Outside the auditorium the gaggle of primarily white men in 300+ dollar raw denim and vintage sneakers smile and pat one another on the back and some hug and talk big about angel investors and start ups and wink and nod and head straight for a line of waiting luxury buses outside to ferry them back to Silicon Valley from this field trip to the city. Amelia M., though, makes a b-line for Mission street, eyes on the patterned industrial carpet and then the neatly poured concrete outside the Moscone Center and doesn’t look up until she’s at least 30 feet from the glass doors so she can finally light up an American Spirit. She types feverishly into her cell phone, one handed, while the cigarette burns to a nub. Then with a look of surprise, or contempt, lights another. Of course one of the men from the lecture sidles up next to her, asks if he can bum one, pockets an e-cig vaporizer and begins with a grin to remind her of the speech she is already trying to forget into her notes.
“Talk about ‘old guard’ right?” He says.
Amelia, well practiced speaking with tech-nerds, pours first kindness, “can you imagine being at the head of that table? I mean, having everything you can imagine. Endless. Limitless…stuff and junk.”
“So what happens to all the people who aren’t at the table, who don’t have the food?” Amelia asks. “I mean, pragmatically speaking, if we have to accept that some people have limitless desires, and mathematically speaking there’s only one seat at the head of the table, then what?”
The grin quivers.
“So just who gets to sit in that seat?”
No more nodding.
“I can guarantee that it’s not me,” she says. “Or you. And certainly not Mister Endless-Table-PhD.”
“It was just a philosophical trial. Food for thought, if you will.” He appears pleased as a peach with the pun.
“Food is not philosophical. People need to eat. And if only one fat motherfucker gets to sit at that table, then the rest of us starve.”
“I don’t think he was being literal.”
“He may not have been pedantic, but he most certainly asked us to recognize just how fundamentally fucked up these greedy Wall Street fucks are. And to leave if we didn’t agree that endlessly feeding our needs and wants at the expense of others was a flaw. A flaw I see as psychopathic. Right? But then nobody left. Not one of you. Point literally made.”
The grin chews on this, briefly. “Or he was hoping to distinguish that it is okay to want, and to get what you want, as long as you maintain some reasonable limits.”
“I didn’t hear that,” Amelia raises her voice. “Even if that were so, that he was somehow advocating for some limited amount of greed, at whose expense?”
“Look. I get where you’re headed with this. But I’m not the enemy in his fairy tale. It’s not like I’m taking food out of someone’s mouth just because I’m paid well for my expertise.”
Amelia crushes the butt of her cigarette on her heel, drops it in her bag, hikes her multi-colored tights up and smooth’s the crease in her threadbare corduroy skirt. “No. You certainly don’t steal food from their mouths,” she says and turns from the twit with one of her smokes smoldering in his hand as the 14-Mission bus pulls up at the corner. “You’ve intercepted it all at the market.”
Amelia races to the bus, next in line behind Santa.