One night I took a walk downtown. The streets were buzzing with activity. Artists had their works out on easels up and down the sidewalk. Jewelry, t-shirts, pottery… just a lot of stuff. Some of it was cool, but most were just different variations of skulls and crossbones, a favorite motif in this part of California.
I came across a table set up to a lively bar. There is usually a shooting at the bar, so I was careful to stay to the right of the front window. That would probably keep me out of the majority of crossfire. Unless someone stumbled out and ran to their left. But at least I had a fifty percent chance of that happening. Maybe only 33 percent, since they still had straight and right to choose from. I’m not sure what the probabilities of going left out the door were, though.
On the table were a slew of books. Books by Marx, Lenin, Engels, Mao. The table was governed by two young millennial girls. Their presentations were the same; as one gave her spiel to me I could hear a version of it being given to another just a few feet to my right. He was lucky, as he was that much further from possible crossfire. It was all about how the proletariat needed to rise up and throw out the Koch brothers, and others like them, as they had taken over the destiny of of mankind. “We can’t learn anything that will get us ahead because they keep us down. They control the system,” she said over the hustling noise of other street vendors.
A homeless guy came up to the table and stood next to me. “Oh, Karl Marx, I want this! Can I have it?” She just looked at him and muttered a no. He didn’t skip a beat. “I have money in the bank, five-thousand dollars, I can get it tomorrow, then can I buy the book?” She muttered another “No.”
It was then I realized that the homeless guy and I were in her little world, and she had control of the books, and neither of us, not that I wanted any of them, could have them, not for free, and not at a cost. I rejected the first thought that came to mind, which was to offer to buy the book for the homeless guy. That would have been ironic, a capitalist buying a communist book from a communist for someone who couldn’t afford to buy it for himself. I kept that idea to myself and soaked in the micro-communist societal experience I had just been exposed to.
I left the table and headed down the street. A guy had a stacked with a display of hand-made pens out of various exotic woods. I wanted one. So I bought it.