Man in The Low Castle

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Content 18+ Once there was a man, and there was a s…sorry, employee. It was something I would call an ordinary relation based on power, even though it all began with sweets and roses.

Come closer. I am going to tell you the story which lies beyond the boss-clerk relations, the story that eventually leads to life-changing events. Probably, our hero should be grateful to this man, after all. This was a System Failure.

It was a dark city under the lead-colored sky, strangled by the never-ending crisis. People rushing to the underground in the morning, accidents when some of them fell on tracks. Nine month of cold, windy winter framing three months of glowing summer when nature is trying to live through all the year squeezed in a short period of proliferation.

It was a dark time when local currency denominated twice (I know it can be worse, like hyperinflation – this also happened before, but not this time), when small and medium-size businesses had difficulties even closing the company – I am not saying about opening one. It was a time when witch hunt was proclaimed on the local financial market that eventually led to the unification of power in the hands of a few.

Many lost their jobs in the financial sector, suffered even more from the destruction of banks when falling colossuses buried smaller companies during their fall. It was a hard time to get some money at all, not even saying anything about planning – and surely not about saving. Just to be clear, I am not telling about some distant time here – it was 2014-2015.

There was a man who managed to slice through this untouched, losing only external layers of his wealth (even not being close to The Power); energetic, handsome, clever – he was renting a yacht when others were searching through the garbage for the remains of food.

When small consulting company realized that in the eye of the storm they got him as a client it was a relief both for the owners and for the team, as now future seemed to be brighter and even icy road to work, covered in cocktail of dust, salt and mud felt like sanctuary on the way to heaven. At last, they could rest and be sure that next year they will be able to pay their mortgage.

At least it seemed so in a beginning. The first bell dinged in the head of the team leader when he got a call at 1 a.m. with some questions about the relatively small transaction. The second one sounded like a horn when it was a call during vacation…which is fine if you are a consultant if it won’t be 5 a.m. After that, the bonds began to tighten. Finally, one of the team members found herself sitting with the notebook on a beach with her kids running around, stuck with the necessity to vacate from vacation 9 till 20 in the evening. Basically, the same transformation happened to the whole team, which later came to a simple understanding – this man was not their client anymore. He was a boss now, a Big Boss, calling on average 30 times per day if not present in the office. It was a perfect hijack, and it was a really sweet one, as he was paying much more than the market was capable of providing.

The team began to work during weekends, holidays, vacations, sleeping with phones. Basically, there were no vacations or holidays at all. As soon as he realized that the team is on hook, payments started to be delayed. A few days here, a few days there – but it was still fine. People were taking the bait deeper. Some might say that it is common or the team was lucky to get at least this. It might be so…but later on demands began to grow even further, spreading to something not discussed initially, and late-night calls were considered to be fine. People started to ask if they can go to have lunch on a daily basis, and it was a frequent “no”.

One day one of the team members got an excellent offer – an offer to become one of the executives of the medium bank, which was up and running and in good health. It was a bright future and really good money. Also, it was a future limited by the blinkers.

When you get this sort of an offer, you say – wow, it is a lifetime opportunity! How far can I go? How much (let’s be honest here) can I earn? I should accept it right now! Give me a pen!

Still, there is a catch. First of all, with this sort of shareholder/stakeholder/boss – call it whatever you want – you won’t be able to actually spend it on yourself. If you have kids – they will see your money, not you. They will be sleeping when you come back home, they won’t be still awake when you leave. Your husband (or wife)? Who is this stranger sleeping on my bed, anyway? I am not talking to him, he is just there to be. Second, how much can you (and here we approach one of the most precious and intimate questions ever) earn? What is the price of your body and soul rented for 14 hours per day? Funny thing is, it is about 2 900 EUR (or 3 125 USD) per month, including a bonus (if you were thinking about it). Yes, a huge salary is for the big boys in high castles, not for the ones who serve those who are in low castles. There are just a few of them, less than 1% of all the CEOs, who earn tremendous amounts of money. Usual truth is way much different.

So, can you really say that it worth it? At first glance – yes. Yet if you look deeper into this grinder, you may realize that it is not really a life of a free person – it is slavery, covered under the hood of prosperity. You can’t actually choose when being dragged, again and again, day after day through this grinder. You can say “no”, you live at work, you live the work, when you have sex you are thinking over the emails for the next day. When you go to bed and close your eyes with vanishing thought of next day meeting with the owner and have dreams about his project – it is not really you anymore. You are being owned.

It strikes like lighting, it is really hard to believe in, yet if you look closer you can see that something is wrong with this world, some small thing that keeps disturbing you. You feel it in the backyard of your mind, digging in, holding your hand before the final signature…and if you let it in you can realize that there is another way. You are not obliged to stay in a place that you feel is wrong. You can look for other opportunities, even being smashed by the situation, not having enough money for the next day – even then you can look around. There are millions of opportunities. Sometimes consciously, sometimes not – other people, laws, situation – try to persuade us that there is no other way, that there are only black and white.

I can tell you one thing – everything is grey. There are many shades of it, it can be brighter or darker, but finally it is only up to you to decide whether to remove blinkers or keep them, whether to take a step towards something new, towards yourself and your own life, towards your future and your kids (if you have them).

What will you choose?



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