I Want An Oompa Loompa Now!Posted: July 15, 2011
What is greed? I asked three people that exact question this morning, and each of them included the word money in their response. I used to hear the word greed and immediately think of Gordon Gekko or Leona Helmsley or Scrooge McDuck. We’re trained to call it ambition and perseverance, and under those guises it’s sewn into the fabric of our nation. Some would have us believe that America requires it. We run on it. We wouldn’t exist without it.
By definition, greed is excessive desire, almost in a predatory kind of way. Since we’re capitalists, what we collectively tend to desire most is money. So we’re left with the notion that the only sort of greed is the insatiable appetite for money. But I have found that this isn’t really so. Case in point: what my friend Michelle desires most isn’t money at all. It’s to be loved by any and all men because her father left home when she was four. So she collects men after 3 a.m. like the Arapaho collected scalps at Little Bighorn, which I suppose makes her plight the battle of Little Big Whore. Take Heidi Montag for instance. She was never an ugly girl. But she had enough plastic surgery to open up a god damn spare parts center for IED victims. It’s probably not because she wanted better boobs or thinner eyes. More likely it’s because when she was twelve, some idiot told her she was ugly and she’s spent the rest of her life living like that twelve-year-old girl trying to make other people think she’s pretty. This is what she craves above all else. This is her thing.
Like Michelle and Heidi, we’ve all got our thing that we desire to excess. These things are our greed. For some people, it is multiple things. My friend Rose is a great example. Rose worked at the chop shop with me. She had been there for a year when I arrived, and she was at the top of the heap every month. She made about $35,000 every month. And she was only nineteen years old.
On my first day at the chop shop, a friend who got me the job introduced me to Rose. She was outside the office smoking a cigarette. She looked me up and down. Skinny arms, piercing black eyes, Psychedelic Furs t-shirt, get-the-hell-away-from-me look on her face.
“This business will kill you,” she said. I could tell she dug her tough exterior. She was a young girl in an older man’s business.
“So will that,” I said, pointing to her cigarette.
“This?” she said with a laugh. “This is the last thing that’ll kill me.”
I got to know Rose pretty well over the next eighteen months. We hung out every once in a while on weekends or after work. What I came to learn about her was that she desired everything, though certainly some things more than others. First off, she had a voracious sexual appetite. She slept with at least three guys in our office (not to mention countless others). That accounted for roughly 10% of the staff. She slept with my married office-mate Billy the Vet in her office. It was next to mine, and it went on and on like a high school wrestling match. There were tales of her slut-dom that carried across almost every guy I came to know in the business, ranging from ages eighteen to sixty. She just loved to f-u-c-k. And she’d tell anyone that exact fact.
Rose also loved making money. It was never enough for her. No matter how much she brought in, there was always something she had left on the table, something that drove her into fits for missing this dollar or that. She bought a condo with cash. She drove a brand new BWM 5 series. But it wasn’t about the gadgets and glitter as much as it was about the actual paper money. She bragged about having more than $200,000 in cash stashed away in the condo. It was as if, when growing up with relatively little money, she had seen a movie with a bank robber who threw his plunder into the air and rolled around in a bed of cash, to which she must have screamed out, “That’s it! That’s what I want to be when I grow up!”
And because all good things come in threes (S’mores, BLTs, McDonalds meal deals), she had a third thing: drugs. Getting stoned before work or having a bottle of vodka in her desk or getting hammered at happy hour wasn’t enough for her. She smoked crack. She snorted heroin. She drank GHB. Cocaine was like popping aspirin for her. At any given time, she was on a cocktail of at least two or three drugs. And she’d do anything to stay that way. She ordered her synthetic drugs online. They would come via FedEx to the office. One time, a shipment was delayed by a day. She got a call from security at O’Hare Airport. They were calling as a courtesy. They had her package, they said, and she was welcome to pick it up at any time. She just had to come on down to O’Hare to get it. She was eager to go pick it up. She wanted it, needed it, and nothing was going to get in her way. She reminded me of Veruca Salt from Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory screaming, “I want an Oompa Loompa now!” It took three of us nearly two hours to convince her that it was surely a bust and she shouldn’t go.
After I left the chop shop, I didn’t see or hear from her for a good year or so. She had gone too far over the edge in every regard. I’d heard she found a way to combine the three things she desired most. She slept with people for money and drugs. Once she found a way to get money from that, she stopped working at the chop shop. She went on like this for nearly a year. Then, from what a mutual friend told me, she holed herself up in her condo with a supply of drugs for nearly two months. People would come by and sponge off her, and then one day she stopped letting them in. No one heard from her for nearly a week. Finally, a friend got into her condo and found her dead body in the bathtub, shower still running, plastic curtain collapsed atop her head. She overdosed. She had reportedly spent every dollar she had. And from what my friend said about what the drugs had done to her body, she probably wasn’t having much sex before she went.
This girl could’ve had it all. But when you want something so badly, the it, the thing, becomes the only thing that matters. And instead of you having it, it has you.