he was brought up to look out for himself and not be a parasite.
he studied hard and graduated from high school, without having to repeat a single year.
he respected his teachers.
he particularly respected the police and firefighters who kept law-abiding citizens safe.
but what he really respected was soldiers and other service persons - the brave men and women, those in the past and those in the present, who fought to keep america free.
about the only thing that made him mad was hearing hippies and liberals - or anybody at all - criticize or make fun of police or soldiers. the police and soldiers who were putting their lives on the line to keep them safe and free.
rick had a hard time finding a job when he graduated from high school.
he lived with his mom, ellen, and her sister, his aunt grace, in a three bedroom apartment.
rick's bedroom was very small.
the whole apartment was small. especially when all three of them were home.
rick wanted to get a job so he could buy a laptop and watch shows on it with earplugs on and tune out ellen and grace.
he had a little radio but most of what was on it bored him and sometimes gave him a headache.
for years grace made more money than ellen and paid more of the rent.
ellen worked at burger king. before that she had worked as a waitress at little diners.
grace worked at an insurance company . then she got laid off. she collected unemployment but from the first day she was laid off she went every day to look for work.
she was absolutely determined not to go on welfare. her determination not to go on welfare, and her contempt for people who did - became her main topics of conversation.
she wanted to do the same kind of work - data entry - that she had done at the insurance company but such jobs were drying up as everybody in the world could use a computer themselves as easy as talking on the phone.
rick thought grace was o k, but sometimes he got sick of hearing her always complaining.
sometimes there were four people hanging around the apartment, because grace had a friend named janet, from the job she had been laid off from, and janet would come over sometimes and she and grace would shoot the shit and gossip about the people at the workplace.
janet always pretended to be sympathetic to grace and was polite to rick and ellen but there was one thing about janet that made rick uncomfortable. she was black!
rick did not like black people. he didn't like the way they thought they owned the world. maybe janet wasn’t one hundred percent like other black people - she had a job at least - but that didn’t mean rick had to like her.
rick thought that the reason grace got laid off and janet stayed on must be because janet was black. he ventured to say so to grace one time and grace just looked at him like he was some kind of idiot, and said, no, it was because janet had more seniority.
rick wasn’t buying it. but if that was the way grace wanted to see it, what could he say?
but what about all the other white people who were losing their jobs just because they were white? what about them?
rick had one friend. well, he was sort of a friend. they didn't see each other all that much, but when they did eddie - that was the sort of friend's name - always smiled and said hello.
eddie was a counterman at the little diner ellen used to work at - not a chain like mcdonalds but just a little diner - one of the last of its kind - that rick sometimes dropped in on for a cup of coffee when he was out looking for a job.
one day around eleven in the morning rick went into the diner. the place was empty except for eddie.
eddie was leaning on the counter reading a book.
rick had never been much of a reader, but he asked eddie what the the book was about.
eddie picked the book off the counter so rick could see it.
the book was titled - “the life and death of adolf hitler”.