So after nearly three years of subverting capitalism via busking, rescuing and repurposing [everything], volunteering, squatting, etc. I finally succumbed to Capitalism and got myself a steady job at Darling Coffee in uptown Manhattan. My earnings helped me to lease my first apartment in the city and to keep my head above water (along with other paid gigs, a tax refund, and the generosity of my friends), just long enough to pay down my credit card debts.
But there was also a dark side to jobbing at Darling. I worked too hard for too little pay and it seemed that I was unable to please my bosses. Though I was working nearly full time hours and keeping my expenses very minimal (I had zero grocery expense, for one) I could not make ends meet. So after several months of deliberation, I finally quit.
My bosses had insisted that they could not afford a pay increase for me or any other employees, even though it appeared that they managed a fairly successful business in Darling. Assuming that this was true - that they indeed could not pay me a higher wage - left an indelible impression on me, particularly my views regarding Capitalism (as we know it), a system of wage slavery that entraps so many hard working - yet hopelessly poor - people in this country.
And I don't know how or whether the owners at Darling could have found a way to pay me more. That's really beside the point. I'm simply saying that a person working full-time hours should be able to make a simple living from the earnings - whether they are working the bottom rung at Darling Coffee, some other mom-n-pop shop, Wal-Mart, McDonald's, or any other business, big or small. That a whole class of "working poor" people even exists testifies to the failures of a system that allows such businesses to prosper.
But please let me be clear: I have no hard feelings against Darling or its owners. I still consider them friends and I wish them, their business (including the employees, who are also dear friends), and family well. I want them to succeed, and indeed I worked diligently for over nine months to ensure it. But I also see Darling as prototypical, the poster-child in my mind for a failed economic system, one that prioritizes profit over the well-being of people.
Especially the little people.
But I don't hold this against Darling. As far as I can tell, they're just working within the confines of a heartless economic machine; unfortunately, it seems that the machine would have it no other way.
So I've returned to a life of busking, rescuing food, volunteering, and otherwise living simply in uptown Manhattan. And I'm not looking back. I just need to devise how to maintain my financial stability as I proceed to subvert the empire, walking upright on my own two feet alongside my friends and neighbors in community.