in like 5 hours. It's gonna hurt...
Tuesday I hightailed it off to Livermore after work to see an old friend of mine and see how he was doing. He's been having a bad time lately due to being screwed over at his last job, and they laid him off during the latest Bush Recession, which is a b!tch. I know so many people that are hurting these days because the economic crash (not downturn, fucking goddam crash) has turned so many good people out of jobs. Sure, there were excesses in the dot-com economic boom, but these are good people that were just trying to make a living. None of the poeple I know went out and bought Mercedes or Learjets, they were just trying to hang on in a world that had seemingly gone mad.
Anyway, I digress. My friend is a great guy, and I've known him for 16 years now. He's working at a job that doesn't pay enough to cover the bills, and last time that happened he had to move out of state with his parents. Having had that happen myself, I know he wants to have a place, and a life of his own, and try to hang on to living in the Bay Area even though you have to work your ass off just to live in this place.
I had been worried about him for awhile, ever since he got screwed over at his old job back in September. He's having to move, and has been bummed out ever since the job situation tanked big-time. I know the feeling, I got screwed over and laid off from my job last May and now have to leave the place I've called my Hawk-Cave for the last five and a half years.
But I know it's rough on him, even though I know he doesn't like to talk about it.
Anyway, I ran off to Livermore tonight to go see him and see how things were going, and to have dinner with him and his girlfriend. She's quite a sharp gal, and the most promising of any of the women he's gone out with. I know they have their differences, but she's quick-witted and can grok the whole tech world, and I don't know if he realizes how rare that is to find somoene like that. I can only dream of someone like that, but as a superhero I have to stay lonely, single, and brooding. But I'll whine about that more later.
We had a great dinner in downtown Livermore at a local alehouse, and got to talk about life, how it was treating us, and what they planned to do next from here on out. I know he's upset about losing his place, and I'm going through the same thing. But the flipside is that he gets to move in with his g/f, and I think it's for the best. They make a great couple, and for the first time I can say that he looks truly happy when he's with her.
We had to talk LOUD because the place was so packed and noisy; Suddenly Tom, Jerry, and even Perry showed up in a surprising move, and we suddenly had all the LOOPED founders there! I was agog with the concept of seeing all these poeple on a weeknight in downtown Livermore, I usually only get to see them when I run off to RenFaire.
We hung out in the restaurant and eventually ended up on the back patio, and ended up talking about the old times, which probably bores the crap out of younger kids. Mostly about the 80's, the BBS and POPnet worlds that we lived in at the time, the ancient technoologies (300 baud acoustic modems) that we used to call BBS's and so forth, and some of the old-timers that we knew back from these days. I always think of the Boston song, "More than a Feeling", when I think about all the people from those days that I knew...
So many people have come and gone
Their faces fade as the years go by
But I still recall, as I walk along
Clear as the sun in the summer sky
So we get talking about POPnet, the Party Line, D-Hoppers, the stuff we did back then that (thank God) the statute of limitations has run out on, and suddenly who shows up but Aaron!
I didn't even recognize the guy because it's been 15 years, but here he is, Cappan Varra from the old BBS days. He's married now and has two kids, which totally blows me away since he was the young'un of the bunch, but now is older, with short hair and a goatee. If I had passed him walking down the street I would have never, ever guessed that it was him.
We close the bar out and go home, and I have to get to work anyway. After taking my friend and his girlfriend back to their place, I talk to them a bit about life and trying to survive in the post-crash Bay Area... it's not easy for any of us, but I think we find ways to hang on. All I could do is offer some words of encouragement and a little help to make things better. We said our goodnights and I headed back over the Sunol grade home, trying to make myself feel better in spite of my meager efforts that evening.
God, I wish I was able to do more and have some sort of mega-power, or at least be independently wealthy. So many of my friends have lives where they have to work their asses off just to survive, and there's little rest or solace in the situations they're in. I clench my fists on the steering wheel all the way back and try to keep my cool driving as I lament the collapse of anything resembling a decent living for my friends. I wish I could put on my cape and tights and save the world and make it all better for them-- but there's not a whole lot I can do.
What little I can do, I will do, but I wish I could do more. I wish I could put on my superhero costume and run around trying to make things right, but that wouldn't pay the rent.
I know that eventually things will get better in the technology industry, but how many people will have to drop out of it and leave the state before that happens? So many people I know now are unemployed for years, not months.. how much longer before the bottom drops out?