Jessica meandered through the mall, looking for nothing in particular. Everywhere sale signs beat down on her as she realized that ‘sale’ means nothing when you are broke. No matter how much off, if you have no money, it is still prohibitively expensive. About this point Jessica realized how dumb it was to come to the mall when she had no money. This was a place where everything had a cost, and without money even walking was not fun.
Jessica walked into a small deli and grocery. The smells of food that was not ramen tempted her taste buds. She paced up and down the aisles as the signs that said “Sale!”, “Buy 2 get one Free!”, “40% off!” seemed to push her down. She was hearing them in her own head. “Sell!” “Discount!” “Value!” It all made Jessica feel ill.
The deli connected to a hospital wing, where Jessica went to the desk and told them she was not feeling well. The lady at the desk asked for and ID and insurance card. When Jessica provided these, the lady did not even look at them before proclaiming that this hospital was too good for that insurance, and told Jessica that if she could not pay for care herself she would be escorted off the grounds, ill or not. Jessica turned to the door and decided to go to a park to clear her head. When she got outside, Jessica found the park very relaxing. At least for a little while she could escape the money grubbing and the constant marketing.
As soon as this thought occurred to her, Jessica realized the sounds still echoed in her head, “Online Reputation.” “Social Media Marketing.” “Page Rankings”. As she shook her head to get rid of the voices she noticed that the grass was made of paper money and all of it with a picture of Franklin. She jumped to her feet and plucked as much as she could get her hands on. Soon she was surrounded by others doing the same thing.
Jessica filled her arms with the bills and headed for the exit before people stole them from her. At the edge of the park a man in a suit directed her to deposit her armload into a chute. When she shook her head he told her that she would be taken to prison for theft if she did not let go of her spoils. As she did, the man in the suit put on a visor and punched a few numbers into a calculator. He handed her a small slip of paper as he said “15 minutes plus commission, your pay for this morning is $5. Thank you. This field in worthless now, tomorrow we hope to see you at Downtown Park for the next reaping.”
Jessica left the park confused and dazed. She felt the check slip from her hand and dropped down to retrieve it. Suddenly mud splashed into her face. At first she thought she must have done it when she landed, but after wiping her eyes she saw black dress shoes with mud on the toes. As she looked up she saw a man in a black suit and black sunglasses holding her check. He looked at it, reached to his right and handed her three dollar bills. “Uncle Sam needs to keep you safe” was all he said before walking away, leaving Jessica in the mud with nothing but $3.
As she looked across the now desolate field, she saw people putting up tents while the suits talked about selling mineral rights while people still saw value in it and how to convince workers understood that collecting as much as possible as quickly as possible was in the worker’s own self-interest.
Jessica thought that no matter how rich she was she would never treat people like slaves. A voice behind her began to speak. “You have to spend money to make money.” Jessica spun around to find that no-one was there. “Money fuels the American Dream.” Jessica frantically looked for the source of the words. “Putting down your own money shows commitment.”
Jessica called out, “But how do I show commitment when I am broke?”
Jessica ran toward the voice, “We will tell you how much is enough commitment.” responded the voice of the bank. Jessica stopped running. If she emptied all of her accounts and committed to survival based on the investment, wouldn’t that show more commitment than the richest man alive buying it outright?
Jessica found herself alone in a sea of black. She had only her three dollars to keep her company as she suffocated from the lack of air in this space. How would she ever escape this well of poverty when in order to grow she needed wealth?
Jessica found herself gasping for air as she awoke to hear Kenzie’s training videos, “Sell, Sell, Sell!” “Motivate!” “Upsell!”