I was standing in line for the checkout at the gas station. There were two guys in their late teens, possibly early twenties, standing in front of me (six feet away, obviously). Even though there was a guy arguing with the cashier about why pulling the collar of his shirt over his face doesn't count as a mask, I couldn't help but overhear the conversation of the two young guys in front of me.

One of them was talking about his experience at work the day before, it seemed multiple people had called in sick, leaving only him and his supervisor to run the place. He talked about how a huge rush hit, and how his supervisor was on edge and ready to break.

As he kept talking his energy kept getting more and more enthusiastic "it was a shit show, but I told him 'we got this!' I was fucking everywhere! I had the headset taking orders while running the front at the same time, I was making the food, and throwing bags out like a mother fucker! Tim's over in the corner crying like a bitch all pissed no one came in, but I just kept movin movin movin. Shit was crazy! Finally everything died down, it was like 4 hours of bullshit but time went by fast."

Other guy looks up from his phone for a brief second "damn". First guy says with obvious pride in his voice "yeah, I fucking killed it. And Tim's bitchass says to me when I was headed home that he was glad I was there and that I did good, especially for being a new guy".
In my head I'm thinking "hell yeah, kid! Fucking get it!" That's when guy #2 finally pulls his face out of his phone and opens his mouth to shit out the words "I wouldn't brag about that if I was you"

Slightly deflated, but not deterred, the first kid says "why not?", "because you work at Burger King!" Second guy continues, slowly increasing his volume steadily as he keeps gurgling the verbal diarrhea out of his facehole, knowing others will hear the faux wisdom he's about to layout on his high achieving friend "what do you get out of it? Is you gonna get a raise?" "No, but.." "is you gonna get promoted?" "Maybe someti.." "Maybe?! You ain't gonna get shit, #&$@! All you's doing is helping a rich man get richer and you woulda got paid the same if you just chilled like your boss" at this point guy number 2 is essentially preaching to the whole store. Guy #1 quietly, hard to hear through the mask "at least I got a job". Guy #2 "stop bragging, it's all bullshit, and Burger King ain't shit"

At this point I was lost in my head, thoughts running a million miles an hour at the scene I just witnessed, I couldn't help but tune the world out, I don't even remember reaching the cashier and checking out the drinks I bought. I wanted to tell the first kid "stop hanging out with that piece of shit, he's only gonna drag you down" of course I said nothing, but something inside was really bothering me, constantly nagging at the forefront of my psyche for hours, like a splinter in my throat. I realized what it was after constant thinking: the second guy wasn't wrong. But why did it bother me? I knew my supposition that guy #2 would only drag #1 down was also true. Well, this is the conclusion I came to:

The second guy was expressing a viewpoint rooted in nihilism. Being an atheist myself, I'm very prone to sympathize with nihilistic ideas. But I had to question what is the utility of such thinking? What does it benefit/who does it benefit? I grant that in the framework of all eternity, billions and billions of years, nothing we do will matter in the end. But is this something useful or comforting to anyone?

Take for example a child in distress, I picture my daughter in a few years being distraught over something, perhaps she's suffering immensely because a classmate was mean to her in pre-school and took her toy. Perhaps she's ill with a cold and is miserable in her sickness. In what world would it be a comforting notion to sit her down and explain "listen Rosy, I know things are difficult, I know you're really upset and in pain. But you have to understand that literally everything in life is totally meaningless. I mean it, in a billion years when the earth doesn't even exist anymore, the universe won't even notice that you, me, mom, or the mean bully ever even existed! So it's ok, calm down. The suffering you feel right now won't matter when you're dead". Does this seem useful? Of course not. A pathological ideology that has no means, in any way, to even grant comfort to a suffering child is one that shouldn't be granted any utilitarian validity or second thought.

So in regards to guy #2, despite the fact that I'll grant him he's not wrong, there's underlying issues I take with his logic:
1) like the evil hoodoo magic in the movie "The Skeleton Key", nihilism only works on you if you believe in it strong enough to grant it power over you.
2) after you've granted its power to guide your actions, you'll enter a negative feedback loop, constantly confirming the ever presence of suffering in life, making you more and more miserable, consuming you in an endless world of meaningless suffering with no reason to improve your own lot.
3) since misery loves company, they'll stamp out and ridicule every instance of achievement gained by the people around them, be that family or friends.

Now imagine a world where a substantial portion of the population has adopted such a pathological and poisonous outlook, what does it look like to you? Is it a better world? A world where the dominant mindset of the masses is rooted in an ideology that doesn't even have the means to comfort a suffering child, or a mindset that shoots down the hardworking ambition of a young man that takes pride in his work, is this what a better world looks like?

I now know what I wish I could tell that misguided kid after he shot his friend down for finding some joy in achievement: "If the 'rich man' really wanted to keep all of us down, they merely need to give you a megaphone. Nothing would be more successful at keeping people down in a state of suffering and poverty than your pathetic nihilistic world view".

There's an old adage that I learned from my LDS upbringing, one that my father instilled in me "What e'er thou art, act well thy part". In other words, I don't care if you're a burger flipper at Burger King, be the best damn burger flipper you can, and take pride in your shit! The world needs more young men and women like guy #1, we already have a glut of guy #2, and you see them everywhere. I would trade every single guy #2 in this country for an immigrant or ambitious type like guy #1. And for the people who think it matters, guy #1 was black, and guy #2 was white.


Sat, 09/19/2020 - 12:24am

Wow, what a damn asshole. Thank you so much for blogging your thoughts about this.

Sun, 09/27/2020 - 7:05pm
Tongan43 Says:

I agree! Thanks for the read and upvote!