Disclaimer: This is another one of those Big Epiphany at Work Posts....
...I moved to Los Angeles partly to pursue filmmaking, but also because living in the Bay Area was a little too easy. Close to my parents, close to everything I knew and had grown up with, I had the easy option of falling into a comfortable, sheltered, family-and-friends-supported lifestyle. I know a lot of people would kill to have this option, but I wanted to disillusion myself of the cheese-and-sundried-tomato comfort zone. From my time in UCLA, I knew that Los Angeles felt more challenging, that the city was populated with desperation and contradiction that my upbringing had largely shielded me from. Basically, I wanted to see the evil shit that was really going on in the world.
...Call it slumming or dilletante-ishness, whatever. I didn't actually wander the streets looking for trouble, but I enjoyed living in Lala land because it felt more on the edge of things, things which would increase my catalog of experience. And as time passed, living here became mainly about the day-to-day routine and I forgot about my fetishistic fascination with whatever "human struggle" I imagined was going on here.
...Yesterday I went to a Superbowl party where I didn't know many people, which was fine. There was something strange about the party though, and I couldn't quite figure out what it was. Then it hit me: everyone was being nice to each other. Not to me, specifically, because I'm a recluse, but there was a baseline civility that permeated the party. And that is weird to me now. And I realized, then, that without really noticing it, I'd found what I had been looking for in Los Angeles.
....Because I work next to some of the most evil people on the planet and if you'd told me they existed before I had my job I would have said you were making it up.
...Now, of course, no group can qualify as "the most evil people." There's simply too many kinds of evil! But I think it can be said that within the California casino gambling community there are people who represent everything that can be wrong about people. Sort of like the credit card commercial where the football players are "metaphors" for the various levels of fraud protection? See, sitting at the table on any given night, you have a veritable color palette of human evil, weakness and stupidity. You have Greedy Guy. You have Sociopathic Wants To Punch You In The Face Guy. You have Say Anything To Take All Your Money Girl. You have Guy Who Acts All Nice And Then You Find Out He Buried His Spouse In The Backyard. You have people who can only communicate through screaming, and people who can only talk if they are lying. You have drug dealers, con artists, gangsters, and whores of all kinds (but generally not the sexual-relations kind). And, as I've found, they're mainly just insane, badly-brought-up people doing their thing, and that's cool.
...But there is another, serious kind of evil that can be plainly observed at work, one which I definitely was fortunate to NOT experience in my youth. It's hard to articulate, but I believe it is the Evil that makes the World Go Round. Basically, it is People Who Use Their Power & Privilege To Fuck You. It is not behavior exhibited by the obviously criminal types, aptly, because there's no law against it. It's mainly the shit pulled by the people who would be deemed by our society as "successful"; store owners, business men, day traders, salespeople, heirs and heiresses and trophy wives. They, in my mind, are the real problem, because they think they can get away with anything. They never ask, but demand everything they get. They scream at the weak and helpless, and take offense at everything. They make up scenarios in which they are wronged by the "help" (the working-class and whatnot) and take action to make life miserable for those people. They are always right. They never apologize for anything, because it is always someone else's fault. Any consequences of their actions, they deflect those consequences to other people who had nothing to do with it. They take stuff from you, never give it back, and never give you anything (because you, in your charming middle-class naivete, believed it maintains the social fabric to lend your jacket to one who asks for it because they are cold, not realize that this is really a sign of weakness, and a primary method of wealth/assets accumulation for the already-very-very-rich).
...So when I say these people are metaphors, I mean all of this should sound familiar. I think we've all wondered what really goes on in the corporate boardrooms and the warlord's strongholds where they make decisions that really screw over tons and tons of people. Tax Cuts for the Wealthy anyone? War to increase Oil Company Profits? Cash In on the Real Estate Market after a Hurricane? Cut Public Education and Increase Spending on New Improved Ways to Kill All The Poor People?
...Do people do these things? People do. And you can say I'm overdramatizing the situation if you want, but I now feel truthful in saying, I see those people every day.