Thursday, February 05, 2009

Indigestion

I ate for them...

So last week I found myself of an evening in a Vancouver hotel ballroom breaking bread amongst a swarm of financial types. The occasion was an annual dinner put on by an august association that bestows a TLA on those hopeful youngsters who've crunched numbers, sweated blood, and scribbled under time pressure to the requisite standard. I am not among the blessed ones, but I was invited to attend anyway. Not sure why, but there you go.

Now apparently every year over dessert and coffee a panel of financial experts what knows about how this money thang all works gives its predictions for the year ahead. But before that, last year's predictions are reviewed. The whole production is supposed to be wrapped in humour, presumably to demonstrate that, hey, bean counters can be wacky, off-kilter types. This year the humour was distinctly of the gallows variety. Hoots of laughter applauded the TLA in the audience who won a chunk of lucite for "Best Stock Pick:" XYZ Industries, down 43 percent year-on-year. Yes, I said down. Hoots of laughter.

Yet something sat not quite right about all of this. It was probably around coffee that it struck me; despite the frightful whipsawing of the markets, the credit crunch, and bleeding investment portfolios, all of us folks in that ballroom had jobs and were relatively alright, Jack, if a tad nervous. We dined on seared tuna (a bit peppery that crust, but still nice) and steak (obviously nuked prior to a finishing grill, but quite a tasty bit of flesh), quaffed red, red wine (only one glass for me as I'm driving, but the fellow over there seems to have passed out in his chair), and laughed at it all rather than shed crocodile tears. Elsewhere, a record 4.78 million Americans are receiving unemployment benefits, and are struggling to make ends meet. Some are sinking deep into despair, and taking their loved ones with them. Home foreclosures are gutting communities. Canada, largely spared to date, is starting to feel the hot breeze of the firestorm to the south. People will be hurt here as well.

And that's what it's all about: real, live people. Not numbers, not graphs, but people.

As I left, I felt angry. And part of that anger was directed at myself; I ate at that table, I'm alright, Jack. So I asked myself: whatcha gonna do about it?

Well FiL? I'm waiting...

The Neurotics - This Fragile Life (buy here or e-here)
Public Image Limited - This Is Not A Love Song (buy here)
Wild Billy Childish and the Musicians of the British Empire - Thatcher's Children (buy here or e-here)

6 comments:

mjrc said...

what can you do? stay conscious of the plight of others, contribute to needy causes, check in on your friends and loved ones and offer support, vote for the "right" candidates, in short probably everything you already do as a matter of course.

i think there's a bit of survivor guilt that goes on when you realize that yeah, you're alright, jack, but that your neighbor might not be--but as you say, what are you going to do?

actually, i heard an interesting story not too long ago about a woman who grew up during the depression. her father was a doctor and so they were fairly well off, but they still had to cut back because he would care for folks even if all they could do to pay him was to reupholster a chair or give him some eggs. i guess my point is that he treated everyone just like he would have normally, regardless of their ability to pay, and in the end the respect and dignity he showed for people was extremely valuable, both for them and for him and his family. and maybe that's all you can do, depending on your situation.

sorry to write such a book!

Elizabeth said...

Sigh.

Well, you can write me a reference, for a start. My date is next Wednesday, and it's not looking good at all.

Be a bright button, FiL. Remember Tony Wilson and his cycles. What goes down must come up, in that uncanny Greek prediction way. x

a Tart said...

Dearest FiL... you are (amongst other friends here) a bright spot in such a dull witted gang of folk who think that they can hide out from it all and pretend that music and fluff and saying all the right things will protect us from the ugliness of the real world. Thank you for knowing better, for saying so, and for standing beside us who do the same. Music has never been divorced from the tragic realities of our times, let's not pretend otherwise, xoxoxo

JC said...

Don't be so hard on yourself amigo.

I've been lucky enough to meet you and I know that you're way too modest to report that you could have chosen a real "I'm all tight Jack" career path, but your conscience sent you to an alternative place where your brains, talents and humour help out more than you probably imagine.

Anonymous said...

on a more serious note, global warming has melted my snowman.

ps. Lux Interior RIP

Rachel said...

No reason to be angry at yourself dearest FiL, I hardly think you would spend $1,000 on trash can for your office. I think we have all been guilty of spending outside our means some more then others. I think like the others have stated we need to support one another, inspire and encourage our friends, family, fellow readers and bloggers. You do that everyday with just being you and doing what you do. :-)