dirty rag

Economics - What economic slowdown?- Winfield Patterson

Well, Dan, I spoke too soon. The slowdown has had an Affect after all, in the hallowed halls of Wilson Sonsini. There has been a Freeze on hiring, the temps have all been Fired, the perks are Gone -- no more free dinners, and the Labor Day weekend at Pebble Beach has been Cancelled Forever. But the most ominous sign is that now all overtime has been Cancelled. That takes about a quarter to a third or more of my take-home pay on any given week away. And that hurts. Until that happened, I was getting ahead out here, getting on top of my bills, getting out of debt, and I still had money to go buy goofy shit -- tickets to Dave Matthews or the Giants or the Sharks, or to drop two cool twenties on a huge salmon filet and a twelve-pack of Bass for a Friday night barbecue with friends. Ah, the halcyon days.

But NO MORE. I spent the weekend watching baseball on TV and drinking homemade schnapps alone. Even my porno was cheap, shitty porn, left at my door by a Fleeing Dot Com Millionaire Neighbor. I had spotted him moving out the night before and went over to talk to him about it. "Seattle" he said, "Maybe I can go back to selling cars." That is a wretched fate, Dan, for someone who only two months ago bought brand new skis and a big screen TV ON THE SAME WEEKEND and WITH THE SAME PAYCHECK and had cash to spare, which we both did. It wasn't supposed to end this soon.

And great ideas were in the works, too. I heard rumors about two companies that, six months ago, were inking a deal to merge and create software capable of translating foreign languages into English and vice versa in real time through cellular phones. Both companies are bankrupt now, one of them facing charges from the SEC for securities fraud. But the software might have worked. It might have been really beautiful.

I am feeling the way the hippies must have felt when the yuppies came to town -- that the dream is dying, and being sold to the highest bidder. The corner of Haight-Ashbury now sports a Gap store, and all the purity of that time has vanished in a blur of mass-produced tie-dyes, and franchised coffee houses. There was a time when the internet held a lot of hope, and dreams were built. Not anymore.

"What does the future hold?" That's the voiceover in those damn Agilent Technology commercials with Anthony Hopkins sounding wistful and optimistic and wise -- they still play every seven minutes on CNN, and they remind me of the posters left to rot on the walls after the Circus has left town. The Party is Over. The future holds more of the same. Cold tuna from a can. NASDAQ: 1600.

It won't be long before the mortgages start drying up here, and the million-dollar bungalow homes of Palo Alto, Atherton, Woodside, Los Gatos and Saratoga begin showing up on the foreclosures lists, and legions of Carlton Sheets' real estate magnate wannabees turn them all back into rental housing for Stanford kids. We will be infested by a plague of The Ugly, The Mean, and the Jackals. The garage sales will be legendary. A Playstation 2 purchased four months ago for $1200 in the frenzy of gotta-have-it-now consumer nonsense will go for $20 at every third garage sale in the Valley for the next two years at least.

But I will bide my time and pay the bills. Hunker down and eat poor. This storm will last all year.