Raw Thought

by Aaron Swartz

Robert Walker, Road Warrior

Robert Walker was the consummate road warrior. A decade out of college, but still single, his job as a salesman required him to spend his days traveling the country, making his pitch before assembled audiences of respected businessmen. Robert had never been one to get too attached to any place or person, he enjoyed the life on the road, remaking himself in every new location.

Since he had no one to come home to, he threw himself into his work, volunteering to take more and more days on the road, until the road itself became his home. Every place he went looked the same after all: the same white airports, the same chain stores, the same business types in the same suits. He felt he was getting to know “the neighborhood” and developed a routine: Wake up at the Westin in the morning, grab a coffee at Starbucks, head to the office to make a pitch, grab lunch at a Cheesecake Factory or a Chili’s, do another pitch at an office, then catch a plane to the next Westin.

Chain culture became his culture. Aside from the commute by airplane, it could easily pass for just another job. He eventually let the lease on his apartment lapse, his suitcase becoming his only possessions. Soon he got rid of that too, adding the task of picking up a new pair of clothes as Banana Republic to his nighttime rituals. He felt freer, knowing that no matter where he went, the world would provide him with all his favorite things. All he had to do was show his credit card.

He realized the credit card was the only part of the wallet he was using — it got him his e-tickets at the airport, paid for his clothing and his meals, reserved the room at his hotels — so he chucked the rest of the wallet and carried only that. He decided to chuck his cell phone too — he had the head office call him every morning to tell him where he was to pitch to next.

Now he truly felt alive. A man with a card — that was all he was — yet the world bowed before him, ministering to his every want. The people he interacted with started to seem different to him. No longer were they simply service workers, doing their job to get their pay. Now they seemed like servants, bowing before him in obeisance to his power. “Have a nice flight, Mr. Parker”, “Enjoy your meal!”, “Thank you, sir” — it all now sounded like genuine emotion to him. It sounded like love.

Yes, that was it, he decided. The world had finally come to love him. The parents who never supported him, the girls who’d quickly abandoned him, the friends who were never there for him — well, he now had the last laugh. The world now catered to his every whim, fitting his desires like a well-tailored glove. And all he had to do to get it? He simply had to train himself to want what it provided.

You should follow me on twitter here.

November 8, 2006


Incidentally, today is also the day I fly to California. A prize to the first person to correctly guess what unrelated thing I will be doing today.

posted by Aaron Swartz on November 8, 2006 #

Hmmm, buying clothing.

posted by fatbear on November 8, 2006 #

Or going to the Union Oyster House for one last meal

posted by fatbear on November 8, 2006 #

Or walking down to the Charles for one last look.

posted by fatbear on November 8, 2006 #

Or looking at the falling-Fall-leaf colors one last time? (No such thing as Fall leaf colors in the Valley.)

posted by fatbear on November 8, 2006 #

Buying and eating an entire cake to celebrate your birthday?

(That’s what I’d probably do)

posted by alexis on November 8, 2006 #

Birthday? Happy Birthday! 21?

Then it’s your first legal drink.

posted by fatbear on November 8, 2006 #

Or, in emulation of Robert Walker, leaving everything you own in Cambridge and starting out with a clean slate? (Except for your credit card and - one presumes - lap top and iPod.)

posted by fatbear on November 8, 2006 #

Hm, since the reddit deal, just posts about money. One more soul lost to the bling.

posted by webcritic on November 8, 2006 #

First thing? Doubting that the next thing you’re doing is the right thing to do.

posted by anon on November 9, 2006 #

So, who won?

posted by fatbear on November 13, 2006 #

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