8/9/20: God, Man and Business #poetry #essay #PoeticEssay #UniversityReopenings

8/9/20: God, Man and Business #poetry #essay #PoeticEssay #UniversityReopenings

I don’t take the car out much in the plague

Paula had an appointment in Wilmette and we got ice cream

I noticed that I needed air in my tires

Not flat but low from lack of use

I pull into the Just Tires at Broadway and Lawrence

Can I get air in my tires?

The guy was busy

an immigrant

Pull it up here

Drops what he is doing, grabs a hose, starts filling me up

No process, no pleasantries, no questions, no waiting, no up-sell, no sell

Matter of fact

I take out my wallet

I have to give the guy something

All twenties

I don’t want to give him that much

I look at Paula

What can you do?

I take out a twenty

He is finishing up

Hey buddy …

I put down my window and hand him the money

He takes it

Fine that I gave it

Fine If I wouldn’t have

No a-thousand-thank-yous-kind-sir

No big smile

People help each other

People appreciate it

Just another day in a decent world

No big deal

Why was Jesus a carpenter?

Why was he poor?

Why was he executed as a criminal?

Why the contrast?

Why the divinity and the low status?

Being There

My first job was in the installment loan department of the Lincoln Rochester Bank in Rochester, New York

Jesuit high school summer

I did the job for several summers into college time

Notre Dame summers

God at the edges of banking

Lincoln Rochester was bought out by Chase Manhattan Bank while I was there

and everything became colder

From George Bailey to the Hudsucker Proxy between Junior Year of High School and Junior Year of College

I saw the twilight of banking

Community became corporation

When I was at McQuaid Jesuit and Notre Dame in the 1970s

I never felt that people didn’t care about me

The teachers and staff wanted to educate me

They wanted me to be safe and happy

When I was a freshman at Notre Dame we used to go to Polka Bar up Route 31 into Michigan, where the drinking age was 18


A kid in my dorm got killed hitchhiking back from that bar one night

It was a big deal

I remember a big presence of


tending to us

trying to fix the root causes of what happened


Many years later

in the early 2000s I think

a student manager of the football team went up on a scaffold overlooking practice

making a training video in a windstorm

He was blown off the slight structure

and fell several stories to his death

I remember a big presence of lawyers this time

not pastors

concern for students was replaced by concern with legal liability

by this time

The cathedral steeple used to be the tallest structure in any town

before skyscrapers were invented

Corvias is a capital investment firm

that “partners” with universities

financing, developing and managing student housing

Notre Dame


and Wayne State

are all Corvias partners

All have reopened their campuses this Fall 2020 semester

in the midst of the pandemic

Corvias does not even consider not reopening

as any concerned pastor would do

and these ivory tower institutions

have lost all self-determination

their values are necessarily compromised to the values of their


The tentacles of business wrap around us all

quite literally choking us

we die for business

as we rush to the casinos and motels and water parks and car dealerships

that they instruct us to buy from

we need the collegiate experience

how neatly our desires serve business’ revenue streams

Notre Dame markets the teachings of the Catholic Church

for tuition, room and board

a tidy sum

you get to be successful

have fun

and here’s the kicker — be a really good Christian

someone who does good

Why wasn’t Jesus an investment banker?

Or a dean?

Things were better in the seventies

I’m not being nostalgic

They weren’t better because I was young

They were better because business hadn’t bought everything yet

There was just as much greed and exploitation

just as much blood money

but business wasn’t as good at being business

It was still learning

It didn’t learn how to control data

it hadn’t figured out how to commodify everything

I knew drunk, tormented priests when I was a kid

who thought about theology and philosophy all the time

Now students are customers

and the clergy is a customer service career

Nancy Pelosi is an 80 year-old Catholic grandmother among other things

She remembers what it was like better than I do

of how it was before business took over

Even she has said

of her $ 3.4 trillion necessary Heroes Act

“It’s a lot of money”

the irony is

that money

and more like it

is needed to save business itself

the economy

besides the people

but business will now implode

its credo

never give

only take

never be honest


use use use

control control control

be larger than life

supersede life

will now create a genocide

and pull business down too

Business has always been a thief and a murderer

and now it has come for itself

Why was Jesus betrayed for thirty pieces of silver?

Of what earthly good is business?

We write In God We Trust on our money

but we have foolishly put our trust in the money itself

and it has betrayed us

Business needs ego and show and public relations and awards

to cover up how unimportant it is

The priest-President of Notre Dame was recently photographed partying with non-socially distant students

promoting and selling back-to-school in a viral cesspool

desperately trying to gin up enthusiasm for the local “townies” who are sure to get sick and die so Corvias gets its money

(In the seventies we used to go see movies like The China Syndrome and we’d believe it, take it as a warning — now with all of the sophistication and idealism that’s out there — somehow the puzzle is still confusing to most people — because the reality is so

God awful)

The priest dances an Irish jig

to sell his corporation that spews deadly toxic waste into the air

as wanton and murderous

as any criminal chemical company creating cancer clusters in the neighborhoods adjacent to its facilities

The priest-President later apologizes for not keeping socially distant

I made a mistake

he says with a boyish smile

Oh father — you are so charming

how can anyone stay mad at you for long

Your such a good salesman

Your product is to die for

I wish I was as good as the guy who put air in my tires

that will never be

but I am glad that I have always been such a lousy businessman

that has saved me

It is so odd to watch the people who have been anointed as pillars of the community

run around so desperately and maniacally

Their institutions

so rich and high-minded and holy

turn from the seven sacraments to an infomercial

from the nation’s foremost Catholic university

to Jonestown, Guyana

How many people will business kill before it dies?

Copyright 2020 Richard Thomas


















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