Thursday, March 02, 2006

Age Discrimination and the news

This evening, I had a long talk with "Jose", one of the hotel staff. His situation is a difficult one: three daughters and his wife has life-threatening emphysema. He was laid off from a lucrative bank position several years ago. Now he works at this hotel, earning a low wage. His commute is ninety minutes, each way.

Jose knows he must find different work, but it's not easy. Though many speak of Chile's thriving economy, for people like him, there is a much different reality. Once you're over forty, he says, your chances of finding a good job are very limited.

He enjoyed practicing his English with me. He has two sisters living in Canada and has been to visit Edmonton and Vancouver.


"NEWS"

In the cities, I look forward to catching up on the "news", but network TV just "raises my hackles": CNN's line-up of shows, "Art of Life" and "Quest for Wealth" and "Spotlight on the Academy Awards" panders to the privileged class. And this from a station that touts itself as a leading international news source. Don't we all aspire to be helicoptered to the ski slopes, or own a private jet so we can be in a meeting in the morning and on the ski slope in the afternoon? Wouldn't you want to buy a $50 million island in Dubai to satisfy your ego? And then there's all the excesses of "fashion": clothes, cars, jewelry, yachts, homes as monuments. This is something so remote from the great mass of humanity. Are we supposed to cheer these people? Or cite them as fine examples of humanity? Who really cares how a handful of humans squander their fortunes at the altar of ego, power and avarice? It's the same old story.

(Yet I was fascinated how the farmers in Panama's Darien were fascinated by the Mexican TV show about the wealthy.)


***

In a departure from routine, I made the mistake of trying "authentic Mexican cuisine" in Santiago: El Ran Che Ro Taqueria. It was unlike any Mexican food I've ever had. And they definitely get my "worst margarita ever award".

At another table I noticed a well-dressed gentleman with a phone hanging from a leash around his neck. Very symbolic of our attachment to technology. (It's painfully obvious in my need to always find a connection to the internet.)


***

This break in Chile has coincided with the release of a new album from one of my favorite musicians, Neko Case. I've spent an inordinate amount of time this week listening to her wonderful music (and trying to interest others in "having a listen." But it's something you can't force. Personal preferences develop gradually and organically. And they are just that: personal. It's difficult to explain why we are drawn in one direction and not another.)

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