Major Barbara (slight return)

My new job is in the neighborhood next to the airport where all the aerospace companies sit. It’s creepy.

Raytheon and Northrop Grumman and Boeing and the others all have huge compounds of factories and offices. Silos emit gusts of white gas, roofs grow antennas and dishes, and big trucks arrive and depart with lumpy tarp-covered cargo.

Satellite systems, missiles, aircraft, God knows what else all come out of these compounds. The bearded 50-ish guys I see going to lunch make this stuff. They remind me of the dads of my friends from childhood, but these guys are now just 10 or 15 years older than I. They look worn. From my own experience I know that some of them are drinking themselves to death or just eaten up inside from the awful machines they design and build.

The only cheap lunch in walking range is a choice among some bad fast-food chain places around the corner: generic pizza, Subway sandwiches. Today at the Starbucks there I had one of my odd imagination moments in which I see an overlay on the scene in front of me. I imagined the Hellfire missiles and cluster bombs and lasers and supercannons and 2000 lb bombs arriving on this mini-mall scene: flaming debris and shrapnel, screams, office people writhing in burning Dockers, blood spatter on the Z Pizza sign.

There is what people now call a “disconnect” between the sterile and pleasant mediocrity of the Starbucks patio and the horrors of war machines. I’ll go back to just drinking my half-good coffee and taking a break, and that shocking filter on the camera will go away at least for a while.

It’s instructive to be closer to the business end sometimes. I’m too wimpy to be radical and it’s easy to relax and avoid big problems too. Maybe a few more reminders will help me change?

8 thoughts on “Major Barbara (slight return)

  1. Based on my limited and indirect association with the state prison system and the associated guilt from that, I can’t even imagine what it would be like to be part of the arms industry.


  2. I can totally see this. My dad’s a career Lockheed guy, hired during the time when you didn’t need a college education to work there. He’s the working-class-made-good variant of one of the guys you see near your office. The union he bitched about paying dues to (IAMAW) helped me go to college and get out.


  3. My last job (the one I left after two months), I got asked during the interview how I felt about quote “putting lead on target”. I think the people at that company knew exactly what they were involved in.


  4. you and i have had this conversation before.. 🙂
    first.. i think a lot of people drive closer to the beach for lunch or eat from the trucks that come by.
    second… there are a variety of folks who jusify their jobs in different means.. like Denny was pretty apolitical and was just excited to work with the best and new toys in the world. he was programming the satelites that find the babbies to kill them.
    then the crew of raytheon people i knew.. the girl in accounting was stoked because she was like american fuck ya and thought she was protecting the country. the guy that helped program missles.. well he was just exctied to have a job and ended up leaving.. then there was the guy who pretended not to care and you could tell it really did bum him out, but he wanted to make six figures soooo bad. soooo bad. i think he eventually decided it wasn’t worth it.
    the boeing people like to consider themselve further removed because they are just doing plane stff and commercial enterprises use them too.
    there are all sorts of people in the world.. those who want money are a driving factor for the defense business.


  5. Maybe a few more reminders will help me change?
    i hope so
    i am a dork but the right livelihood part of the eightfold path seems like a bigger deal now that industrialization and globalization can separate us physically from the stuff you talking about. frown


  6. I used to read the livejournal of a girl who worked for the State Department under Rice. Her job was part of the “public diplomacy” initiative led by Bush/Cheney campaign operative Karen Hughes. And her justifications always came around to the one time she wrote a proposal for a grant, which was ultimately denied, which would have allocated some aid money for Egypt to repair the ferries that cross the Suez, a few months before one of them capsized and killed a bunch of people.


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