She takes a drink of her Pinot Noir. It’s a newer vintage but the burst of flavor is no less significant, complimented by the rich purple color. She looks away for a moment, opens her mouth as if to say something but she stops short. A few moments later, after the generally dull conversation of yet another dinner dies down, she manages a question.
“Yes, but what’s it all for.”
The inundation of formulas, best practices, and over applied, reductionist cases echo this question day after day, night after night, presentation after presentation, until finally the reverberations rest on her lips at the networking dinner, conveniently catered and planned by the powers that be.
A classmate, a colleague, a future business partner, or a future one night stand for that matter, opens his mouth, not in retort, but out of an unintended embarrassment.
“God. What are you talking about? What do mean what’s it all for?”
Statistics are posted daily: average salary, signing bonuses, and title. Oh God, the titles. That’s the worst part of it all, at least that’s what she thought. To her, they were nothing more than a flashing sign of presumed prominence, and artificial significance. And frankly, the world she was about to enter valued those things so far as they could maintain the weightiness of the word “value.”
She didn’t respond to him. What was the point? He’d only talked about something other than the desire to “make bank” on two occasions. At this point, her glass was looking desperately short on conversation starter and she suddenly felt the pain of regret of even saying anything at all. It’s seemed so much easier to assume she was alone in these kind of thoughts of insignificance rather than hope a few others might have entertained them. Perhaps she was the only one who experienced annoyance that anyone cared about whether or not India or China was a better target market.
She had hoped that someone would have chimed in with an almost rehearsed sounding answer about stoking the economic fires, enabling the reduction of poverty and the revolution of communities. She had hoped someone might have asserted the importance and dignity of work as it relates to human identity and value.
She had fished for these kinds of conversations, these kinds of comments before, hoping for signs of life, signs of a future, signs of a real purpose in it all; for, these were the things she held most dearly, dwelt upon most often, and reflected on most deeply. Each day brought with it a flicker of possibility that today would be the day in which the conversation was sparked.
She took another drink, cursed herself for only being able to think in terms of scarcity, and searched for the waiter to give her a check so she could wash her hands of the whole thing. But of course, it was covered. She was at the beck and call of their esteemed guests.
They operated under a particular definition of what it meant to be alive, of what it meant to be human. For them it was for everything. “It” was above question and consideration and would be until 20 years down the line when the malaise of monotony had lulled them into a dazzlingly unexpected mediocrity.
“Nothing. I’m not talking about anything at all.”
For today was not that day.