extraterrestrial human being born with a tabula rasa in my aseptic hands, I’d been an angelic ghost with one of the cleanest records on the planet, the planet of fifth columnist Benedict Arnold’s America.

Arnold wasn’t a traitor, so they say. I was.
Arnold had a clean record, so they say. I didn’t.

Apostasy, a contradiction of unimaginable proportions.

Even as one with the cleanest record on the planet of fifth columnist Benedict Arnold’s America in the open court of my body politic, I still had to prove my moral innocence beyond a reasonable doubt. That was the unspoken law in the court of public opinion, of my body politic, an Orwellian guilty conscience of a nation where black crows were born deterministically guilty until the moral forensics of DNA analysis proved otherwise.

Calvinian predestination ultimately became my return ticket to the bowl of fairy tales.

They called this unspoken law which made black crows deterministically guilty white privilege―because enforcement of the law excluded white doves as targets. Rather, the bowl of fairy tales made and institutionalized this law only for black crows.

The law allowed Barack Obama to be born in Kenya and the Philippines, both in the Deep South of America, at the same time. The law also allowed him to become an ex-officio president in George Orwell’s 1984, the White House of the bowl of fairy tales. Orwell was the incognito of George W. Bush.

The law allowed white doves to become presidents in George Orwell’s Animal Farm by faking their medical records to avoid serving the army in Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s The Gulag Archipelago.

That law wasn’t for me.
They took my fingerprints for a background check although my social DNA was a tabula rasa. I passed the moral forensics of DNA analysis with flying colors. The State of Colorado then gave me a pass for my sincerity and clean record. I took my moral forensics of DNA analysis to the human resources staff who’d given me the vanilla interview. He gave me the job, a job bearing the fancy title “residential councilor” despite the fact that my duties had absolutely nothing in common with counselling.

This new job required mental toughness, physical toughness, emotional toughness―and I’d them all, at least so it seemed to me at first. My little charges however thought otherwise of this, that occupational stress and pressure had put me in a boustrophedonic chokehold. They said I spoke and wrote English from left to right, then from right to left. They also said I’d a boustrophedonic mind, that I wasn’t poetic.

That I wasn’t poetic?
Since when? I still thought I was.
That was when I realized something awkward happening along the oblong contours of my head. I saw out of the corner of one of my eyes a charge, one of a total of seven, turn and turn a globe in his head until the upside-down topography of Australia showed up. “I walk with my head on the ground instead of with my feet in the clouds,” I heard myself say to the charge in my head, this charge who’d focused his attention exclusively on Australia. I was now the opposite of myself.

“You’re a strange being from another planet.”

“Of course from planet New York.”
“I’m fed up with America, fed on America, full of America, and now want to relocate to Europe or Africa, like Randall Robinson.”

“Here goes the Gnarls Barkley song…Crazy…I think you're crazy…I think you're crazy…Just like me.”

“But maybe I'm crazy…Maybe you're crazy.”

This new job was already turning me into a querulous charge before I settled into a routine―specific to the running of my official employment responsibilities.

I therefore became a lonesome soliloquy, a dying monologue in the nondescript topology of Australia, the occipital protuberance of my fragmented conscience in the bowl of fairy tales.

I was stunned. An American fed up with America? I had become a painful knot of confusion in the pit of my oxymoronic mind. “How about me, your hardworking immigrant caretaker who has been doing everything within his power to snatch the American Dream by any means necessary?” I asked the charge who still remained seemingly irreversibly glued to the engrossing topology of Australia.

“That nightmarish dream you have been chasing after?”

“The Nightmarish Dream.”
This charge had been looking at real estate in Africa and Europe for some time now. He planned to relocate to either continent one day when the heat became too unbearable for him in the kitchen of his lily-white America.

Lily-white America, and he was still white, what a paradoxical jolt! Perhaps by lily-white I simply mean flawless, blameless.

Why couldn’t he also foolhardily embrace the―flawless, blameless―non-pleotropic post-racial biological racism of Trump just like the teeming generality of his apocalyptic, nihilistic supporters did in their hypnagogic hallucinations?

Whether he was running from the comic character of Donald Trump which the American Dream had recently given birth to, was difficult to say with absolute certainty. Trump was all that the extreme ideological right had, and this Trump, a radical subverter and grotesque antithesis of the utilitarianism of the Alabama-based Southern Poverty Law Center, had no sense of shame. How dare he tell us to build the Castle of the American Dream in Hitler's Germany! What gives with this Trump?

The impeachable Trump White House mirrored the divisive and dangerous politics of the Trumpian fleapit. Even a high-functioning charge came to the same conclusion. This charge correctly interpreted the sour tongue of Trump as a strategic instrument of bellicose provocation whose primary purpose, it turned out, forced the crudest base instincts of white supremacists and misguided nationalists out of their privileged hibernating cells and status symbol of inferiority complex, culminating in the active reviviscence of the so-called Nixonian Southern Strategy.

Other charges believed Trump’s misogynistic American Dream, an enticing Ponzi scheme, gave birth to serial killers Ted Bundy, Anthony Sowell, Jeffrey Dahmer, Samuel Little, William Bonin, John W. Gacy, and Gary Ridgway in their dreams. “Trump is a nightmare,” a charge screamed at his co-charges. Trump turned America into a brazen, nightmarish scarecrow for all to see.

Trump, a political cannibal, sort of, epitomized the second advent of Idi Amin, apartheid, and Bill O’Reilly.

Those who ate from the hackneyed bowl of fairy tales with edacious impatience began to taste the bitter bruxism of Trump in the arthropod mouthparts of the American Dream. This wasn’t surprising.

My charge obviously saw through the thick cacophony of blissful animation that usually accompanied the American Dream―a celebrated ethos of happiness, equality and opportunity by the privileged, the politically powerful―and concluded that happiness and equality and opportunity, the sum total of the American Dream, weren’t easily attainable goals even if one worked hard and did all the right things in life. For some, the American Dream was simply a dangerously deceptive language. “The American Dream is a sort of optical illusion,” I reminded him. “The American Dream is all about eating from the bowl of fairy tales.”

“That is why I call your American Dream the Nightmarish Dream.”

I never thought cleaning up environments and getting rid of the feces and body fluids of human beings as a profession could ever have brought me face to face with the raptorial shadows of the American Dream. I performed the following tasks as part of my share of the American Dream:

I showered my charges.
I powdered them.
I combed their hair.
I cooked for them.
I clothed them.
I wiped their behinds when they defecated on themselves.

I cleaned them up when they threw up and soiled themselves in the process.

I cleaned up their rooms.
I bleached and mopped and vacuumed their house.
I applied lotion to their bodies.
I administered their medications.
I brushed their teeth.
I did their laundry.
I changed their diapers.
I drove them to school.
I supervised them during their therapeutic recreation and psychosocial adjustment activities.

And more.
This was my American Dream, doing more stressful and backbreaking work in exchange for a subsistent wage, but worst of all, not being acknowledged and respected for one's productivity and occupational input by management. Doing the same unchallenging low-paying job year in and year out got on my nerves but nothing else I did to improve my lot seemed to change my situation for the better―no matter how hard I worked, no matter how many times I went back to school to upgrade my knowledge and skills, and so forth. I had come to a standstill in life, it seemed.

Was I being pulled down by the mythical boulder of Sisyphus?

It would’ve been better or more comforting if I were a new immigrant to this strange experience of an America that closely resembled the axiomatic sociopolitical language of George Orwell’s 1984 and Animal Farm somewhat, an immigrant who did these kinds of low-paying jobs without the benefit of his American education. However, what made this particular low-paying job even more stressful wasn’t the interlocking complexity and difficulty of managing the welfare of our charges, ensuring that sanitation was of the highest quality in and around the building housing the charges, and optimizing collaboration and teamwork among staff to achieve these goals, but rather the gross unprofessionalism of staff, personality clashes, workplace politics, staff tardiness, managerial incompetence, and workplace romance. I got caught up in the mix by force of circumstances assuming their natural courses in the existential affairs of mortals. It was that bad!

A male staff I worked with dated the Assistant Manager while the Manager, a wily milf, and another low-level female employee were secretly in love with him too. The two-story house seethed with romantic rivalries and jealousies and animosities as a result of these subterranean relationships, with each lover throwing poisonous arrows of personal vendetta against the other. It wasn’t clear to me whether the male staff had dated the low-level female employee and jilted her for the Assistant Manager before I began working there. What I saw, felt and experienced firsthand in the house encompassed the low-level female employee’s open display of burning animosity against the Assistant Manager and the male staff for reasons unclear to me, and vice versa.

This threatened the safety of the charges and inter-staff relationships, undermining the conduciveness of the place.

Some of us were caught in the crossfires of this ugly active volcano of misplaced romance, of unprofessionalism, of managerial failure. “Are they here to work or date and fight over each other?” one of the high-functioning charges asked me.

“Are they going to be paid for dating and fighting over each other?”

I didn’t have the answers to all his prying questions yet we all knew this high-functioning charge had a thing about the low-level female employee.

“I guess they’re fighting for their fair share of the American Dream,” I said to laughter from the high-functioning charge and the male staff. Funny how the male staff couldn’t catch my drift―although the charge fully grasped the import of my innuendo.

The male staff was a scheming philanderer who took great pride in feeding his harem on a bromidic bowl of fairy tales. He basically understood the American Dream to be a bowl of fairy tales.

The philandering popinjay never took an interest in anything except his pay check, women, parties and hedonism, dandyism, and rodomontade. While I saved every single dollar I made for school, he spent his money profligately on women who were not willing to spend a dime on him. Not that I ever experienced sleepless nights over how he chose to spend his own money. He exercised this rational choice on his own volition. My primary concern for him was how quickly he sank deep into the manhole of dire financial straits just after we had been paid. He took to cadging money and food from me during these hard times, a precative conduct I always obliged whenever I could, nevertheless benevolent gestures I extended him for which he never showed an atom of appreciation, always claiming that he gave the gifts of food I bought him to our charges. Much to my chagrin, he never saw this conduct as the antithesis of existential correctitude.

But that is not to say I am perfect. It is rather to emphasize how important frugality, deferred gratification and sapience are to the patient fostering of self-actualization, particularly for those of us who are not privileged biological and social legatees of white privilege, even as I also cautiously concede that beggary and impecuniosity are not genetically or biologically deterministic. The crux of the matter is that one can still have fun and enjoy life in its relative fullness even within the excruciating constraints of austerity. How to go about this successfully requires an objective understanding of will to power, stoicism, self-abnegation, and self-knowledge.

A dye-in-the-wool capitalistic voyeur and wastrel the male staff indeed was on the basis of the foregoing claims, for crying out loud. He was a frivolous empty circle in that regard. I tried convincing him to consider going to school to for at least an associate degree. “What has education done for you?” he riposted with a sense of childly cheekiness. He was absolutely right, of course. Ironically, both of us earned the same wage commensurate with high school diploma, even though I was far more educated and had more experience in the field. Therefore, I brought more years of experience in leadership practice and a passable knowledge of developmental psychology to the table than he did. He never cared about these serious topics anyway. We continued our discussion in spite of differences in our philosophical outlooks. “You have been working as a security guard for the greater part of your stay in the US despite your education,” he added for effect.

The shock value of his comment wasn’t lost on me. As a security guard in New York, I recall an Indian-American scientist who came to rent a car from the company I worked for. He found me reading Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of Time. The mere sight of this book piqued his interest and the two of us began talking about a broad range of topics, including, but not limited to, science, string theory, mathematics, theoretical physics, Stephen Hawking, Isaac Newton, and Albert Einstein.

We discussed the book in some detail.
During our conversation, he encouraged me to go to school and was surprised when I informed him I’d studied Operations Research in graduate school. But he wanted to know if I did my graduate studies in Ghana or America. “America,” I told him. Then he asked me to tell him more about my experiences in America. I did. My American story got his full attention. “Why are you doing this job?” he asked when I got to my employment history. “Can’t you find a job better than security guard? You should find something better with Operations Research.”

“I can’t find a better job with my American education.”

“You can’t find a job?”
“In America?”
I made a bold attempt to change the thrust of our conversation. “I went for a job interview and the interviewer asked me if I ever took an algebra course in school.”

He seemed a bit surprised at my sudden conversational detour. “Wasn’t the interviewer aware of your engineering background?”

“Of course she was.”
“And she still asked you that strange question?”

“She was even aware of my undergraduate mathematics degree.”

As it turned out, he had a doctorate in Operations Research. But here I was again, back to my old days―a Trumpian fleapit of no social and economic progress in the Orwellian island of the American Dream―where a Trumpian fleapit of my colleagues cared more about their emotional needs than the welfare of their charges. This Trumpian fleapit of my colleagues clothed itself with the cornucopian bowl of fairy tales.

The Trumpian fleapit looked more and more like the Trump White House where incompetence, lies, political corruption, cronyism and nepotism, sensational gossip, and misplaced egos contaminated the conscience of a nation, thus breathing new life into the colonial soul of an America that enslaved the uterine seeds of Africa in days of yore. Trump, like the unprogressive fleapit, was never the uterine brother of humanity. Trump was rather an antithesis of humanism.

The Trumpian fleapit eventually become a romantic lounge where employees enjoyed their trysts and serenaded each other rather that concentrate on the major tasks at hand, that is, taking proper care of our charges and making sure that the Trumpian fleapit was safe for the charges, staff, and the neighborhood. Not that the staff didn’t care about these things. Like me, they surely did―except that they allowed their romantic infatuations, self-seeking proclivities, and misplaced sense of limerence to impair their occupational judgments and professional obligation to our charges and employer.

This also meant that those of us who were in tune with the pressing demands of our consciences to do right by our charges and felt that romantic relationships on institutional premises was a no-go area, had to take on additional responsibilities left undone either in the midst―or in the wake―of this burdensome straggle of unfortunate happenings, to make up for marked lapses in professional judgment and conduct in the troubled hearts of players involved in this bizarre game theory of romantic wars.

These shameless employees slowly lapsed into a hot rotisserie of romantic barbarism.

The male staff, a smooth-talking Trumpian Casanova incarnate, gave us the surprise of our lives when he dropped a note on the Manager’s desk for his Assistant Manager girlfriend to meet him at a designated location for sex. The erotic explicitness of the note created conditions for the potential actualization of vicarious concupiscence in vulnerable or loose readers. This Kama Sutra note became an open book for every inquisitive eye that walked through the Trumpian fleapit as an employee that day, a Trumpian fleapit where eros and lovesickness and love hormones ravaged the soft, buttered loins and brains and blood veins of paedomorphic lovebirds who simply didn’t know what to do to rein in their strong romantic urgings.

These lovebirds who couldn’t prevent the floodgates of their oxytocin love hormone from exploding into the hankering crater of their restive waists, exercised an operational mindset typical of a strip club hidden in the basement of an abandoned church, mosque, temple, or synagogue.

The Trumpian fleapit, therefore, became a designated location where the romantic comedies for these adult actors and actresses were shot for open viewership.

While they were busy on location for various roles in their self-directed romantic comedies, they left me alone on that strangest of galaxies, that anonymous extragalactic nebula world-famous quisling Benedict Arnold called the American Dream, with my colorful world of feces and soiled diapers and dirty clothes and vomitus, of unwashed cooking bowls and cutlery and stove, of unkempt playground and bedrooms and kitchen and living room and bathrooms and closets and pantry―a chaotic world of Nagasaki and Hiroshima left behind by a mindless nebula of romantic terrorists for a professional, industrious and dedicated waste collector like me to clean up.

In effect, I was burdened with the soilure of their comminuted consciences to deal with on their terms.

The male staff put himself above a waste collector or a night soil carrier and therefore occasionally refused to touch diapers and clothes soiled with urine and feces and vomitus―a way to demonstrate to his desperate girlfriend that his low-level employee status was superior to the Assistant Manager’s office.

The low-level female staff, like the male staff, also sometimes avoided the touch of feces and soiled clothes and vomitus on her faceless senses hoping to court the affection of her imagined dovish lover.

How these romantic jihadists made me hate the sound of lovers rock!

In those moments of mindless chaos, I was left alone with myself in the company of my longsuffering other―my grudging otherism―in the exclusive immanence of my soul, of my body, of my spirit, of my outright rejection by the wicked absence of Benedict Arnold’s American Dream, an elusive propaganda of Trumpian proportions.

Arnold’s American Dream had literally metamorphosed into Walter Rodney’s How Europe Underdeveloped Africa, ideally a concomitant of my material and spiritual and emotional underdevelopment.

I was thus a schmaltzy negation of the supposed largesse of the American Dream, a vast emptiness in the material fullness of America. I found myself again and again at the center of an enervating existential crisis. I could no longer tolerate the shopsoiled bowl of fairy tales on the basis of my violent anaphylactic reaction to political and sociological lies, now that I know only the shifty character of the Trumpian American Dream truly existed in the fantasies of utopian pallbearers, daydreamers, and moirologists who subsisted on alternative facts and fake news.

No conscious meliorist bought into these crazy Trumpian fantasies.

Meritocracy had certainly gone to the dogs. It’s true what they say about romance, that it conquers it all!

Francis Kwarteng
Francis Kwarteng, © 2019

This author has authored 560 publications on Modern Ghana.
Author column: franciskwarteng

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