Sunday, November 23, 2008

Sneak peek: an excerpt from "Gross Domestic Product"

"What?" shouted Jimmy from across the room. He wasn't shouting for my sake, of course: he was shouting because the headphones sealed around his ears had permanently damaged his eardrums, and Jimmy logically assumed that if he couldn't hear himself, nobody else could either.

"The stock market. News. Massive crash." I shouted back, matching his decibel level, for his sake instead of my own. "Have you looked at the NASDAQ today?"

"Yeah, somebody messaged me something." He clicked an icon and a paragraph of text slid up the side of his monitor. "Huh. Okay. So what? I don't mess with that kinda junk."

"Are you mad? This goes way beyond investors. Have you even begun to think about the implications this will have on the national economy?"

My roommate turned back to his screen with an apathetic shrug. "No big deal."

Linda sat in shocked silence as we argued, occasionally poking at the graph with my trackpad, sliding the mouse over info boxes to see trade volume and projections for her favorite stocks. Most of the text popups were an angry shade of red.

"Jimmy, your pizza-delivery job is shot. Sure, it will take a few weeks. But right now, every mother and father of every god-damned kid in this university is looking at their portfolios and thinking 'little bobby can do without spending money for a few months; we have to pay the mortgage somehow!' All those frat boys are gonna have to start tightening their belts, laying off the midnight pizza and beer, settling their asses into chairs at the dining hall to take advantage of the pre-paid meal plan dollars, because there ain't no more checks coming from the 'rents."

He remained glued to his computer. I stretched my leg out and delivered a sharp kick to the back of his broken-wheeled, dumpster-salvage, faded blue office chair. Incidentally, the wheels hadn't been broken when we hauled it out of the trash behind loading dock C. That was Jimmy's doing. Too much free pizza at work.

"And what's worse, these recessions take like a decade to go away. We're going to graduate in the crappiest economy ever. There's gonna be no jobs for us. Nothing! Get your head out of the ether and communicate in the real world, will you?" I screamed.

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