There was a time, not long ago, when men could take pride in the work at hand, and when finished, could stand back and look with satisfaction at what the sweat of their brow and the blood of their knuckles had created. Society has moved on, and now men are trapped on the hamster wheel of corporate culture, spinning endlessly at a dead-end job in a service-based economy, with nothing to show for their efforts at the end of a 60-hour week except for carpal tunnel and another donation to a shrinking 401k.
Disconnection. That is the feeling that pervades the soul of modern man. Disconnection from the world around him, as he autopilots his fly-by-wire life from home to work and back. Disconnection from his friends and family, as communication is reduced to FaceBook updates and lol’s over IM. Disconnection from the tools that separate man from beast. We have evolved from the hammer and the wheel to the keyboard and the glowing blue screen of death, and in the process have evolved past our humanity and into a higher, colder, form; of bits and bytes, of TPS reports and SLA agreements, where accountability is a slippery thing and satisfaction is taken in doing a job “good enough.”
In this icy foundry of desolation and disenfranchisement is forged the bitter realization that a man’s time is as transient and fleeting as the disposable China-sourced goods that pollute the shelves of the local Wal*Mart. The realization that a man can look in the mirror and see not his face, but the lines and ledgers of the books of his life, sold one minute at a time. When a man reaches that point he can either abandon all hope, or rise against and declare war on the very moors of society. He can buy a new slushbox ‘Vette for him and a new pneumatic chest for his girlfriend. Maybe get a tattoo and a chromed-out Harley. Or move to Berkeley and wear hemp over tie dye and Doc Martens, hang with laconic Britpop junkies, and snort lines of Ritalin off the thighs of underage hookers.
But some aren’t into hemp. Some don’t like Harleys, and can’t afford the ‘Vette or the girlfriend. Some simply can’t bear the stink of insincerity that wafts from a poseur’s pores. For these, their wars are fought by the skin of their teeth and the mettle of their will. Their wars are fought wheel to wheel, corner by corner. These men who walk among the living dead, their hearts still beating in time with the 1-3-7-2-6-5-4-8 firing order of a Ford 5.0, can still stand tall, and all they see in the mirror are the eyes of a warrior staring back.
While others will identify themselves by their profession, introducing themselves at parties as Bob the Programmer, Jim the Dentist, or John the Accountant, a few can simply smile and shake hands. “Hi,” they’ll say. “My name is unimportant. But I’m the race car driver. I drive the race car.”
Don’t take that from us. It’s all we have left.