My next-door neighbor, Paul, was all grins the other day when we met for drinks after work.
“What are you so happy about?” I asked, my head sagging over my gin and tonic.
“Well,” Paul said, wearing a huge smile, “I’m not sure if you follow the financial news, but there was a major relief rally today on Wall Street.”
I peered up at him. “A relief rally?”
He nodded. “Yep. A big one.”
“Well, then,” I said, rolling my heavy eyes, “isn’t that just spellbindingly fantastic? Jolly jolly six pence.”
Paul’s bright smile dipped ever so slightly. “That sounded sarcastic.”
“Oh, no,” I said. “Not at all. You see, when it comes to relief, I can’t think of a more deserving group of people than rich Wall Street jerks with huge mansions, five vacation properties, four yachts, three private jets and a wad of hundred-dollar bills blowing out their backside. I mean, forget the working-class poor who are slaving away at multiple part-time jobs and struggling to raise their children in a rising-interest rate environment where wages are stagnant and the cost of living is skyrocketing. Goodness knows they don’t deserve relief. When the market dips ever so slightly, my heart goes out to the truly downtrodden — the truly worthy — such as the bankers and the politicians and the lobbyists. They’re the ones who deserve the outpouring of pity flowing from our tender hearts. In the patchwork quilt that is America, they’re the imperative threads that weave us all together in a snug cocoon of kinship and closeness.”
Paul blinked at me. “Are you sure you’re not being sarcastic?”
“What do you care about the ebbs and flows of the markets, anyway?” I asked, throwing back my drink. “You don’t have any money invested.”
“I was trying to pass on good news, is all. I read that you should try to share a bit of good news every day, to instill cheer in your fellow humans.”
I glared at him. “Instill cheer? And you think the idea of rich people getting richer is supposed to instill me with cheer?”
“Well.” Paul shrugged.
“If you wanted to instill me with cheer, you could tell me that housing is finally affordable, or that healthcare costs have gone down, or that instead of buying back their own stock, companies are finally investing in their employees.”
Paul shook his head. “Nope. None of that’s happened, as far as I can tell.”
At that moment, his phone buzzed. He picked it up to read the alert.
“Hey,” he said, “I got more good news. The Dow futures are way up in after-hours trading.”
I sighed, sinking lower in my bar stool. “What a relief.”