Olive Garden and Red Lobster may not be destinations for hipster Internet journalists, and they have seen revenue declines amid stagnant middle-class wages and increased competition. But they are still profitable businesses. Thousands of Americans work there. Why should they be bled dry by predatory investors in the name of “shareholder value”? What of the value of worker productivity instead of the financial engineers? Not salting your pasta water may be scandalous. But the real scandal here is what this hedge fund wants to pull off, which can only be called legalized theft
I began to understand, quite starkly, in that moment, the freedom that white children have to see the world as a place that they can explore, a place in which they can sit, or stand, or climb at will. The world, they are learning, is theirs for the taking. Then I thought about what it means to parent a black child, any black child, in similar circumstances. I think of the swiftness with which a black mother would have ushered her child into a seat, with firm looks and not a little a scolding, the implied if unspoken threat of either a grounding or a whupping, if her request were not immediately met with compliance. So much is wrapped up in that moment: a desire to demonstrate that one’s black child is well-behaved, non-threatening, well-trained. Disciplined. I think of the centuries of imminent fear that have shaped and contoured African-American working-class cultures of discipline, the sternness of our mothers’ and grandmothers’ looks, the firmness of the belts and switches applied to our hind parts, the rhythmic, loving, painful scoldings accompanying spankings as if the messages could be imprinted on our bodies with a sure and swift and repetitive show of force.
There are atheists in foxholes. There are atheist in schools and public office. There are atheists everywhere. The more we can normalize the fact that this country is full of people of varying beliefs and non-beliefs, the stronger we are. And if you’re swearing to defend the Constitution, you’re swearing to defend a system that protects all of us, whether you pray or not.

We were lied to. The women of my generation were told that we could ‘have it all’, as long as ‘it all’ was marriage, babies and a career in finance, a cupboard full of beautiful shoes and terminal exhaustion – and even that is only an option if we’re rich, white, straight and well behaved. These perfect lives would necessarily rely on an army of nannies and care-workers, and nobody has yet bothered to ask whether they can have it all.

We can have everything we want as long as what we want is a life spent searching for exhausting work that doesn’t pay enough, shopping for things we don’t need and sticking to a set of social and sexual rules that turn out, once you plough through the layers of trash and adverts, to be as rigid as ever.

As for young men, they were told they lived in a brave new world of economic and sexual opportunity, and if they felt angry or afraid, if they felt constrained or bewildered by contradictory expectations, by the pressure to act masculine, make money, demonstrate dominance and fuck a lot of pretty women while remaining a decent human being, then their distress was the fault of women and minorities. It was these grasping women, these homosexuals and people of colour who had taken away the power and satisfaction that was once their birthright as men. We were taught, all of us, that if we were dissatisfied, it was our fault, or the fault of those closest to us. We were built wrong, somehow. We had failed to adjust. If we showed any sort of distress, we probably needed to be medicated or incarcerated, depending on our social status. There are supposed to be no structural problems, just individual maladaption.

1. Mixing negotiations. Most car shoppers are fixated on the amount they can spend each month for a car, and salespeople know this. It’s their hope that you’ll tip your hand as to what you think an affordable monthly payment will be. Oftentimes, they’ll even ask you what that figure is. Don’t fall into that trap, as a slick salesperson will use that number to pad in as much profit as he can for himself.

2. Marked-Up Financing. Car dealerships might make very little profit on the actual sales price of a new car, so they have to find other streams of revenue like selling used cars and repair and maintenance charges. But one common profit center is to offer in-house financing. What typically happens when you apply for financing through a dealership is that they take your loan application to several lenders to see what interest rates you qualify for. So, if the best interest rate they can find for you is 5%, they’ll come back to you with a rate that’s between 2-4 points higher, skimming that extra interest right off the top and sometimes splitting it with the finance company.

3. The Spot Delivery Scam. Don’t ever take that new car home unless all the financing has been finalized. Some unscrupulous car dealerships use a “ spot delivery scam,” where they allow potential buyers to leave with the car they’ve chosen before financing has been finalized, only to call them up several days later to tell them the loan has fallen through. They then ask for the car to be returned, sometimes threatening repossession.

4. Unneeded Extras. Car dealerships like to add “dealer-installed options” to pad the price of the car, often doing so after a sales price has already been negotiated. This allows them to boost profits by adding things such as rustproofing, paint sealers, fabric protection, and VIN etching (where they scratch the car’s vehicle identification number into the windshield). Together, these add-ons can add hundreds, even thousands, to your bill.

5. Extended Warranties. New car buyers should always say no to extended warranties, which can add between $1,200 and $1,500 to the invoice, as they’re notoriously bad deals. They’re nothing more than a bet you’re making with a third-party on how reliable your car will be, and the odds are not in your favor. Car salesmen push extended warranties because they get a large commission for selling them, up to 50 percent or more.

I remember standing in a dark, cramped room in a military processing center just outside Chicago in the summer of 2003. I was waiting to take the oath of enlistment after signing up to join the Navy. I casually accepted the offer of Missile Technician handed to me by the Navy classifier. The generic and brief job description was overly technical for my liking, as I never considered myself adept at mechanical life – the auto mechanics class in high school was a requirement, but I found absolutely no joy in it. The classifier assuaged my misgivings with a reassuring, “Dude, you get to blow stuff up and see the world.” Sold. Where do I sign?