“Workers of the world, unite!” The admonition, the plea, the call to action rang through the bar, issued by a man much less disheveled in appearance than she would have guessed given the socialist tenor of his rhetoric. Fresh off a grueling double, in the midst of a bonkers month, at the end of an exhausting year or nine, she was at once in no mood for shenanigans and oddly captivated. Residing at the epicenter of the capitalist universe, a place dominated by those whose dual modes were possession and accumulation, she had become inured to the inequalities that made for inconvenient marketing copy. The ranting of this lunatic, or potentially savant (it was hard to tell), tickled her dormant sense of justice and pricked at her outrage.
Built and maintained on the backs of the proletariat, the ski town nonetheless expected its workers to blend seamlessly into the background, to be grateful for the opportunity to be subservient. The ruling class figured that as long as the masses had the opiate of their snowbound religion, they would be mollified, would not revolt at the mounting ignominies. Oblivious, they had not considered that the stress engendered by unrelenting labor would beget an opioid haze of a much more nefarious type. Fortunately for their net worth, the hoi polloi had only given lip service to the idea of divesting from the pharmaceutical companies who held the poorer sorts in their thrall.
She knew more people that had committed suicide than had only one job. This grisly realization revealed the true costs of socioeconomic imbalance and further attracted her attention to the guy loudly and quite randomly spewing Marxist propaganda in a crowded tourist trap. Yes, it was rather late at night, and yes, there was a decent chance that he was at least pretty drunk, but she was just raw and vulnerable and indignant enough to see the wisdom of his admittedly communist views. It drew her back to a time when she had the luxury of caring more, of not having to worry about the troubling ratio between her wages and her lease obligations.
The bottom of the Valley had dropped out, the inevitable crashing of a wave that had been roiling for a decade, exacerbated by a plague. In the aftermath, the disparities of wealth and opportunity were rendered all the more stark. Folks were coming to town and paying for eight figure homes in cash, while long-time residents were figuring out if there was really any harm in just maybe testing out OnlyFans. She had considered it, along with any number of questionable schemes, because rent levels were psychotic. So many friends were leaving, many more than that were struggling in one way or another. It was a heavy time, a tense one, with short tempers and shorter sight.
With the exception of her and a couple of dudes at the next table, nobody was really paying much attention to the proto-Lenin. And then he very loudly said a word that almost stopped the crowd dead. “Strike.” It hit her like onomatopoeia. An utterance that excites a visceral reaction, it encapsulates the idea of class struggle, paints the picture of worker unrest, and either attracts or repels. This being a mostly chichi crowd, it tended to the latter, one of whom actually said the word “Commie,” which she found equally comical and disturbing. But the concept made so much sense: the numerical advantage, the power, the sheer need to do something to try to stem the tide, that she felt more than a little nervous when she realized that she was enthralled. The thought of bringing the bustling resort economy to a standstill was intoxicating.
He was being purposefully provocative and reckless and was preaching to the wrong crowd, but she couldn’t help but appreciate the obvious sincerity in his message and the mischievous glint in his eye. If he cared about this locale as much as she did, and as it appeared that he did, then things were about to get interesting.