Sunday, March 27, 2016


We moved offices a week or so back. The whole moving crew was young African-American guys, with the exception of one Hispanic fellow.

When it came time to order them lunch, I took on the arduous chore (I jest, lest you linger in doubt) of getting their orders. We were going to order from Jimmy John's, but a number of them weren't familiar with that establishment, and were a little uncomfortable ordering from a place where they didn't know the menu. One of them was uncomfortable ordering roast beef that was pink, he liked it brown. Several of them asked for extra mayo, one of them wanted extra oil and vinegar. I tend to view sandwiches from chains as commodities (though I do know what I like from Subway, etc.), but I had the impression that this was a pretty novel experience for some of these guys and they didn't want to squander it and/or get something they really wouldn't like.

Later, one of them had apparently been talking to our Chief Investment Officer about what we did, and was asking for financial advice. The CIO said talk to me about how much money one needed to work with us, and I sheepishly named a figure well below what is considered the minimum for having a profitable client relationship, while saying I'd be happy to just talk to him. Unfortunately I didn't have a card on me, and didn't connect with the guy later. I would have liked to have been able to just tell him the basics (save, don't try to get rich quick by beating market, use revolving credit cards warily).

These guys were working their butts off, carrying heavy boxes and furniture up stairs. When they realized how late their day was likely to go (ended up being till about 9pm), they groaned a little. They marvelled at the machine the guys from the copier company had, which slowly moved the delicate copier up the stairs.

I'm making an effort to chronicle all this because, in fact, at this point in time in my life I have so little contact with younger Black people. For the most part, I interact with African-Americans primarily on Facebook, where I'm connected with lots of people from my high school. This is considerably better than nothing. Especially since being fast-tracked academically as a youth put me in what was essentially a segregated school environment.

At times I can only agonize that the nature of my profession is so intensely focused on helping middle-class and richer people defend their class status. I see younger Black so rarely.  There is one kid from a rehab that has been turning up at the Sunday morning AA meeting I have been going to regularly who comes from an entirely different place than me, but who speaks so beautifully, who seems to be really getting it. I need to make my way across the room to him next time I am there and introduce myself, before he is hustled into the waiting van and taken back to rehab. I don't know why they do that.

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