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|The Second Avenue Deli School of Economics - Page 5|
I try again. How much is the bill? All he has to do is check what he's already added up, or so I think. Even though I can't read his order, I know he can.
I wait, and ask again. What's the bill?
He's standing up ready to leave. The audience is over.
How much is the bill?
It's clear he feels sorry for me. I can hear his thoughts. Oh, you poor person of little faith.
He looks pained.
Finally he speaks, his voice low and soft as if I were in a hospital bed coming out of a coma. Don't worry, he says. I feel safe.
I go home. Arthur says knowingly, I bet you overordered. How much was it?
Don't worry I tell him. So we didn't.
The food always arrived on time. It was always hot and delicious, and what wasn't hot could easily be reheated. There were always leftovers, and the bill was always reasonable.
I've thought long and hard about those days and the lessons I've learned. One is that worry is pointless. Just find the right people or doctrines to believe in, and do your part.
We came through the McCarthy period, which to me was one of the most frightening periods in our country, and the people came to their senses. We've come through the Vietnam War, and the people came to their senses. We've come through Bush, and the people came to their senses. As Ma says in The Grapes of Wrath, "Us the people" go on.
It seems to me now, in this deranged world of economic corruption, folly, greed, ineptitude, and anything else you want to call it, that "don't worry" is a perfectly sane and reasonable way to approach the current mess. Us the people will come through.
This, too, shall pass—the country isn't going down the drain.
I'll not worry, even as I look at my monthly financial statements.
I'll not worry that some people who I believe should be in jail aren't in jail.
I'll not worry that the money I thought I'd put aside for my grandchildren's college education is half what it should be.
I'll not worry that, if rent control ends, I'll be in serious trouble
I'll not worry, and occasionally I'll still throw a quarter to a traveling troubadour who may be singing under my window sill, and still manage to believe in a Eugene Debs or people like him—they're out there, somewhere.
I lived through it all once, as did Arthur, and we kept on going.
And now that I'm at ease with my Second Avenue Deli philosophy, I think I'll go out and buy a lottery ticket. I think the jackpot is $54 million.
As they say, "You never know."
Esther Rothman has lived through 17 presidential administrations, and still has high hopes for the future. She resides in New York City. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org. Tell us what you think about this article by e-mail at email@example.com, or at www.psychotherapynetworker.org. Log in and you'll find the comment section on every page of the online Magazine section.