My friend’s joined a pyramid scheme.
Or something of the sort.
Someone sold her money. And she bought it. Of course, there was no actual money. Just the promise of it, and of a ‘shockingly successful business’. I learned of all this, because she’s been systematically approaching her friends and asking them to join her shockingly un-successful business.
‘It’s not a pyramid scheme’, she told me. ‘It’s Multi-Level Marketing.’
I had honestly never expected anyone would fall for this trap these days. Never underestimate people. Or overestimate. Anyone can do anything. Bob Dylan was a born again Christian.
We generally hear from day to day how people accept their terrible circumstances because they have the potential for ‘the good life’, of lazing about on your private-owned island (The man who created It Works, the (oh-god-its-so-obvious) name of the pyramid scheme in question, has indeed: bought an island). I had, perhaps naïvely, believed we lived in some post-modern culture where business was seen with some nihilistic apathy, rather than excited dreams. Perhaps the dreams are, now, better hidden. That big machine is just a-pickin’ up speed.
Money has been on my mind. It’s on all our minds. But, this journey of mine, has involved me witnessing countless means of survival. I’ve ran into freelancers getting by with odd jobs, while spending next to nothing. Then, just today I had a long conversation with a college graduate who’d just gotten himself involved in stock broking. He sent me a long list of research papers on the subject. Reading through some of it, I’m quickly forming the opinion that basic amounts of this should be thought in secondary schools. But then, since it, for one who hasn’t researched before investing, is basically gambling, perhaps it’s best that the majority of people don’t know how to involve themselves with this.
I’ve been looking out as much as possible on these various lifestyles. The truth is, I left a lot of sad people behind in London.
They worked, like me, 50 hours a week minimum, usually with another 10 hours a week spent in transport to work. We all earned minimum wage, 7.20 per hour, and earned no overtime bonus. Yes, this included my Italian Boss. She was never formally employed as a manager. She was just given more responsibilities, without the raise in pay. These people were my friends, and their lifestyle, in London, not unusual.
Curiously, the property’s owner was, himself, a good-willed man. Egyptian, he was born into absolutely nothing. His life was an almost guaranteed endless struggle, however, the country turned towards heavy socialism. Say what you will about political theory, but for this man, he suddenly had access to education, and by extension, opportunity. He travelled, and in London, he met who would become his wife – an Irish woman from Co. Clare.
They were an odd couple. I know myself how unusual it is for an Irish woman to marry an Arab. Or, even, anyone not Irish. Especially in the time they married. His presence in London, I suspect, was similarly atypical. He came across as having lived a roguish youth. Not to mention, he frequently showed disgust towards the extreme rich of London, and sorrowed over the extreme poverty he saw whenever he visited again his home country. Yet, he was running a business that was illegally abusing its workers by not paying overtime.
I liked this man. I still do. I think he recognises how valuable a stable income and consistent hours is to some people, and therefore he doesn’t have to go all the way and pay overtime. His wife, I suspect, has been a big influence on this. She was one of the friendliest women I’ve met. She left everyone she would meet with a smile, but, she would frown and complain everytime a conversation turned in the direction towards, say, poverty. In Egypt, he would complain to her of the poverty. And she would reply, ‘I just want to enjoy my holiday’.
‘I just want to enjoy my holiday’. This, I decided, was why there was no overtime.
I may seem… Privileged? By complaining about this… No overtime, so okay, so what? 7.20 an hour, 50 hours a week? More than enough to get by, so long as you spend a little wisely. The transport? So what. That’s natural, it’s transport. The work itself was just fine. The work environment, comfortable. All was kind of… Well.
The problem was… These people, my friends, were staying in this work. I used it for a few months and moved on. The others had been there for not months, but years. By choice, seemingly, but I think they did not know how to approach… Anything different. Or anything different was, perhaps, intimidating – risky. Considerable misery can come from changing your job. Especially when all is, ‘kind of well’.
I should mention… London, is competitive. Figure it out yourself, fucker, seemed to be the mentality behind many things. You don’t get it? Tough. If you sold your soul, you could make a hell of a lot of money in London. Especially with the social ‘I sell you things’ jobs. But, sell your soul first.
But, my journey… What I mean to say is, I’ve been looking for an answer, an extremely direct answer, for my friends, and, my Italian Boss. Some city to live in. Some job environment to join. Simplicity, I know they want. Live with some decent job and, still have time to yourself. The dream, I suppose?
Each city I pass gives me a new answer. In Lille, I found, well… Ebay! And sales of the sort. In Amiens? Living off the dole… (won’t be recommending this one). Paris? Stock-broking.
Not good so far…
But, the answer is lying somewhere. Figure it out, figure it out, figure it out. Immediately I’ve noticed how much cheaper the rent is in most of France. In London, I was in a single room in a house with 6 others. Two of whom, were, I would swear, clinically insane. I paid 450 pounds per month. In Amiens? I met someone living in a stunningly beautiful studio apartment, for 500 euro per month.
Isabel. No worries.
I will solve life. For thee, my love. For thee.