Part 1 Episode Notes

This is such a fascinating interview, with a fascinating guest. Rob is from a community that doesn't really exist in the popular imagination: poor, working class, white people living in Cape Cod, who are able to scratch out a living by morphing the Cape into a playground for the rich during the summer.

His life, which is haunted by the fear of April, has taken some pretty interesting twists. One of which is becoming an early member of the newly formed Alphabet Workers Union.

(Find us on IG & TW @whatslefttodo for bonus audio that didn't make the edit)

Part 2 Episode Notes

We pick back up with Yung Rob at Princeton, up through the current day. Now he's a union man! A proud, early member of the Alphabet Workers Union (aka the new union at Google). My man had a lot to say about why he didn't hesitate to join the union.

(tech)Workers of the world, unite!

(Check us out on TW & IG @whatslefttodo for some snippets that didn't make the edit)

Part 1 Transcript

Janelle Jolley  0:03  
Hey, hey and welcome back to What's Left To Do. I'm your host, Janelle. Okay, you're in for a real treat today. I sat down with Rob, who's a young whippersnapper who joined the recently formed Alphabet Workers Union, aka the new union at Google. Part one of his fascinating journey is a look into what life is like for a community that doesn't exist in most people's popular imaginations. That is, the poor working class of Cape Cod that lives in fear of April. We got an esteemed guest today. How did I come to know this gentleman? I'm super glad nobody asked me. Got to know him through a wild hoe named Ben, that I used to live with. He's a dear friend of Ben. Did I aggressively verbally harass today's guest just about every time he was over here during the primary? I did. I rolled up on him like he owed me money. I needed to know about his voter registration status. I needed to know about who- what his voting plan was and who he planned to vote for. He obviously said the right thing, and that's why he's on my couch today. Union strong! Talk to me about your early life.

Rob  1:33  
Yeah, early life. Yeah, young Rob, that's a name I feel like I've carried with me for a while. I don't know exactly why. I feel like maybe it just comes out of being this little dude with just too much energy? And that, like, feeling like I always need to just like, I don't know, mouth off to whoever these- like, just the one level up, either a little bit older or whatever, I feel like I got to just get in there and make mess of it. And so, you know, maybe it was affectionately, maybe it was trying to, you know, keep me in my place. But young Rob was definitely a name that I got early on. But, yeah, so I guess all the way back at the beginning-

Janelle Jolley  2:16  
Like, tell me about your family because, yeah, there's an interesting family story there.

Rob  2:19  
I guess so. Yeah, okay. So I grew up on Cape Cod, Massachusetts, which I think-

Janelle Jolley  2:25  

Rob  2:25  
I know. See? Okay, and that's...that's the part of the story that I feel like I've just been dealing with my whole life? But I didn't realize when I was really young just that, you know, Cape Cod's a place, capital P. Like, people on the East Coast fricking go vibe on the Cape with their vibing money. And so, yeah, so I just kind of grew up in this place, living full time in a place where most people, and most people's imagination of the place, is this summer paradise where they go and they hang out on the beach-

Janelle Jolley  3:05  
They summer, and summer is a verb.

Rob  3:07  
Yeah, summer is a verb.

Janelle Jolley  3:08  
That's correct.

Rob  3:08  
And like, yeah, and so I think that this is a, you know, the fact that I knew of the fact that summer could be a verb, despite not knowing how to do summering as a verb myself, I think was a weird contrast that really defines this upbringing. And so, yeah, my dad's a bartender and he's been in the service industry for his whole life. And my mom was mostly in various different incarnations of service tourism throughout growing up, as well. And so, like, very much, I grew up as the...I don't know, as part of what the behind the scenes that makes the cape the place that people want to, like, you know, to do.

Janelle Jolley  3:53  
Your family made the fantasy of the Cape possible.

Rob  3:55  
Yes, exactly. And I think that that's a lot of, you know- I don't want to take credit as if my family is making the fantasy possible.

Janelle Jolley  4:02  
Sure, sure. No, no. I understood you.

Rob  4:03  
But like, you know, there's a whole...

Janelle Jolley  4:05  
There's a reality to it.

Rob  4:06  
Yes. And that is, for the most part, the people who live there full time. There's, you know, the vast majority of the people I went to, you know, middle and high school with, their families are in service in some capacity or trade work or whatever. And so they're, like, the winter population is very different than the summer population.

Can I ask a question?


Janelle Jolley  4:32  
During the summer, were the permanent population there, do you guys kind of retreat? Like, do you guys leave when-

Rob  4:42  
No, no. Like, that's the thing because, "We the People of Cape Cod." Like, we- the, you know, the interesting relationship that plays out in a lot of, you know, a lot of different places in life, but like, we depend on tourism, to survive.

Janelle Jolley  4:59  
Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Rob  4:59  
And so that summertime is the time that we try to get our piece, you know?

Janelle Jolley  5:07  
Oh, okay.

Rob  5:07  
Everybody comes-

Janelle Jolley  5:08  
Everyone's hussling.

Rob  5:09  
To do their thing, you know. And it is that time that we need to work to get the tips from these people that are coming in and enjoying their vacation. That we are wiping their tables and bringing them their food and kissing their ass, just so that, like, so that hopefully, we can just, you know, get enough from their grace that we can survive through the winter.

Janelle Jolley  5:31  

Rob  5:31  
So really, it's kind of this really just bipolar existence, where the summer is this crazy frenzy of tourist activity all over the place. Like, the town that I grew up in, Eastham. So, you know, Cape Cod, is sort of like an arm. We love having this map of our home that we take around everywhere. And so I'm all the way out on like the forearm. And really, I think as you get farther and farther out on the cape, feels like the bigger the contrast gets between the summer population and the and the winter population.

Janelle Jolley  6:02  
Can you describe what you mean?

Rob  6:03  
In that, like, the population in the winter gets smaller, it gets a little bit cozier. You're farther and farther from, you know, the real part of Massachusetts that actually, you know, is Boston suburbs, and the you know, the South Shore, all of this area where there's shit that feels like normal things. And then as you get farther and farther out, it's more kind of sleepy, there's less going on. And there's less of a reason to be out there unless you're just vacationing, or you happen to be the people who survive based off of the people who vacation out there. And so, yeah, my town has something like, I think the yearround population is 1500 or 2000? It's quite small. But the summer population is over 10,000.

Janelle Jolley  6:52  
Wow, wow, wow.

Rob  6:52  
So it's just this huge, you know, swelling situation, where once again, the summer is this just desperate, you know, running all over the place trying to, you know, just work as hard as everybody can. Because in the winter we won't have this opportunity to really, know, service dies down. Like, most restaurants close all winter long. There are no, you know, water based tourismy things which-

In the dead of winter.

Yeah, in the dead of winter. And so, you know, there's- I mean, so, you know, one crazy side. So when I was younger, my mom's whole dealio was a pirate ship. She had a pirate ship. So like, you know-

Janelle Jolley  7:39  
What, like an actual- like a dead ass ship?

Rob  7:41  
Like a dead ass ship. And so like, yeah. So like, you know, my mom at this point was a small business owner. Like, had this little boat tricked out-

Janelle Jolley  7:52  
How did mama get a boat?

Rob  7:54  
Well, a debt is a good start.

Janelle Jolley  7:58  

Rob  7:58  
And I think part of it was, like...I don't- like, what's the full story? So I was born in Florida.

Janelle Jolley  8:05  

Rob  8:05  
Because my parents were both in the service industry down in Fort Myers and Captiva Island area. Like, they were bartending and shit out there. My mom was doing some other kinds of things, helping out rich boat people doing various things that the rich boat people don't want to pay- or don't want- will pay other people to do for them.

Janelle Jolley  8:28  
Sure, sure, sure.

Rob  8:28  
So like, you know, rich people get their boats built, and then somebody's probably got to go sail them over to them, something like that. My mom grew up in Kennebunkport, Maine. So kind of was similarly around this type of scene, know, like had a similar enough upbringing where there's this contrast. You see that there are the people with all the money and if you kiss their ass well, you can also get by. They will give you enough to, you know- you can earn the right to survive by-

Janelle Jolley  8:56  
From their crumbs.

Rob  8:57  
Yes, from their crumbs. And so my dad was doing seasonal, kind of- he was following the tourist season to be a bartender.

Janelle Jolley  9:07  
Is he also from Maine?

Rob  9:08  
No, he's from...I don't know, all over the place. He's one of 10, a family with all kinds of crazy, they moved around at different points. I think most of our family is in Ohio right now, but really all over the place.

Janelle Jolley  9:17  

Rob  9:17  
But, yeah, my dad was going back and forth following the tourist season in Florida, then coming up to the Cape in the summer when everybody's okay to go north, and then going back down south. I was born and then they were sort of like, "Hey, maybe we should go to a quieter-ish place. And like, you know, following the tourist season and living a, you know, just non stop bartender life is probably not the best way to raise a child."

Janelle Jolley  9:39  

Rob  9:39  
And so then they just switch to the, "We'll do that one season a year and just try to vibe the rest and see if we can hang in there." So my mom first got a job driving a pirate ship that this other guy had. Some dude had this crazy idea to just make these little boats decked out like pirate ships, and then do these like funky little tours for, you know, three to 10 year old kids of the wealthy New Yorkers coming to vacation on the Cape, and give them this whole, you know, wonderful adventure. And then, you know, my mom did that for a while. And then, ultimately, this guy was trying to expand, franchise out the situation and selling pirate ships, with my mom, you know, kind of always having that dream, like, "Oh, maybe one day there will be the thing, I just got to do it, and then I will get the money and I won't have to, you know, again, just live this constant chasing hustle, whatever." That having her own business would be some sort of a, you know, way out of this. And it was, you know, it was cool for a while. We got, you know, it worked. We were able to, for the most part, make it through the winters based off of what we could do in the summer, giving these kids these funky tours. And like, you know, just having this weird little way of siphoning off some of this tourist people money into a pirate-

Janelle Jolley  10:59  
Pirate small business.

Rob  10:59  
Yeah, we were pirates. We're out here, like, literally, we're pirates!

Janelle Jolley  11:03  

Rob  11:04  
And it was a, you know, a whole a whole ass thing. And that was great up until, like, 2008.


Yeah. And so it was right around then that everybody just took, like, a year off of going to the Cape.

Janelle Jolley  11:21  
All the rich people?

Rob  11:22  
I mean, not all the rich people, but like, it was a palpable decrease in the volume over that one summer. Like it was like- and it hit a lot of things. Like it was a, you know, like one- like, I knew many people who had their homes foreclosed on, just in the whole underlying just, you know, whatever-

Janelle Jolley  11:42  
Of the permanent population?

Rob  11:44  
Yeah, of the permanent population.

Janelle Jolley  11:45  
Uh-huh, uh-huh.

Rob  11:45  
And at the same time, the people whose money we relied on to survive there, cut back just enough that-

Janelle Jolley  11:55  
It felt- you felt it.

Rob  11:56  
Yeah, that we felt it.

Janelle Jolley  11:57  

Rob  11:57  
And so, at that moment, the, you know, there was a- this coincided with the landlord of the, you know, the dock that the pirate ship was operating out of realized that we were like, you know, some- we were making enough money to survive. And you know, being a landlord was sort of, like, "Great, I would love some of that." And so, being the only one around like, continued to just jack up the rent until we could, you know, like, hardly still stay there. We had to move to a different dock in a different place around the same time there was-

Janelle Jolley  12:26  
You mean the landlord of where the pirate ship was?

Rob  12:30  

Janelle Jolley  12:30  
Gotcha, gotcha. Okay.

Rob  12:31  
Yeah. Yeah, exactly. Like, you know, landlords can figure out anything to rent to you, including, you know, just the floating wood in the water.

Janelle Jolley  12:40  
Yeah, that's right.

Rob  12:40  
You know, pirates need to do their pirate shit.

Janelle Jolley  12:43  
That's right.

Rob  12:44  
And so, the thread of the story is, you know, really all over the place here.

Janelle Jolley  12:48  
No, no, no, it's all good.  

Rob  12:48  
But, we made the decision at that point to sell the pirate ship. Yeah, it was a huge ass bummer because it was just that one summer of kind of missing it. Not making, you know, not...not having enough to carry us through that next winter that really just threw everything into this crazy uncertainty. And then the next several years, my mom was just kind of hopping around trying to find all of these different, you know, what are odd jobs and different things you can jump on to that will let you-

Janelle Jolley  13:19  
Earn some money.

Rob  12:50  
She tried to become a hairdresser at one point, and that was like a whole thing. Like, you know, took out student loans to go to cosmetology school to try to get that whole thing done.

Janelle Jolley  13:28  
You have to build a book of clients. It's a volume game.

Rob  13:30  
Yeah, exactly. You know, especially when the seasonality really hits every single industry-

Janelle Jolley  13:37  
That's right.

Rob  13:37  
It's so hard to build up something when you only have two and a half months a year when you know that there's enough of a stream of anything to, you know, build up whatever the heck you want to do.

Janelle Jolley  13:48  
Yeah, yeah.

Rob  13:48  
And so there were other times, like, you know, there's a lot of retirees on the Cape, so my mom was trying to do stuff where, you know, she was taking care of, you know, being like an in-home kind of assistant for various elderly folks, or trying to do like, "I'll come to your house and do your hair cut there."

Janelle Jolley  14:04  
Yeah, yeah, yeah.  

Rob  14:05  
Stuff like that. And just subject to the whims of the people who come there to grace us with their presence and their-

Janelle Jolley  14:16  

Rob  14:16  
Yeah, and their riches. And I think that that was a thing that I didn't really register and... like, that I grew up with not entirely registering the significance of the inequality until, you know, until I got a lot older. Like, I was- you know, here I am, you know, similarly in the summer getting to hang out with all the rich kids and play around. Like, I took sailing lessons at this, you know, local little yacht club. Also not really having a great sense of like, "Yacht Club? What the hell?" And, you know, and I did maybe- like, I was aware of the fact that we couldn't...that is was very "a thing" to be able to pay to take these lessons or to do anything like that. Like it was a whole, like, "Oh, I don't know. Like, maybe we can do like two weeks of this," or something like that. Or like, "Yikes, yikes," whatever. And, ultimately, I was able to keep doing this by getting a job teaching sailing. So at this point, I am teaching the kids who come vacation on the Cape. And it just like, ah, I don't know, it's all just kind of this big mess in my head of all of these just different scenes that, in retrospect, I can realize are just pictures of two distinct classes living here. And that the ones that half the people don't see the struggle that is like, you know, April. April on the Cape is when everybody's money runs out. And it's still cold and like, there's no, you know... interesting to know...that the only reason that these people enjoy coming here is because we put on this show for them. But to ultimately not to struggle to even be able to stay there. That the demand for the tourist experience drives up the price of housing, drives up the price of everything else. People are buying second homes-

Janelle Jolley  16:53  

Rob  16:54  
And pricing out the people who do the work to make it their playground.

Janelle Jolley  17:01  

Rob  17:02  
I think that just kind of was something that really infused into my ethos growing up that I slowly started to resent this difference, more and more, as I realized just how different the lives were. Like that, you know, just from the little things of the New York license plates not stopping at the crosswalks. You're just like, "Fuck outta here." You know, you can feel the coming-

Janelle Jolley  17:30  
The imposition.

Rob  17:31  
Yes, the imposition. And that, at the same time, that this is what we dreamed we maybe could be, too.

Janelle Jolley  17:39  

Rob  17:39  
Like it was this same, like, "We got to live alongside the rich in the summer. Yes, we were hustling and, you know, working two jobs and doing all of this thing, but, you know, we got to, for a moment, share that kind of a-"

Janelle Jolley  17:58  
The same rarefied air.

Rob  17:59  
Exactly. Share this rarefied existence. And then...

Janelle Jolley  18:03  
But then it goes away.

Rob  18:04  
And then it goes away.

Janelle Jolley  18:04  
Just that quickly.

Rob  18:05  
Yeah, and then you've got, you know, just depression and all kinds of other shit that comes with that. I mean, there's probably all kinds of just coverage of just like, you know, the frickin like, alcoholism, and, you know, opiate problems that happen in, you know, the South Shore of Massachusetts and the Cape in the winter. And I think a lot of this comes, again, from this really seasonal existence, that is a bummer. And, you know, we...we felt it. And, at the same time, I became aware, also at a young age, because I was a little bit of a nerd, I like to read my math books. And there was kind of this alternative narrative that started to get pushed in my young life, which was they noticed that I liked the math and could add things up okay. They were like, "Oh, you gotta hang on to that. Do that, because that's a thing that will get you out." Like, "This is a ticket," you know? Like, "You have this thing." Whereas, you know, a lot of- there's a lot of people just like that I grew up with that were multiple generations on the Cape.

Janelle Jolley  19:07  

Rob  19:07  
Like, you know, their parents are in service, they end up doing the same thing because it's really easy to kind of just get stuck in that loop.

Janelle Jolley  19:12  

Rob  19:12  
Like, it's similar sort of thing happened to my dad, not in the same exact context, but in, you know, he started in service when he was young as a way to help pay for trying to go to college but ultimately dropped out and stayed in bartending and never really... like never had this kind of alternative path to go do something else. Like, it was sort of like "Okay, well, this is getting me through the shit right now."

Janelle Jolley  19:47  

Rob  19:47  
But there's no path that goes anywhere else out of that. I don't know.

Janelle Jolley  19:52  
As you were growing up as a part of the permanent population on the Cape, do you have any...are there any particular stories, funny little stories or memories that come to mind of everybody hustling in the summer versus, you know, they kicking back and kind of just trying to peace out what they've made. Like, do you have any particularly fond memories or anecdotes about that?

Rob  20:19  
Yeah. I mean...I guess it's the winter memories that stand out a lot more, you know? Like, the summer feels like it was always a bit of a blur. Like, it just happens, it's going nuts, everybody's working, and then it's over. And then you finally have a second to evaluate what happened in the winter. And like, you know, we heated our home with wood. Like, we had a wood stove in the house.

Janelle Jolley  20:44  
No central heating?

Rob  20:46  
We had central heating, but oil is really expensive.

Janelle Jolley  20:49  

Rob  20:50  
And so we- wood was cheaper. There was wood around that we could get. And so, you know, the winter was this kind of really nice arc of, in the fall, my mom would have us all go out and chop and stack the wood. We'd get a giant pile just delivered and, you know, she'd be like, "Good things come to those who work hard. Go stack this wood and I will reward you," and sort of this, sort of-

Janelle Jolley  21:13  
"I will reward you with-"

Rob  21:13  
Yeah, exactly. Will reward you with, yeah, not being fucking freezing cold. And then, you know, that would get later into the winter and the, you know, this is just going longer and longer without any kind of consistent income. At some point, we run out of wood, but usually that's around like April-ish. And usually at that point, not trying to buy more frickin wood.

Janelle Jolley  21:38  

Rob  21:39  
But we still got to heat the house a little bit, because it's still cold. And so then we'd get really resourceful. And like, you know, there's old fences behind the house and shit, or something like that, we'd go take those and chop them up and throw them in there. Like, I remember, I got this one great memory of an old chair that we had that my mom got frustrated at because one of the, you know, it was starting to get all wobbly and falling apart. And she just took it outside and just smashed the shit out of it. And then we burned it and kept us warm, but-

Janelle Jolley  22:07  
When you say, I'm just trying to make sure I'm understanding this correctly, when you say no, or little income during the winter, like, what do you mean? Like, quantify that for me. Is that like, literally no income or just very- like you just- or just odd jobs you can take here and there?

Rob  22:24  
Odd jobs here and there.

Janelle Jolley  22:25  
Okay. So nothing consistent.

Rob  22:26  
Yeah, nothing consistent. I mean, my dad, you know, was fortunate enough to work at restaurants that stayed open in the winter. So he was able to, you know, have some sort of a...something. But there's not nearly as many people going there. Like, the tips are-

Janelle Jolley  22:43  

Rob  22:43  
Mostly just the locals who keep coming into the few local restaurants that are around. And, you know, this- the...obviously, servers don't really make salary that makes any sense. So like, you're only, you know, you're being paid below minimum wage. And it is only through the fact that you get tips that, you know, make up to at least minimum wage where you are allowed to even, you know, get paid so little in that context.

Janelle Jolley  23:12  
This is not an option. Like this wasn't some- this wasn't cute- this was, like, this is in order to survive everyone hustles and make the most of their fucking money during the summer. And then we have to be really precise and stretch it for the rest of the year because that is it.

Rob  23:28  
Yeah. I like, you know, and I don't think I could necessarily- like, I'm not sure that this was the experience that everyone who lives there year round had?

Janelle Jolley  23:36  
Sure, sure, sure.

Rob  23:36  
Like, I know that there's plenty of people who had more consistent-ish jobs, but, you know- or, not -ish, but, you know, like trade work, obviously.

Janelle Jolley  23:44  
Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Rob  23:44  
Like, you know, there are plumbers, etc.

Janelle Jolley  23:46  
Electricians. Sure.

Rob  23:46  
But, yeah, but at the same time, even all of that work swells and then ebbs in the winter.

Janelle Jolley  23:54  
Yeah, yeah. I gotcha. I gotcha.  

Rob  23:55  
The tide rises and falls.

Janelle Jolley  23:57  

Rob  23:57  
We love all them, you know, nice little frigging beachy analogies to understand everything, but-

Janelle Jolley  24:03  
You have the language now and you have an understanding of class difference now, what- how do you think you thought about your family's station as a child? Like, did you have an under- what was your understanding of that as a child?

Rob  24:20  
My understanding at the time had nothing to do with class it was just around like, "We do some cool interesting shit."

Janelle Jolley  24:27  
I gotcha.

Rob  24:28  
And then like, you know, like, "Oh, my dad works nights and that's interesting." And like... yeah, I guess- so there was another interesting or significant piece is that my dad briefly opened a coffee shop. He too kind of wanted to, you know, again, like this dream of being in service, I feel like, is to that, like the up- the thing that you can aim for is maybe one day being the owner.

Janelle Jolley  24:49  
Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Rob  24:49  
That you can have your own thing.

Janelle Jolley  24:50  

Rob  24:50  
And that maybe you would have wouldn't have to do the same grind. You wouldn't be working like, you know, as, you know, you're not selling your labor to someone else.

Janelle Jolley  24:59  

Rob  24:59  
You own your own means of production here, and-

Janelle Jolley  25:02  
However modest.

Rob  25:03  
Yeah, exactly. And so, you know, my mom and dad take out a bunch of loans, try to buy this, you know, little coffee shop that wasn't doing well and wanted to kind of try to transform and say like, "Okay, I can do- this is my dream. I want to have a little coffee shop and finally, you know, get my little piece. Just be able to vibe." It was a nightmare.

Janelle Jolley  25:24  

Rob  25:24  
My dad worked, you know, like 100 hours a week just trying to get this place going.  Busting his ass, wranglin high school kids to try to, you know, be baristas and shit like that.

Janelle Jolley  25:36  

Rob  25:36  
And like, you know, and just the amount of stress that he carried during those five or six years was insane. Like, I hardly knew my dad during this period of time.

Janelle Jolley  25:46  
Wow, wow, wow. How old were you during the coffee shop epoch?

Rob  25:48  
Coffee shop days. The shop days were seven to 12, I want to say? I think I was seven to 12, my sister was like five to 10. And...yeah, we-  

Janelle Jolley  25:57  
Did the coffee shop epoch come during, before or after the pirate ship?

Rob  26:04  
Overlapped a little bit and ended around the same time. I think-

Janelle Jolley  26:08  
Like, 2008?

Rob  26:09  
Yeah. Yeah. I think that that was similarly when- yeah, maybe if I'm doing the math, right- yes, right around there. I think that was when, you know, I'm not sure if it was directly related to that, really? Or if that was just when my dad finally had enough and, you know, frickin got out till the coffee shop- like, you know, net loss.

Janelle Jolley  26:25  
Yeah, yeah.

Rob  26:25  
Did not come out with any fricking- like, you know, we survived during that time.

Janelle Jolley  26:30  

Rob  26:30  
But there was no profit made on this endeavor. There was just a lot of-

Janelle Jolley  26:35  

Rob  26:36  
A lot of sweat and stress and...yeah. I mean, you know, the one pro that I look at at the other side is I feel like, you know, my dad was under so much stress just trying to keep this shit alive, that after he came out of that he was just the most loosey goosey motherfucker in the world. Like a tree, you try to bend it all the way over and, you know, then you finally let it go and it's just like, "Whoa!" So, like, that was pretty cool. But, you know, again, going back to your original question like, "How am I conceiving of this?" is all to say, I'm not thinking about it that way, in any way.

Janelle Jolley  27:07  
You're just- you're a child.

Rob  27:08  
Yeah, I'm a child. I'm vibing here just looking at like, "Wow, we got some hustle going on, on all different sides." I'm not really psyched about what it does for my dad, because he's grumpy. Like, you know, I end up spending a lot of time just sitting in this coffee shop late at night as he's trying to sweep up and do all this shit and count the money and like, whatever. And then I'm just sort of like, "Can you stop that? Can we just like frickin go home at this point? Like, why do we-"

Janelle Jolley  27:08  
Can we just chill?

Rob  27:08  
Yeah, just chill. "Like, why can't we- I don't know, do you have to go into the shop in the morning too? Do you have to close it and open it, and then close it again, and open it again?" And, like, I know, you know, so like, I can feel that it's stressful and that it's a bummer and that my parents are stressed about money. I think this is one thing that my mom, you know, when we've talked since, she's a little bit like, "Damn it, I let that bleed through a little bit too much to y'all, that financial anxiety was something that you guys could feel." And, you know, she's like, "I wish I had done a better job of not letting you feel that." But...that's hard. That's just what it is.

Janelle Jolley  28:14  

Rob  28:14  
Like, it's hard not to notice that that's what's going on when it has this lurching, you know, rhythm.

Janelle Jolley  28:23  
Yeah, yeah.  

Rob  28:24  
Like, it's one thing to be in a constant state of low level, you know, whatever. But when you can really feel the difference between like, "Okay, the summer's doing all right," and then we get to May and then just the, you know, the steam runs out and it becomes this like, "Oh, shit. Alright, we just got to make it through this month. And then...hopefully we'll get it up going again. And then we'll make it."

Janelle Jolley  28:44  
Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Rob  28:44  
But, again, just that-

Janelle Jolley  28:47  
How do you- and you can tell me to fuck off if I'm getting too close to your business. But, do you- how do you think your experience of...your experience of your parents relationship with money and, you know, hustling to have it, have enough of it to take care of you guys, themselves, blah, blah, blah. How do you think that you internalized that, A.? B. If so...if so, how? Like, how does that-

Rob  29:20  
A. No fucking doubt. Like, yes. And like, I think that that was another thing that kind of affected, you know, going back to that point about, "Oh, I realize I had this math thing and could grind on that." And that was, you know, a thing, which was, I think, a way that I internalized and redirected this kind of shit. Is like, I can perceive that there is stress, that we are worried about things, and I think from a young age I internalized that as like, "Okay, well, I need to take care of myself and make sure I'm not an additional burden here. I want to try to make sure that I can take care of myself, that my parents don't have to worry about any of that shit. I'm just gonna sit over here and read a book." Like, "Dad, you frickin take care of the coffee shop. I can tell you're stressed. I'm just gonna read this book over here," and, you know, both as like a, "I am avoiding this and not trying to deal with it," and also like, "Hey, maybe this will be my ticket out one day because I read a book real hard." Yeah.  And so, I think that, again, there was this idea that I'm on a mission to make my family not have to stress this much. And I don't know how much I consciously felt it that at the time. But that's what I look at now. Like, that is what young brain was actually feeling was like, "I need to go grind because this is wack. And maybe there's a chance that we won't have to grind in this same way." If, you know, again, like buying the meritocracy thing. Being like, "Yeah, all I got to do is just work the right amount of hard." And like, same thing with my mom. She was constantly like, "You know, I just gotta find that thing, then we're gonna finally be rich. That's it." Like, "You know, maybe it's this pirate ship, maybe some other shit." You know, after the pirate ship, there was this whole phase of several frickin, you know, multi level marketing kind of things.

Janelle Jolley  31:07  
Sure, sure.  

Rob  31:08  
Like, just all of these like, "We just need that thing."

Janelle Jolley  31:11  
Just that one thing.

Rob  31:12  
That one thing.

Janelle Jolley  31:12  
Just that one come up. Mm-hm.

Rob  31:14  
Yeah. And I'm sort of like, "Mom, that's dumb as hell. Stop. Don't fucking do it." And she's like, "No, look at this. Look at these stories. These people, fuckin' made it."

Janelle Jolley  31:22  
Right, right, right.

Rob  31:23  
She's like, "This is what I want to be when I grow up. I'm gonna be this."

Janelle Jolley  31:26  
Yeah, yeah, yeah.  

Rob  31:26  
My mom would say that a lot. She's like, "I still don't know what I want to be when I grow up." And I'm just like, "Mom, what the hell are you talking about?"

Janelle Jolley  31:34  
That's so interesting.

Rob  31:35  
But, yeah, so I think, you know, story just continues as me being Mr. Nerd Man. And then getting-

Janelle Jolley  31:45  
But can I- let's park right here for a second, Mr. Nerd Man.

Rob  31:49  

Janelle Jolley  31:49  
As a child was- did you have it as your explicit conscious or subconscious goal to, quote, make it out? Like, what did that mean to you as a child? Like, explain your- try and explain your thinking from that time.

Rob  32:07  
Yeah, definitely. I think, "Make it out," was a phrase that did exist in my consciousness. I feel like, in some way.

Janelle Jolley  32:17  
And what did that mean to you?

Rob  32:19  
It, it's interesting. Yeah. It's almost like, it's like I knew that that was the goal. I don't know exactly what it meant other than like, "Don't be here." Like, be in a- like, that there exists a way of life that doesn't feel this lurchy and that has...I mean, be on the other side, I guess. Like, be the ones who vacation on the Cape. Like, to dream of getting to a point where you don't clean up after them. Like, you don't...I don't know. Like, I guess-

Janelle Jolley  32:52  
Can I...walk with me here.

Rob  32:53  
I'm walking, I'm walking.

Janelle Jolley  32:57  
Or, we'll walk together here. Did getting out, do you think that as a child, as a youngster, getting out, quote unquote, to you meant stability?



Rob  33:09  
Stability. Comfort.

Janelle Jolley  33:11  

Rob  33:12  
Leisure! Yeah, exactly!

Janelle Jolley  33:14  
Did it mean happiness? A happiness that you weren't able to experience in your current kind of, like-

Rob  33:21  
Yeah, like a happiness that comes from the absence of stress. Like, that that was the happiness that I feel like- it's like, it's not like we didn't...we weren't happy?

Right, right, right. Yeah, you could smile. Even in April, when things were super tight.

Right, right. Exactly. Like, you know, we're just doing our due. But, that, like, the thing... yeah, was not have to worry about what April's gonna feel like.

Janelle Jolley  33:51  
Gotcha. So getting out meant to you, like one way of saying that is, getting out meant, like, "At any point in the year, I am free of worry about how I'm going to get through this point."

Rob  34:05  
Right. Right.

Janelle Jolley  34:05  

Rob  34:05  
Exactly. Exactly.  

Janelle Jolley  34:06  
That's understandable.

Rob  34:07  
And I'm not the one putting the team on my back here. I'm just child vibing and I feel like it's almost like, "I'm holding my breath I'm going over here I can feel that this is a stressful time I'm gonna just be in my room with my book."

Janelle Jolley  34:21  

Rob  34:21  
And, you know what? That's cool. Are- okay, you know what, we just-

Janelle Jolley  34:24  
Try and weather this and not be as visible not add to the stress.

Rob  34:28  
Right, right. We gotta cream tuna fish. That was a good dinner that just came-

Janelle Jolley  34:33  
What is cream tuna fish?

Rob  34:34  
It's just, you know-

Janelle Jolley  34:36  
Like tuna fish salad?

Rob  34:37  
Yeah, yeah. Kinda like we got tuna in a can and then you just add some milk or some shit to it and put it over bread. And it was just like, "Bird up." April tastes like cream tuna fish.

Janelle Jolley  34:48  
Huh. Is that why you're so into food now?

Rob  34:52  
I think that was something that when I got to college, I realized just how not varied my food experience growing up was. Both because, you know, we're know, both because we're not going out to dinner very much. If we do, there's the local pizza spot, or something like that. You know, most of the cuisine was a lot of spaghetti and meatballs. Like, we got a lot of that kind of shit and...and very little diversity around the area. Like, that's the other thing. You know, this is WASPy New England. Like, this is a really pretty homogenous community and there's very little just diversity in the food that was available in restaurants and- like you know, seafood was there.

Janelle Jolley  35:40  

Rob  35:40  
Ironically, I hated seafood growing up. I was like, "Fish? This is gross. I don't get it." And then I don't- like, now I love fish. But like, I think I just had no concept at the time even that this was the desirable thing, that people loved to come here and get the fresh seafood, and I'm like, "Oh, Jesus, I'm not so sure about that."

Janelle Jolley  35:56  

Rob  35:56  
Not that we were necessarily, you know, vibing on lobster all the time, unless my mom was wheeling and dealing trading with the fishermen, and shit like that. Being like, "Oh, we got a bunch of extra life jackets over here. If you want some extra life jackets that we don't need, I'll trade you for, you know, a couple pounds of lobster."

Janelle Jolley  36:11  

Rob  36:11  
Or something like that. Or like a peck basket of oysters and, like, you know, that was some funky stuff we got into at some different point. I have no idea what the original thread of what we were currently talking about was, but-

Janelle Jolley  36:21  
Your food.

Rob  36:22  
Oh, yeah, the food! Yeah, that was it. Yeah, yeah. So yeah, I guess a little aside, is that now I absolutely love food. I'm just exploring all this different food that I never knew existed. Like, I had never had Indian food until I went to college. And like, that was wild! That was so exciting. I was just like, "Holy fucking- spices? God damn!" Like, "This is some other shit!" Like-

Janelle Jolley  36:51  
Rob! Wow.

Rob  36:52  
I don't know. And just like-

Janelle Jolley  36:54  
He goes, "Spices!" Ah, that's so funny, because it's so true. WASPs don't do spice.

Rob  37:03  
They just don't.

Janelle Jolley  37:04  
They do not.

Rob  37:05  
Just do not! And so that was a...yeah, mind boggling. And now, I just keep, you know, it's just a thing that I-

Janelle Jolley  37:15  
You've been turned out.

Rob  37:16  
Yes, I've been turned- yes, exactly.

Janelle Jolley  37:17  
Okay. What was your understanding as a child of your parents dream for you? Or aspirations for you? You understand what I'm saying? Like-

Rob  37:27  
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. I got, I think, a lot of verbal like, "You do whatever you want. It's all great." Like, there's definitely a lot of this...I felt- at least, I internalized pressure to make use of this...nerd situation. Whatever- like, I don't know. Like, yes, I had an aptitude for math and I could feel...or, I internalized pressure to pursue that as the thing that would make my parents proud, given that they did not... seemingly have access to a career path that was...I don't know. Like, knowledge work. This, like, white collary-

Janelle Jolley  38:13  
Like, professional.

Rob  38:13  
Yeah, like professional, whatever. Like, that...that these were aspects of different class that one could, you know, one could...maybe I feel it as- I feel it most profoundly when I was like, 16 or something, and started smoking weed? Like, I got in some fights with my mom about this, when it comes out at one point. And I think that was when I really felt that- because she was so worried that I was going to throw it away. That it was like, I have this chance to go study and end up in a different position, but that, you know, if I just start being a frickin stoner-ass mother fucker that I might just blow it all, and then end up in the exact same position, and just be like- and I think, I don't know, like I, you know, I don't want to friggin psychoanalyze my mom. But I imagine there's some fear that, you know, she could have also had some shot. And same for my dad. Oh, like, may- and it was getting into the restaurant business, or whatever, and kind of, you know, the fun nightlife vibe that you can do and make some money at the time, that this is all going to pull you away and miss your shot at going somewhere else.

Janelle Jolley  39:29  
Do you think that was your parents' story? I mean, not that you can speak for them and not that you have to, but do you think that was your parents' story- for either or both of them, that like, "We got to a fork in the road because, you know, we had a particular talent or aptitude or interest that, had we," fill in the blank, "had we pursued it more doggedly, had we been encouraged more, had we had the resources to more, I could be looking at a different life." Or, like, but- or, I start- and I'm not trying to say your parents did this, but, you know, "But I got kind of into, you know, nightlife and, you know, having fun and not super serious about things. And this is why we've ended up here." Like, do you think that that's part of their story?

Rob  40:12  
I think something like that. Like, I don't- I definitely think that that is a, at least in the same thematic realm.

Janelle Jolley  40:20  

Rob  40:21  
You know? And I think know, my mom got an associate's degree in graphic design. I think that there was an idea there that she was maybe going to go in, you know, in that that's the thing that has, like professional...

Janelle Jolley  40:34  

Rob  40:35  
Yeah, exactly. And, similarly, my dad was, you know, he- his whole thing is like, his dad made him go to the Air Force Academy because he got in. And my dad just wanted to, you know, he just wanted to be a journalist. YHe wanted to go to Penn State and be a journalist and write about sports. He loves sports. He was also really good at math, could keep all these fucking sports stats and shit like that.

Janelle Jolley  40:56  
Yeah, yeah yeah.

Rob  40:56  
And that's what we wanted to do. His dad was like, "No, you're going to the Air Force Academy, cuz that's- they'll pay for it for you and it's prestigious."

Janelle Jolley  41:03  
Oh! Mm-hm.  

Rob  41:04  
Yeah, and my dad was like, "Fuckin', that's stupid as hell."

Janelle Jolley  41:07  
But he did it.

Rob  41:07  
But he had- yeah, he did. Because that was what he did. And then he, you know, his favorite line is, "Hardest thing he ever did was get kicked out of the Air Force Academy." And did before the two years when he would be, you know, required to do the service, or whatever. And so that was the initial just kind of totally derailing this whole situation and starting off on the wrong thing. Then he tried to go back to school at Ohio State for a hot second. And, again, was pursuing journalism, wanted to do that but was, you know, started bartending to kind of help pay through, you know, pay for that and all- you know, whatever the- and, yeah, and then just kind of ended up on that path.

Janelle Jolley  41:07  

Rob  41:47  
And, you know, stopped doing the college thing. It was a pain in the ass, there was all kinds of different just little institutional gripes that he ran into, where, like, he wanted to do this Spanish class. And then they were like, "Well, it turns out two thirds of the way through this semester, you don't have the prerequisites. So you're not gonna get any credit for this, even though you're doing fine here."

Janelle Jolley  42:03  
Sure, sure, sure.

Rob  42:03  
And he was like, "This is bullshit. I hate the man."

Janelle Jolley  42:05  

Rob  42:05  
And I am instead going to be a bartender, and I got my sports trivia, and that makes me good tips.

Janelle Jolley  42:11  

Rob  42:11  
So, you know, he vibed that, and then 40 years later, we're- this is where we're at. And so I think, you know, there's at least some sense that there was a fork at one point.

Janelle Jolley  42:23  

Rob  42:23  
And they took the fork that didn't go, you know- in that, like, you know, I will also one day run into this fork, and that there's a chance that I could go the other side of the fork, and that that would lead to some sort of a...I don't know, better life in some sense. It all kinds of feels like cliche and abstract.

Janelle Jolley  42:44  
2008, like, the crash, the Great Recession? How did you understand that time? What was that like for you? And how did it shape you?

Rob  42:53  
2008 was much more significant than 2001. Like, guys, like, 911 was less the defining event.

Janelle Jolley  43:01  

Rob  43:02  
Like, you know, public con- the collective consciousness event was 2008. And I think that that-

Janelle Jolley  43:10  
How old were you at that point?

Rob  43:11  
I was 13.

Janelle Jolley  43:13  
Okay. So you were a very early teenager during that time.

Rob  43:17  
Yeah. And I think that that was sort of my political awakening at that moment. Like, it was suddenly just seeing, like, seeing the dots connect in a little bit.

Janelle Jolley  43:29  
Tell me what you mean by that.

Rob  43:30  
Where I could see, "Oh, shit. There's some stuff on the news about this." You know, like, "Oh." I guess, seeing like, "Oh, our neighbors down the road just had to leave because their house was foreclosed on. And our- we are hurting now a lot more and our business did not do well because people vacationed less. And there's this thing called the stock market that people seem to care about, and it's not doing great, but I have no idea- like, I could give two shits. It just seems like, it seems like somehow this nonsense over here is actually affecting us." And I'm just sort of like, "How in the hell does that, you know, happen?" And just, you know, like see to the next year that people, they keep coming back and they're still vacation- like...that the impact for the people that we depended on was that they took a little bit of a break from their vacation. And the impact on us was that, like, we are scrambling.

Janelle Jolley  43:51  

Rob  43:54  
And I think that that was really...I don't know. You know, it echoes here right now. It's the same thing. Like, here is a economic crisis that the owners- well, not not even the, you know, I guess there's a whole nother point about, you know, the differences in the class distinctions here where there's, like, surely there's tons of variation within the 99 percent here.

Janelle Jolley  45:01  
Yeah, yeah.

Rob  45:01  
But, and so, like, I guess in this case I'm talking more about the, you know, the ones that we were encountering were probably more just the upper middle class, rather than the owners.

Janelle Jolley  45:14  
Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Rob  45:15  
And yeah, just to see the way in which this event affected everyone, but us worse. And just like, feeling the lack of the cushion underneath. Feeling that like, "Damn, it looks like some hooligans out there were wildin' out on some fucking dumb shit. And, like, and now we are not having a good time."

Janelle Jolley  45:49  
Yeah, yeah.

Rob  45:50  
And it's just sort of like-

Janelle Jolley  45:51  

Rob  45:52  
Yeah, like, you know, frickin, you know, give me some collateralized debt obligation, whatever the hell that sh- you know, give me some nonsense stock mumbo jumbo. And, you know, turns out you fucked it. And now, you know, then we see that they get bailed out.

Janelle Jolley  46:14  

Rob  46:14  
Great! Like, I don't know. I feel like-

Janelle Jolley  46:16  
Did you understand that though, at 13?

Rob  46:18  
Not entirely, but that's when I started to put it together. Like, that's when I started to look at it and be like, "Wait a second, this is fucked right up." Like, I think I had no sense of any of this more macro sort of things, or even really a great understanding of class. Or, there was such stark inequality as a structural phenomenon, like beyond what my personal experience was.

Janelle Jolley  46:43  

Rob  46:43  
Knowing that there's the people who go back to Connecticut in the winter. And then there's the ones that are us.

Janelle Jolley  46:48  
Yeah. So it's not- so is it- am I understanding you correctly, that you didn't necessarily understand all the wonky specifics, but you knew generally that this shit is fucked up. Something's really wrong, and it's fucked up.

Rob  47:01  
Right. And putting together that there is wonky mumbo jumbo that has absolutely nothing to do with us.

Janelle Jolley  47:08  
But it's still coming to affect us.

Rob  47:09  
But it's still affecting us. Like, just sort of being like...just starting to see this shit that it's like, "Wait, why are we here right now? What was it that caused this?"

Janelle Jolley  47:19  

Rob  47:19  
Like, "What in the hell?"

Janelle Jolley  47:21  

Rob  47:22  
And then just kind of starting to radicalize myself via books and just trying to be like, "Let me understand what on earth is going on here." The word communist entered, you know, my vocabulary and I sought the manifesto. Like, you know, I feel like beginning as a contrarian and ending as a comrade. And just sort of, like, maybe less the reading of any one individual thing, but more of a change in my perspective when consuming the information that I did consume.

Janelle Jolley  47:52  
I gotchu.  

Rob  47:52  
Like, you know, in school, we read about feudalism and shit like this. And I'm just starting to sort of draw connections there, where I'm just sort of like, "Hmm. That is an interesting system that we seem to have all collectively agreed is whack as hell, and yet I feel like it sounds familiar. And I'm not sure. Hmm, that's curious." And just, you know, and then just having this really abstract idea that like, "Well, it seems like these people over here are pitching this idea that there could be a society where we're all just vibing."

Janelle Jolley  47:53  

Rob  47:57  
And I'm just sort of, you know, again, I have no, you know, I'm not, at this point, not well versed in theory in any kind of way.

Janelle Jolley  48:39  

Rob  48:40  
I'm not really seeing how it all comes together. But I'm starting to believe that there is a world that could be. That people talk about this thing where it's not like this. And that's cool.

Janelle Jolley  48:52  

Rob  48:52  
And yet, we seem to insist that we should- this other thing is better. I mean, maybe it was, like, growing to hate them. It was like-

Janelle Jolley  49:02  
Hate or resent, or both?

Rob  49:03  
Resent, resent, resent.  You're right.

Janelle Jolley  49:05  
No, no, no. We can use the "h" word if that's approproate.  

Rob  49:08  
I mean, I...I guess now I have matured to the point of resentment.

Janelle Jolley  49:12  

Rob  49:12  
Maybe hated them for a bit.

Janelle Jolley  49:13  
Sure. That's fine.

Rob  49:14  
Yeah. Like, you know, there's definitely some 16 year old anger when it really starts to kind of come together that like, "Wow, this fuckin', like-"

Janelle Jolley  49:22  
Right. "We went through some bullshit."

Rob  49:23  
Yeah, that it is...that it is literally at our expense that this is possible.

Janelle Jolley  49:28  

Rob  49:29  
That like- and, you know, and just slowly starting to put together that it is the extraction of the value that the workers are providing that lets this happen.

Janelle Jolley  49:39  

Rob  49:39  
Sort of being it really- like, you know, okay, this idea of grinding out and getting to being rich, does that just mean that you figure out how to extract the value from other people that you stop having your value extracted, and you become an extractor?

Janelle Jolley  49:55  

Rob  49:55  
And I was just sort of like, "That doesn't seem great."  I don't like this zero sum mentality where, you know, if you want, you got to get it. You know, that we're all fighting each other for this limited chance to actually be vibing. And that, you know, in fact, this is the only way to do it, because there's not enough vibes for everybody. And so you got to fight for your vibe. You know-

Janelle Jolley  50:22  
We're gonna- I want everyone to Control F "vibe" for resource, that's listening to this. But, go ahead. I like vibing. But you- was it at that point, did you- post 2008, through this nascent sort of political awakening that you were having in your teens as a result. At that point, did you completely cease the desire to become the people you had to serve for your survival? Or was there just a tension around that?

Rob  51:06  
I think it was just tension. And actually, so the thing is, at this point, I actually think I was rejecting the idea of pursuing a professional career as a-

Janelle Jolley  51:18  

Rob  51:19  
And that I wanted to be a scientist.

Janelle Jolley  51:21  

Rob  51:21  
Like, I think I was just sort of like, "I like my math but, actually, I don't buy into this grind and I want to just do something I think is good, in and of itself." And like that, you know, "People keep telling me that I can make a lot of money doing my math, or whatever. But like, that's- I just want to do something that I feel good about, and that I can survive on." And like, I remember, you know, making a- I think I made some ridiculous statemen at some point. Maybe it was senior year of high school or something, when I was just like, "I would take a deal right now where if somebody said I would be guaranteed to have housing forever, that I would just work and do research forever." Maybe this was actually in freshman year of college, I think. Like, I started to look at some flies under microscopes and shit and thought, "Oo, shit. This is cool." And just sort of like- but also, then coming to realize, like, "Wait a second, actually, just going to research also is a fucking grind."

Janelle Jolley  52:13  
Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Rob  52:14  
It's a lot of work and not that much money. And kind of, again, realizing that the types of people who have access to doing these things, which don't pay that much, often are people who already have the money.

Janelle Jolley  52:26  
Yeah, yeah.

Rob  52:27  
And maybe we're getting to this point, too, is like, you know, I feel like in college, this accelerates a lot. Like, my understanding of this difference. And, like-

Janelle Jolley  52:39  
Were you the only person from your area that got into an Ivy?

Rob  52:45  
No. So actually, it was interesting. Our year had a couple, which was like a big surprise. It was, you know, just me and two people from my class went to Harvard. And that was crazy.

Janelle Jolley  52:59  

Rob  52:59  
Yeah! And that was- like, that...not super heard of for-

Janelle Jolley  53:04  
Where else did you apply?

Rob  53:06  
That was actually the only place because I applied early, and I got in.  

Janelle Jolley  53:09  
Shut the fuck up. You only applied to one college, which was Princeton, and you got in? You didn't apply to, like, UMass?

Rob  53:15  
Well, I would have- like, that was here's the deal. Well, one, applying early meant that, you know, that it was- this was early decision sort of situation.

Janelle Jolley  53:25  
Yeah, but it's early decision, you know, in one of the ivoriest of ivory towers.

Rob  53:32  
True. So I had, you know, my apps prepped for everywhere else. Like, you know, it's not like I'm here, just being like, "Yeah, this is my only move." But there was this sense too, like, here's this other feeling that's going on the whole time is like, "I've got two options here. Either I get into an ivy that has enough financial aid that I can, that they can, in fact, make it so that I don't have massive loans to go there. Or, I go to my state school where I can get great scholarships." That I was, you know, that there's this whole grind or whatever leading up to, trying to get into a good college that would, again, be the next ticket to the next thing and, you know, build that fake ass stack of pedigree shit that lets you do the rest of the shit.

Janelle Jolley  54:14  

Rob  54:15  
And that there was a massive chance that I could theoretically have an opportunity but not be able to afford it. And, you know, that there are a number of amazing colleges but a very small number that give you all the financial aid you need. And so I think that was kind of the thing that was in my head there was like, "I either get this or I don't."

Janelle Jolley  54:43  
Who- were your parents able to shepherd you through this period and strategy? Who helped you with this?

Rob  54:49  
This was...this was mostly just my own move, I think.

Janelle Jolley  54:54  
Like, your own research and kind of-

Rob  54:55  
Yeah, yeah. Like, I was the- you know, it was, like, throughout all of high school I feel like I had been- you know, again, this is the sort of thing that's in the back of my mind that like, "Okay, I gotta...this is the thing, this is what I'm working for." And so I'm researching colleges and shit like that and being like, "Okay, wow, there are- you know, these few have financial-" actually, you know, one of the big things that pointed me to Princeton as the place to look was they had the single best financial aid that was available. And it was-

Janelle Jolley  55:21  
For low income students?

Rob  55:22  
Yes, yeah. And so it was like-

Janelle Jolley  55:23  
And you qualified?

Rob  55:23  
Yeah. Like, were I to get in, I would have the whole- like, they would cover everything, essentially.

Janelle Jolley  55:30  
Oh wow.

Rob  55:31  
And so that was the dream, was like, "If I can get this, it's going'll happen," you know? And so it was- that was the- that was the Hail Mary shot, I think.

Janelle Jolley  55:43  
Sure. Did you get into Princeton on a combo of grades and test scores? Or does one outweigh the other? Or was it both?

Rob  55:49  
I mean, I think it was, like... I think my grades were solid, my test scores were solid. I think the thing that, if I had to guess, the thing that did it was that I was doing all this math on the side and sent in this packet of all my math shit that I mailed and was like, "Hey, I do math. You think that that's cool?" And I think- I mean, that's what I imagine- cuz I don't think my test scores or other shit was good. But, you know, my application probably got read after lunch and people were feeling jazzed and they gave me a shot. Like, you know? It was, you know, the whole- like, I don't credit...hard work may be necessary, but it's certainly not sufficient. And clearly, it's also sometimes depending on where you're born, not necessary. So it's like- it's, you know, it's almost- like, it's largely orthogonal here.

Janelle Jolley  56:35  
Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Rob  56:38  
And...but all that is to say that, like, won the lottery here. Like, it happened. And I just remember too, that moment is seared into my head. My, you know, my parents had been divorced for like, 13 years at that point. And my dad came over to my mom's house that afternoon, when we knew that decisions were coming out. We had an exchange student from Brazil was staying with us because, you know, also great way to supplement income a little bit, hosting an exchange student. Had a nice little situation there. And we were all sitting around the couch, my sister, my parents and our exchange student, and we opened that shit, and just- it was...and we just freaked out.

Janelle Jolley  57:17  

Rob  57:18  

Janelle Jolley  57:18  
How happy were your parents?

Rob  57:18  
Like, it was just, like, crying.

Janelle Jolley  57:20  

Rob  57:21  
Like, everybody was just crying. And, yeah, I'm almost tearing up thinking about it, because it's just like...I don't know, it's ridiculous. Like, I'm almost angry, too, looking back.

Janelle Jolley  57:31  
No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, don't do that. Don't do that.

Rob  57:34  
No, no, not nangry at any of the moment, but angry at how profound that was. You know, angry at the world that makes it that profound. Angry at the fact that there could be so much tied up in this, like, fairly arbitrary, you know, thing.

Janelle Jolley  57:52  
I see, I see.

Rob  57:52  
Where it's like, you know, yeah. And that it was upon, you know, leaving and getting there that I just felt...what was, like, you know, like a...I don't want to say class transition in that moment, but sort of like that. Yeah. Like, at the very least, I became- I transitioned to living among a different set of people. And I felt like I almost immediately felt guilt at the same time.

Janelle Jolley  58:23  
No! At the time?

Rob  58:23  
Yeah! In that, it was this, like, "Oh my God, this actually does mean, I'm gonna..." like, it almost felt like it was like, "Now I'm going to the other side," almost. Which was so we- like, and it's just, I don't know, it's interesting now to even just try to unpack this live right here.

Janelle Jolley  58:42  
Yeah. Sure.  

Rob  58:42  
Is that it feels like, you know, that that was a part of it. That, like, almost internalizing this righteous struggle so much. And then to achieve this thing, which was such an indicator of what I had, you know, been coming to understand is a different class. Like, it felt like it was this weird thing, where it's like, the whole goal this whole time is to get here. And now to be here is to leave behind what I...and like, and I feel like that's a conflict that I've,'s dissonance, you know? And it's dissonance that I held on to and still hold on to.

Janelle Jolley  59:19  
Of course you do.  

Rob  59:19  
And, you know, and there's- it's- there's so many layers of this strange guilt, too? Where it's like, I am guilt- I feel guilty that, you know, that I got lucky to have had things play out in this way and- and get to feel like I have agency in it, that I am doing something for myself, that, you know, that there's this coexistence with the fact that I am lucky to be in a position where I feel like there is a correlation between what I am working for and what I am getting. You know? And that, like...and then it's almost like this meta guilt over feeling guilty about it?

Janelle Jolley  1:00:01  
Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Rob  1:00:02  
That it's like, again, just shut up and appreciate it, man.

Janelle Jolley  1:00:04  
No, but it's not easy.

Rob  1:00:06  
Yeah. And, I don't know,  it's a- it's- especially just with- just general, I feel like I have a pattern of just this very metacognitive thought, thinking about how I'm thinking about things and thinking that I'd like to think about that I'm thinking about things. And then, you know, and then it just really manifests in this, too, where I'm just sort of like, "Oh shit. Well, I feel weird about that, but I even feel weird about feeling weird about it." And I feel weird about trying to talk to people about the fact that I feel weird about this because it's a strange, you know, it's like I feel self conscious to bring this up as my conflict because of the fact that, again, one of the literal results here is that this financial anxiety subsided.

Janelle Jolley  1:00:53  
So how does young Rob fare at Princeton and beyond? Surely that's what you're asking yourself. Well tune in for part two, where we learn more about his journey from Princeton to unionized tech worker.

Part 2 Transcript

Janelle Jolley  0:06  
Welcome back to What's Left To Do. I'm your host, Janelle. Let's pick back up with young Rob and his evolution into becoming a union man. The guilt that you felt after seeing that you had been accepted to Princeton on a full ride, or near full ride. Was it that...did you feel that there was a possibility that you would- you would have to separate yourself from whence you came? Be it via proximity, via, you know, like, mentally, culturally? Did you feel that you were...that that acceptance necessarily meant a separation in order to fully inhabit that acceptance?

Rob  1:01  
Yeah. I think so, in some way. That, at the very least, I feel like when I first got there my freshman year, I almost felt...I felt differently about that whole, like, I'm- like, that there were- I experimented with not throwing the caveat after like, "I'm from the Cape." Letting people believe it and just sort of being like, "Okay, I guess I can kind of pass if I just say that." I do know what the, you know-

Janelle Jolley  1:27  
I know what they mean by that.

Rob  1:28  
I know what they mean by that. And I could, you know, I can I guess I can talk the talk. I do know that summer is a verb for y'all. So, you know. And maybe even you know- like, I would see sometimes people with, you know, sweatshirt- like, Cape Cod sweatshirts and stuff like that. Which, you know, I wouldn't be caught dead wearing a Cape Cod sweatshirt becausae that is just tourist shit.

Janelle Jolley  1:39  
Yeah, that's right.

Rob  1:49  
But it's just almost this is like, "Oh yeah, I like that, too. Like, I'm from there actually." Like, "Oh, no way! My parents have a-" like, you know, "Oh, we have a house in wherever." And it's just my initial experience there. And I went and I joined the sailing team because I had-

Janelle Jolley  2:02  

Rob  2:03  
Yeah, crazy. Like, I mean, I had this, you know, once again, strange misconceptions about the world growing up on the coast. Like, our high school had a sailing team. We were fortunate enough that somehow somebody at some point donated boats to the school. And like, we were able to, without- like, just as a school, as a sport, just go frickin sail. And it was what I did in the summer, like giving lessons to make money along with, you know, bussing tables and everything else, and really learned to love the sport as a thing. Like, you know, racing sailboats was a really cool thing. And I think maybe I was into the image there, where it's sort of like, "I get to cosplay as the rich people when I raced the boats, and then I beat their ass." Like, it was just sort of, like I just was really into this fact that I ended up pretty good at sailing. And that sometimes beat them and then just be like, "Fuckin', hell yeah." Exactly. Like, I'm sticking it to you over here. Like, I'm just, you know, friggin young Rob, like, you know, like, you know-

Janelle Jolley  3:11  
Still shaking my fist.

Rob  3:12  
Yeah, exactly! And just, I feel a little bit of that carried through and I was like, "Well, yeah, obviously, I'm gonna keep sailing in college. This is great." And like, "Oh!" I'm sort of like, "Well, it's seems kind of similar. Like, there's this whole-" but, whoa! Was was- turn it up to 11. Like, whatever contrast and weird shit that I felt like on the Cape doing that whole thing, kind of like, you know, the little underdog situation. Princeton's sailing team? That's the real...

Janelle Jolley  3:37  

Rob  3:38  
Yeah, there were a lot of people who join the fuckin- like, you know. And it's a lot less about the sport of racing sailboats. It's about the fact that you get to say that you're on the Princeton sailing team. And I don't think I had any real, like... took me a while to put together all of the complexity that was in that. And the number of people who just come and have never fuckin sailed boat before, but are just like, "I'd join the sailing team. That sounds like it's good social capital."

Janelle Jolley  3:59  

Rob  4:00  
And it's just like, you know, that freshman year, how different I- like I tried, you know, like, I leaned in for a second and tried to see if I could fit in, in this environment. So one time, we- like, you know, the Columbia sailing team was coming over for a little, you know, kind of, you know, scrimmage, match sort of thing. We're hosting them on campus. They were just crashing with us for the night and then we were gonna go sail the next day. And so they were like, "Oh, let's do something." You know, we gotta do something with the team. You know, the pitch was like, "Oh, let's all go out to Thai Village." And, you know, "We'll rent the room upstairs." And, you know, "Okay, how about everybody pitch 25 bucks and we can get this thing." And I was like, "Oh guys, come on. Like, we- how about, like, we've done this before we can get a room in the dining hall. And like, we've got plenty of guests, you know, guests who- we can get everybody in, it'll be great. We'll have our own thing. And we'll just like, you know, let's just vibe there. We've done that before." And they're like, "Don't be silly. They're in town and we want to do a thing." And I'm just sort of like, "Yeah, but I- like- we've already paid for the meal plan that's already there. Like, I'd rather not go out," you know?

Janelle Jolley  4:02  
Why spend the additional money when we could do the same thing for free?

Rob  4:57  
Exactly, exactly. And it's like, you know, I have my financial obligation to the school was my summer earnings, essentially. So it's just like, I didn't really have to take out loans to do anything, and my parents weren't expected to contribute, but I was expected to come up with some, like, $3,500 every summer, or something like that. And so I would work through the summer and make, you know, maybe a couple, you know, a couple thousand dollars busting my ass, frickin bussing tables and things. Half of it would go to the school and the rest would be what I would try to make-

Janelle Jolley  5:45  

Rob  5:45  
Yeah, just make it you know, last through the year. And I didn't want to fuckin spend $25 on Thai Village just to fuck around and like, you know, whatever. And I thought that it would be understandable- like that the idea that I wouldn't want to, you know, that that could be something I would care about not spending my money on.

Janelle Jolley  6:05  

Rob  6:06  
Couldn't be understood. That I was almost shouted down as if it was ridiculous.

Janelle Jolley  6:10  
Because to them, it was no thing.

Rob  6:12  
Yeah, it was just like, "What do you mean?"

Janelle Jolley  6:14  

Rob  6:14  
"Come on, you fuckin'- like, what? We're gonna do the dining hall?" And I'm like, "Yeah!"

Janelle Jolley  6:17  

Rob  6:18  
Like, that's what I-

Janelle Jolley  6:19  
Where I ? it's not like it's, you know, it's not like a-  

Rob  6:21  
Yeah, exactly. It's just like, we're all- yeah. We're all, you know, we all have the dining hall. Like, that's what, you know, it's not terrible.

Janelle Jolley  6:30  

Rob  6:30  
And I realized in that moment, just how distinct those experiences were. That these- like, that my classmates had. That they weren't malicious in this moment.

Janelle Jolley  6:44  

Rob  6:44  
But they literally lacked understanding of the fact that that could be significant.

Janelle Jolley  6:49  
Right. For someone in a different situation.

Rob  6:51  
Right. And I think that that was just like,"Whoa." I can't cosplay that. You know, I can, you know, I can, wear a vest.

Janelle Jolley  7:02  

Rob  7:02  
You know? Like, I can try- I can comb my hair to the side or some shit, but like, I don't know how to forget what money means.

Janelle Jolley  7:12  

Rob  7:13  
And that I think was, like, started to make me feel more isolated from that. And I really leaned into studies freshman year. I grinded my ass off. And it was just- and then I burned the hell out. I was like, "I hate this."

Janelle Jolley  7:30  
After your freshman year?

Rob  7:31  
Yeah, pretty much. I was- like, I mean, I worked in a lab over the summer, and I was interested in all that shit, but I just ran out of gas. It was sort of like, I tried to do the same thing, which was like, first try to see if I can fit in. Realize I'm not super fitting in with this social vibe. So I'm like, "Well, what do I know? I can grind. I know how to grind." And then I ran out of grind juice. And I was just like, "Fuck. Now what?" And then, you know, my sophomore fall, I was just depressed as hell because I felt like it was like, "Okay, I made it here, but...fucking now what? This is miserable." And then ultimately, you know, the thing that sort of saved me was finding, you know, this community of like minded-ish people. You know, there's- Princeton has this whole crazy eating club-

Janelle Jolley  8:14  
I was about to ask you about that. One of my home girls went to Princeton and she also came from a, you know, humble background and, you know, got into Princeton, and like, it was, you know...class expectations were very different. And like, the supper clubs are 10-20 grand a year, and she's just like, "And the food wasn't even good so no, like, all my friends were trying to, you know, we're joining supper clubs and would- and I kind of was on the outs because I refuse to join one." Cuz she didn't- she wasn't- she didn't- she wasn't gonna- how was she going to come up with twenty grand for this?

Rob  8:45  
Right. Yeah. And so I ultimately, like, I did join one of them, the alt, you know, frickin, artsy stoner disaffected, you know, weirdo club. And I-

Janelle Jolley  8:58  
How much did that one cost?

Rob  9:01  
I think at the time, it was some, like, $8,300 a year, which is insane. And, granted, the school increased your financial aid junior and senior year to try to offset this difference. It still left some, like, $1,500 or $2,000 that I had to, would have had to come up with in between. And so I was like, "I can't really do that." But I desperate for some sort of a community and these people seem to recognize that this place is a shithole. And they're all like, you know- and so I was sort of, like, "If I end up becoming an officer of this club, I get free housing and that offsets everything and I actually end up net positive."

Janelle Jolley  9:42  
Oh, okay.

Rob  9:42  
And so it was sort of like, "Alright, I got two options. Either I go independent and do my own vibe or I go full send on this shit and try to carve out a niche for myself and maybe ultimately, you know, run this shit, get free housing and come out- and, you know, find some- I don't know- just find something!"

Janelle Jolley  9:59  
Yeah, work my angle.

Rob  10:00  
Yeah, work my angle there. And that ended up, you know, coming to fruition and all of my fellow officers pretty much were in similar backgrounds. It was like this weird thing where- like, it was like this-

Janelle Jolley  10:14  
Working class?

Rob  10:15  
Ah, these are the- these are the work- this is the working class revolt against the thing. And it was really funny because the club wasn't necessarily all working class people.

Janelle Jolley  10:22  

Rob  10:22  
There were plenty of this, like, very particular vibe. You know, it's like the rich leftists.

Janelle Jolley  10:28  
Yeah, yeah, yeah.  

Rob  10:29  
Like the, you know-

Janelle Jolley  10:30  

Rob  10:31  
Yeah, exactly. Where, you know, you- your parents probably- like, you probably, you know, they've got some nice professional job, or whatever, and you grew up not worrying about any of this thing, but you did realize the inequality of this stuff. And then you started to care about it. And that, you know, in no way are your beliefs illegitimate, but you have a different set of experiences that lead to this.

Janelle Jolley  10:49  
Yeah, yeah. You don't feel it the same way.

Rob  10:50  
And it's like, ultimately, you are the one that is funding my shit, right now, so that's great, cuz your family can afford to be here. So, cool. And I'm just gonna, like, once again, it was weird, because it's like the vibe ended up almost being like the service industry once again. In that, like, here's a club where the things that we are administering are a place where meals are served, we're trying to keep that organization running. And then we would have parties on the weekends where we'd have live music there, and shit like that. So we're essentially running a nightclub, was more or less what we were doing there. And it was this weird thing where I was like, "Oh, my god, this is- like, this feels like my roots now!" Like, I'm over here running the, you know, whatever. And I talked to my dad about that a lot. We connected over this kind of thing that he's like, "Yeah, it's freaking crazy, right?" And then it was weird because I felt like I was able to live- like, that was my both sides situation where I was like, "I am-" like, I don't know. It was cool. Yeah, I don't know how to make more profound conclusions about that. Other than like, it was a neat, you know, echo.

Janelle Jolley  11:50  
When you first got to Princeton, what was the first thing that scandalized you? Like, you know, how sometimes, you know what I mean?

Rob  11:57  
Oh yeah. I know exactly what it is. And it was, actually, one of the orientation speeches that infuriated me. Which was...and I know why they felt they needed to do it. I think that the line they used was, "We don't make mistakes. You all deserve to be here." And it was just like, you know, okay, imposter syndrome? Very real. Like, it's a thing. People, you know, it's a pressure cooker. There's a lot of, you know, everybody's fucking going nuts. Like, you know, mental health was in the garbage for most of all the people I knew there. And like- so, yeah. Very valid thing that they want to combat. But the way that it came out, I felt like it was like, "No, this is a lie."

Janelle Jolley  12:44  

Rob  12:44  
Like, because they were like, "We don't make mistakes. Every single one of you are the ones we wanted to be here," and stuff like that. And I'm like, "Okay. But I don't think that's nearly as important a message as like, there are so many others that could be here. And we all need to be so thankful for this position that we have this enormous privilege to be here. And now we should make the most of it," or something like that. Like, that was the message that I would have wanted to hear upon getting there, was like, "Yes, this is awesome. And we've all worked hard, but you know what's really important to remember is just kind of how arbitrary this whole situation is." The institution is complicit in this feeling. Like, they are doing nothing to combat the entitlement that so many of the people here have.

Janelle Jolley  13:29  
But what could they do? That's why they exist.

Rob  13:32  
Right, right. Exactly. And like, you know, what is the thing that Princeton has done better than any other school? They have a massive donation machine.

Janelle Jolley  13:39  

Rob  13:39  
That, like, they have the highest alumni giving rate of any school because they just work ya.

Janelle Jolley  13:45  

Rob  13:45  
And, you know, and they also have one of the highest, you know, legacy admin rates.

Janelle Jolley  13:51  
Yep, yep.  

Rob  13:51  
And it's just like, "Well."

Janelle Jolley  13:52  

Rob  13:53  
And, you know, similarly they just have a whole year round giant staff dedicated to putting together an annual reunions. Like, capital "R" reunions.

Janelle Jolley  14:03  
Yep, yep ,yep.  

Rob  14:05  
Surpassed the Indy 500 as the largest single beer order in the United States.

Janelle Jolley  14:09  
I believe it.

Rob  14:10  
And it's just like-

Janelle Jolley  14:11  
But you weren't seduced by that even a little bit? Like, this- like, I can remake myself, I can be reborn and I don't have to be young Rob anymore from the Cape. I can be rich Rob from here on out. Like, that wasn't even-

Rob  14:25  
I tried it for a hot second.

Janelle Jolley  14:26  
Just during freshman year?

Rob  14:27  
Yeah, pretty much. And then it was like, "That's disgusting. I can't do this."

Janelle Jolley  14:30  
But when you tried it, what did that mean for you? Like, what- how did you try and- what was your- what was your change in affect, or behavior, or posture?

Rob  14:39  
I mean, it was just not questioning the shit that I felt like I would have been questioning. Like, the things that I was constantly like, "What the hell? What is this? What is that?What are you doing?" Like, just turning that off for a second and then just like-

Janelle Jolley  14:50  
Going with the flow.

Rob  14:50  
Going with the flow. And just listening to people's conversations when they just talk about their vacations and their whatever and shit like that. And understanding that there's this whole New York socialite world and that all of these people already know each other, and all this shit. They know all the names of these high schools cuz it matters to people. And just sort of being like, "Okay, well." And then when they ask me like, "Oh, I'm from Cape Cod," and they're like, "Oh, that's cool." And I'm just like, "Cool, I passed," right?

Janelle Jolley  15:16  
What was your fear? Like, is it just- was it sheer- like, was it pure social ostracisa- god, that's a hard word to get. Ostritiz-

Rob  15:26  
Ostrich. Ostricification.

Janelle Jolley  15:27  
Thank you.

Rob  15:29  

Janelle Jolley  15:30  
Was that your fear? Or something- or, like...just interpersonal meanness? Like, what was this driving-

Rob  15:36  
A little of everything.

Janelle Jolley  15:37  

Rob  15:37  
Like, I think it was just sort of like...I mean, just this deep seated belief that ultimately, if they- like, that I just wasn't...that there's a difference, almost. That, like, that there is some fundamental difference, which of course, you know, your class upbringing is pretty fundamental.

Janelle Jolley  16:00  

Rob  16:00  
But that that is such a thing that it is actually impossible to bridge in some way. That I ultimately would never be accepted in the same way. I guess.

Janelle Jolley  16:11  
I see.

Rob  16:11  
And that, and like, I think part of it too, is, you know, again, there's this dissonance going on in my head of like, "Do I want to be that? Like, I don't know." Like, I was now starting to worry, like, "Wow, I guess to be convincing is to really abandon what I feel like is-"

Janelle Jolley  16:27  

Rob  16:28  
You know? And just sort decide to care about things that I didn't seem to want to care about. Like this financing, consulting, just driving so much of everybody's everything.

Janelle Jolley  16:40  

Rob  16:40  
And many of these eating pubs just being ways of getting your network. Learning networking as a verb and just being like, "What the hell is this? Is this what this is?" And just sort of being like, "This is bullshit. None of this has to do with being the best students at anything. This is just such a garbage act, that everybody's just-" I don't know. And it just...I feel like it was...I don't know, the curtain was pulled back a little bit. And I felt like, "Yeah, everybody here is smart. People are working hard." That's not not true. But it's not any more profoundly more true than it is true in so many other places.

Janelle Jolley  17:23  
Is there one particular instance that comes to mind of the curtain being pulled back from- you know, like, you got there, orientation was- you heard that, you know, egregious message like, "We don't make mistakes. Everyone here belongs here. This is who we wanted here." It was like, "Whoa, excuse me, what?" And then it was like, you had a period of, you know, trying to, you know, trying to become of Princeton, be a Princeton man. But in- but while you're doing this, trying to just fly under the radar, in a way that, you know, would lend people to believe that, you know, you do belong there. Like, what- what was the- what happened, or what were the series of events that happened, where you were just like, "Oh, that's actually not important to me."

Rob  18:14  
You know, I just leaned in harder to studies instead. It was just sort of being like, "Wow. It seems like it's either this or you just ignore it and work hard. And I guess, I only know the work part. So I'll keep doing that." I got to the point where I was just like, "What would I want out of the-" Like, I don't know, maybe part of it was just literally like, "I don't even know what you guys are talking about. I don't know what your goal is here. You all seem to know what you're doing. And have this idea of, like, that there are things- steps that you take that get you places, and I have no idea what you're talking about." And just sort of, you know, like, "Oh, you know these people, you talk to them." And like, "Oh, this, you know, we can go to this and talk to these people." And like, "Oh, yeah, you know, that company, and that company?" I'm like, "I have no idea what any of this shit is." Just like household name things?

Janelle Jolley  19:03  

Rob  19:04  
I don't know. Like, it's all just kind of this big blur in my head of just all of these words and attitudes and behaviors that I wasn't familiar with.

Janelle Jolley  19:12  
Was it completely immaterial or completely material? Like, were they talking about abstract-

Rob  19:18  
It could be both at the same time, I feel like. Like, it's simultaneously material and immaterial that, like you're pursuing this, these structures that are associated with material wealth, but ultimately have nothing but wealth and status as the goal in and of themselves.

Janelle Jolley  19:34  

Rob  19:35  
There is no goal that I could perceive. It seemed like the goal itself was just to preserve the thing. Like, just continue to-

Janelle Jolley  19:42  
Preserve and reproduce-

Rob  19:43  
Right, preserve and reproduce this class that had their own silly concerns.

Janelle Jolley  19:50  
And you didn't view that as a worthy endeavor because?

Rob  19:55  
Because it felt wrong. Because it wasn't fair. All of these resources are going to your just, like, ego.

Janelle Jolley  20:08  

Rob  20:08  
And all of this- and just to be like..."That handbag you got could have fucking like, you know, made, you know, March April and May a lot warmer for me."

Janelle Jolley  20:22  

Rob  20:22  
You know?

Janelle Jolley  20:23  
Mm-hm, mm-hm.

Rob  20:23  
Just, you know, little shit like that. And just to be like, "You have no idea, do you?" Just-

Janelle Jolley  20:31  
You have no idea what...what the things you take for granted?

Rob  20:36  

Janelle Jolley  20:36  
Or the things that you covet, what that means materially for people who are not like you?

Rob  20:43  

Janelle Jolley  20:43  
Like, my Aprils would not have been so tough with- not even that bag, like the handle to that bag.

Rob  20:54  
Right, right. Exactly, yeah.

Janelle Jolley  20:56  
And you don't- and you have no idea about that, you have no concept, and you don't care.

Rob  21:00  
And you don't seem interested at all.

Janelle Jolley  21:01  

Rob  21:02  
Yeah. And I think it was just sort of like, "Uh, that's not me." Like, I can't not be...I don't know. Like, I can't not care.  

Janelle Jolley  21:09  
You can't- you can't leave- you can't leave that.

Rob  21:09  
Right. And like, that was just sort of the, almost, again, what felt like a secondary fork almost was like, "Am I really in this position where I have to choose either I go here and I abandon everything, or...or I still- or-" Almost like, "Or is my alternative, I go back where I came from?" almost, you know?

Janelle Jolley  21:29  
What did you study at Princeton?

Rob  21:31  
So I started out studying physics, and was- again, because I was like, "Science is great!" And then physics was- then I got, you know, burnt out. And I realized that I liked computer science that I was doing in the process of working on physics. I was working in a physics lab, and I was working on the code that they were using to analyze these images of the fruit flies that we were shooting lasers at to figure out how they're early pattern development would go. You know, good old science, old shit.

Janelle Jolley  21:54  
Sure, sure, sure.

Rob  21:55  
And then I think- it was almost like- I feel like I caved in a little bit, almost. Like, there was a certain thing where I'm just like, "Okay. Well, turns out I'm good at computer science." And I do know that this has - like, I'm now very aware of the way in which this leads to a- that financial instability is involved here. And that I've run out of juice. I don't want to stay in the academy. I feel like it's not...I don't know. Like, I don't feel as comfortable vibing here indefinitely, as I imagined I would. I's not just all, you know, just the books, and we get to do the books. It's like this whole weird world. And it was just sort of like, "Okay. You know what? The best thing I can do is just get some of this financial independence and go and see what I can do to help take some of this burden off of-" Or just- and maybe I think the thing that I dreamed of being was the backstop. This idea that, like, I could feel comfortable, my parents could feel comfortable. That  knowing that somebody in the family would be able...that there was a bottom. That we knew that we would not end up in a sufficiently dire situation, because there was something-

Janelle Jolley  23:04  
There was a floor underneath.

Rob  23:05  
Yeah, exactly. And I talked to my sister about this a lot too, because, you know, she's in college here in the in the city.

Janelle Jolley  23:10  
Oh! Here?

Rob  23:11  

Janelle Jolley  23:11  
Oh, okay!

Rob  23:12  
That was part of why I came out here, I think. Yeah, she was going to University of San Francisco with tons of loans.

Janelle Jolley  23:20  

Rob  23:20  
And is just sort of, you know, slowly- like, started, you know, kind of as time going on, panicking more and more about this accumulation of debt and the inability to take the type of risk that one-

Janelle Jolley  23:34  

Rob  23:34  
Like, just sort of being like, "I can't do an unpaid internship to try to get experienced doing this shit." Like, how on earth would it- like, you know. Or if I- I can't just not know what my career is going to be and just start trying to rent an apartment? Like, I got two months before it's just fucking game over.

Janelle Jolley  23:51  

Rob  23:51  
Like, what happens?

Janelle Jolley  23:53  

Rob  23:53  
And I think that like...I mean, my sister and I have just done a lot of sitting and crying about this together, which is, you know, being here now and having- like, being a software engineer, and having this...just, cushion is like...I mean, it''s something else. Just to realize, like, for my sister to have that feeling of like, "Oh my god." This is what- the difference between these, you know, friends of hers from wealthier families that can take these sort of risks knowing that, you know, if they fuck it up-

Janelle Jolley  24:30  
They're gonna be okay.

Rob  24:32  
They go back to, you know, mom's house and they recuperate.

Janelle Jolley  24:35  

Rob  24:35  
And, you know, and then they go do something else, or whatever. And just...I think that knowing- like, getting to that thing was just so crazy. To have the experience of knowing...that you're not going to end up homeless if you take a risk and not- and it doesn't pay off. And so I think that that's-

Janelle Jolley  24:52  
Cuz I got your back.

Rob  24:53  
Yeah, exactly. Exactly.

Janelle Jolley  24:55  
And I can- I'm the backstop. So you came- and after you came to that conclusion in terms of switching your major, maybe just a little while after that, you then- you became an officer in the alt-y supper club.

Rob  25:08  

Janelle Jolley  25:08  
And did that make the difference in terms of your social experience at Princeton?

Rob  25:13  

Janelle Jolley  25:13  

Rob  25:13  

Janelle Jolley  25:14  
That saved your experience?

Rob  25:15  
Saved the entire thing. And, again, I think leaning into a leftist politic really was part of that. That, like, there was a union of the working class, like people who gravitated here because they recognize the way that it felt like it was just, you know, like, it was a rejection of this thing, which we didn't fit into. Along with these people who came from similar backgrounds, but ultimately, you know, kind of took a, you know, a structural look at it and was like, "This is kind of wack. I think, you know, I can recognize the way that this institution is crazy. And I'm interested in finding people who feel similarly about it."

Janelle Jolley  25:15  
I see.

Rob  25:16  
And want to use the position that we have ended up and to do something better with it, I guess.

Janelle Jolley  26:01  

Rob  26:02  
And I think that was another interesting thing, too, though, is that, like...I feel like the wealthier people in this same club, were a lot more likely to go into lower paying and more-

Janelle Jolley  26:15  

Rob  26:16  
Yeah, altruistic things. Like, you know, like going into- like going into teaching and going into, you know, nonprofit work, and stuff like that.

Janelle Jolley  26:22  
Because they could afford to.

Rob  26:23  
Because they could afford to do that. And, you know, that was another interesting, weird little tension, is being like, "Oh shit, now I'm choosing- now, like, what do I- now in this community, I am actually pursuing money."

Janelle Jolley  26:36  
Yeah, yeah.

Rob  26:37  
In a weird way. And just sort of then trying to be like, "Okay, let's..."

Janelle Jolley  26:41  
Let's take a breath. Let's take a step back.

Rob  26:42  
Let's take a breath and be like, "Okay. I have reasons for doing the things that I am doing and these are valid."

Janelle Jolley  26:43  
That's right. I have my whole family on my back.

Rob  26:50  
Yeah, exactly. And like, and whether or not I ultimately- you know, that, like, I don't know, that I don't need to feel bad about that.

Janelle Jolley  26:59  

Rob  27:00  
I don't need to...whatever.

Janelle Jolley  27:01  
Ultimately, you're still worker.

Rob  27:03  
Yeah, exactly! That, I think, is something that I- you know, and maybe we're getting in a...I don't know, this is great, you know, the conversation is moving forward, closer and closer to the present.

Janelle Jolley  27:03  

Rob  27:06  
But I feel like it's something I think about a lot, is the difference between the working, you know, the working class as- the working class as understood, generally. That is, like, I feel like something I'm more associated with my upbringing, and, you know, just the service industry, etc. Like, you know, essential workers as, you know, one class among many. And then, the workers writ large.

Janelle Jolley  27:41  

Rob  27:41  
Like, those are the other of the two classes being the workers and the owners. And I think that that was something that sort of, is part of it, is I can- you know, there's two...there's several ways of understanding the position that I'm in right now. And that to, like... yes, there has been class transition. I am in a spot that is just, you know, materially very diff- like, huge privilege to have landed in the position that I'm in. But that ultimately, that does not invalidate my solidarity with the workers writ large. That doesn't invalidate my background. It doesn't invalidate the principles that I care about. Because, ultimately, there is a larger sense of the class that is the... I don't know, where the real conflict of our economic system lies, I feel like.

Janelle Jolley  27:41  

Rob  27:42  
The things between which the real tension exists.

Janelle Jolley  28:42  

Rob  28:42  
And I feel like, you know, a lot of that was almost internalizing this intra worker conflict that is such a great tool of the owners to, you know, to distract from all of the real injustice, which is not even necessarily the individuals at Princeton that I was running into. It's not the case that all of them were the children of the owners.

Janelle Jolley  29:06  

Rob  29:06  
They were almost themselves victims of this same overall structure in which-

Janelle Jolley  29:12  
Say more, tell me more.

Rob  29:12  
The upper, like, I feel like part of what it feels like to be, you know, a Google worker, which is like, "You are paid to shut up about the, you know, the inequality that's here."

Janelle Jolley  29:21  

Rob  29:22  
Like, "We will pay you well enough and make you feel like you deserve this so that you take our side, and you will defend the system because you earned it." And, like, it's the same thing that Princeton tells you, like, "You deserve this. We don't make mistakes." And it is that reinforcement of, you know, that again, takes the focus away from the real conflict that's there. And that, like-

Janelle Jolley  29:45  
What is the real conflict? Or what are some of the conflicts?

Rob  29:48  
That fundamentally-

Janelle Jolley  29:49  
Uh- oh, he 'bout to drop! He 'bout to do it!

Rob  29:54  
That fundamentally, you must sell your labor for the privilege to survive. That we live in an economic system that is defined by coercion on threat of death. This threat is not felt as poignantly by a large fraction of society. But that ultimately, that is what is driving the, you know, the structures themselves.

Janelle Jolley  30:16  

Rob  30:16  
And that you can't, you know, that the meritocratic myth, you know, again, is not...

Janelle Jolley  30:31  
So, let me understand it. You don't believe that with enough hard work, grit, sacrifice, that, you know, you're going to, you're going to be the next Sergey? You're going to be the Sergey of your generation?

Rob  30:47  
Jesus, hell. Like, I mean, it's just like, well, you know, there's a couple of angles on that thing. Which is, one, I don't want to be. Like, you know-

Janelle Jolley  30:58  
You don't want to be a billionaire? Not even a good one?

Rob  31:00  
I don't want to be a millionaire, I want to be free from the burden of feeling like I must continue to sell my labor to survive. Like, the thing that I, and that I believe most people, would want out of wealth is the freedom to not worry about what April's gonna feel like.

Janelle Jolley  31:23  
Ah! Help us! I felt that. Oo, I got chills down my back.

Rob  31:27  
What's mind blowing is that you hold people down enough that they dream desperately of this wealth that would let them escape this system, and that you convince them that they could have, it that being free is possible, that this work could get you to that point where you no longer have to do it. And I think this same dream, you know, is what led my mom and dad each to try their own business. Like, you know, this idea that there is a chance. And did not workout for either of them, you know? And...yeah. And, again, even just that they were able to try it is an enormous privilege. Like to have gotten, you know, to have been stable enough momentarily, to be able to get loans from banks to be able to do all of these things. Like, all of that is already winning, you know, countless lotteries of existence there to be in that position. And that, even still, it doesn't matter. That no amount of hard work on the part of my dad, you know-

Janelle Jolley  32:36  
He couldn't have worked harder.

Rob  32:37  
Yeah, exactly. He literally could not have without fucking, you know, hadding a heart attack. "Hadding," yeah, that's a good word. Yeah, "having had," I guess. That's- maybe I'm-

Janelle Jolley  32:47  
Or hadding.

Rob  32:50  
Yeah, look at, that's probably a new one, too. Anyway, um, yeah.

Janelle Jolley  32:56  
Through the end of your college career and when you're about to go out and start working in your career as an engineer, describe your understanding of politics, or what your politic was that you had arrived at going into your working career. You kind of already did, but just do it again.

Rob  33:21  
Yeah. So my first job out of college was at a crypto blockchain startup.

Janelle Jolley  33:27  
Oh god.

Rob  33:28  
So fascinating. And I know, I was drawn to that a little bit as, you know, an alternative. Again, like that- here this presented this opportunity to use my set of skills to, you know, be on the other side- to, you know, decentralization as a goal. Being, you know, fundamentally, you know, sort of equivalent to democratization. Like, this idea of, like, "Wow, this is maybe an opportunity to create something where there are not these hierarchies baked into the way that the system must function." And so I guess, in general, I'm here being grumpy at the system, but not entirely sure how- but, you know, kind of almost receding back a little bit to this point of like, "Okay, first things first, I just need to take care of myself and get to the stability so that I don't have to-" like, you know, "I can't think about what one would do to make change this system, if I'm still worrying about what April's gonna feel like," you know? Again, that just, you know... being the analogy driving this. And then this kind of, you know, opportunity felt like it was like, "Oo! Maybe I get to do a little bit of both." Like, "I'll do this and then I'll also kind of, you able to be financially stable while trying to fight the man in some capacity." That was a- whew! It was, fucking, a wild ride because it turns out that it was really weird split of just these crazy libertarians, and like- like, they were like, you know, I reject a horseshoe theory in general. But in this case, there was some interesting overlap between these crazy lefties wanting to use blockchains to build these, you know, almost like you know, syndicates. This kind of, you know, these, you know...

Janelle Jolley  35:23  

Rob  35:23  
Yeah, anarchist. Like, digital anarchist structures that could be alternatives to states providing, you know, these basic guarantees that one would want out of a state. And at the same time there are these libertarians that are like, "Get the government out of here! I'm gonna fuckin wile out whatever I want! No regulation, this is crazy!" And then just being like, "Buying a Bitcoin, I'm going to frickin Puerto Rico, no capital gains tax, I am getting the heck out of here and I got my freakin cash money, going to the moon, baby!" Just like...that was wild. Just to see this coexistence of like, there are definitely some people here who I'm vibing with and a whole bunch of others who are just like, "Yeah, there's money overe here!" It was just like, "Damn, okay, that's a ride!" And then the whole thing is like, you know, it felt like a burning ship a little bit.

Janelle Jolley  35:24  

Rob  35:24  
And then around that time a recruiter from Google reached out and I was, at that point- like, at first I was sort of rejecting the idea that I would ever go work- like, when I was in college, I was like, "Big tech? Fuck that shit. I ain't doing it. I don't want to be in some sort of a strict hierarchy like that. I don't believe in what those things are doing, anyway. This is not good. I want to do something where I do blah, blah, blah." Anyway, and then at that point, I was like, "I'm fried. This is insane. You're offering me structure and stability, I will take it."

Janelle Jolley  36:36  
"I'll take it."

Rob  36:36  
And that's how I ended up here. And, you know, my position is in SRE, so it was, again- like, all these little things that I feel like I'm like, "Okay, well, at least I'm not doing that." Like this entire time I'm political insofar as I'm following politics. I am engaged. I am watching. I am angry.

Janelle Jolley  36:54  

Rob  36:54  
But I am not doing that much.

Janelle Jolley  36:57  

Rob  36:57  
And, you know, like, I guess-

Janelle Jolley  36:58  
But you're aware.

Rob  36:59  
I'm aware. And, you know, all the way back in high school I was like, I did some canvassing for Elizabeth Warren's, you know, original senate campaign. Like, I was- there was little things that I was involved in. I knew I cared about these ideas and things. But again, I had not found any kind of a place where I felt like I was doing something about it. And, again, just sort of, you know, of course, that adds to the general dissonance in my brain. But getting to Google, I'm realizing that most of my coworkers similarly do not come from similar backgrounds.

Janelle Jolley  37:27  
That's correct.

Rob  37:27  
They- like, a lot of these people, you know, there's some comment that somebody made, which was, you know, some sort of investment something advice, where they're like, just this offhand little bit that was just like, "You know, most tech workers are not as wealthy as their parents," you know? Like, there's this- and I was just sort of like...

Janelle Jolley  37:31  
"Bitch, not my family! what are you talking about?"

Rob  37:47  
Right. And it's just sort of, to hear that said as a casual, like, "Well, so obviously, you know, here's one way that you can strategize your shit by relating to what your parents are having." And I'm just like, "Is that really true?"

Janelle Jolley  37:59  
Yeah, right.

Rob  38:00  
I feel baffled-

Janelle Jolley  38:01  

Rob  38:02  
By this sudden, you know, situation and I'm like, "How could it possibly be the case-"

Janelle Jolley  38:06  

Rob  38:07  
That, you know, being a young...just a young professional in this industry, that you are not making- that you do not conceive of this as some sort of stupid, you know, like- I don't- you know what I mean? Like, that it's like-

Janelle Jolley  38:24  
Dumb luck? Like, come up.

Rob  38:25  
Yeah, that you see it as like, "Well, I'm just on the way. Here's the first step. I keep going-"  whereas I'm like, "Jesus, hell! What- is this really- like, what is happening over here?"

Janelle Jolley  38:36  
Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Rob  38:36  
It's like, you know, I remember just conversations with my manager, when it's like, you know, you have some sort of salary conversation, and he'd tell you, "Okay, here's the thing." And I'm just sitting there being like, "Are you serious?"

Janelle Jolley  38:46  
Yeah. You want to give all that to me?

Rob  38:49  
Right, right! And just sort of seeing his reaction and just being like, "Haha, yeah." It's like,"Wow, you feel awkward about the fact that I feel awkward about this?" Like, this is all blowing my mind.

Janelle Jolley  39:00  

Rob  39:01  
Like, just to be- to see you not be floored by this is making me floored!

Janelle Jolley  39:06  
Yeah. There is a union effort being organized at Google, it's flying under the radar enough to not be thwarted before it is started. And you are approached, or you're in discussions with, or however that happened. What- tell me what your thinking is when evaluating whether or not to become a part of this effort. Like, how were you thinking about this? How were you looking at it? How did you reason it?

Rob  39:35  
I mean, for me, it was, like, as soon as I heard about it, it was, like, "Yes, sign me up. I'm signing the card right now. "

Janelle Jolley  39:41  
Not- no concern-

No thought.

Just like, "Yep, we doin' it."

Rob  39:44  
I mean, I knew that this was something I cared about in the abstract. That, you know, I had been in touch with some people who- similarly expressing this frustration. Like, I am slowly again finding that subset of the community of my co workers that seemed to have some similar set of experiences and care similarly. And I think, you know, a union in the abstract represents just a way of organizing the workers. Like, it is young Rob, just vibing around as a little tiny freaking tadpole in this massive trillion dollar freaking global corporation that is doing god knows what with god knows what stupid amounts of money controlled by such a small handful of people making decisions that upset me that I feel like I have to answer for in my daily life where I'm like, "Oh my god, I'm participating in this shit that I don't-" you know, often that there are decisions being made by the company that I do not agree with. We're making contracts with, you know, making some-

Janelle Jolley  40:48  
Defense contracts.

Rob  40:48  
Defense contracts! And CBP, and all of these things that I'm like, "I do not like this." This makes me feel... this really adds to that dissonance that I already feel where I have to wake up and be like, "Am this okay? Am I allowed to do this? Am I compromising all of my values by continuing to go into work here?"

Janelle Jolley  41:08  
So you said in the abstract a union's purpose is to organize the workers. But, and maybe this is too close, but concretely, how do you- what do you view as the purpose of unions and their benefit to workers? Concretely?

Rob  41:30  
It is simply, I think, a alternative to profit as a principle that can exist as a thing to consider in the workplace, I guess. Like, and it seems like-

Janelle Jolley  41:48  
Tell me what you mean by that. Because that sounds very abstract.

Rob  41:51  
Yeah, yeah, yeah. You're right. You said concretely, and then I went even farther out. But everything is driven by the profit motive in general. And we think that this is the thing that will make the best outcomes for all of the people. We being the capitalist establishment. And along the way, there is no independent consideration as a guiding principle. Like, "What does this mean for the people whose labor are making this possible?" And I think it is- like, a union is a structure through which that question is asked.

Janelle Jolley  42:26  
And arbitrated.

Rob  42:26  
And arbitrated. Yeah, and I mean, arbitrated almost feels too interventionist in some way. But it is organized, it is gathered. The opinion of the workers is solicited, you know? Which-

Janelle Jolley  42:39  
But is it just solicit- what I'm trying to get at is, in your conception of the need or, and or, benefit of unions, is it that, at their essence, unions are the only countervailing force to capital? In a firm. Or, no?

Rob  42:58  
I mean... you know, I would say it is the know, like, union is just a wrapper around the workers, which are the countervailing force to capital. The corporation is made up of capital and workers.

Janelle Jolley  43:17  

Rob  43:17  
Like, and these are the things that are kind of in tension, there are those that own the capital, and then those that work on the capital.

Janelle Jolley  43:26  

Rob  43:26  
And I think that often, it is not the case that there is a structure that allows for the workers to be a countervailing force.

Janelle Jolley  43:37  
Especially in tech.

Rob  43:37  
Exactly. Especially in tech. And so I think that a union is a way of... it is a locus, you know, to gather that power to- like, create a vehicle by which one can understand one's power, almost.

Janelle Jolley  43:57  
Mm! I see.

Rob  43:57  
And eventually exercise it in some way.

Janelle Jolley  44:00  
And that is why you didn't hesitate when asked or approached, or whatever.

Rob  44:05  
Right. Workers deserve to have a word- a voice in their workplace.

Janelle Jolley  44:09  

Rob  44:09  
Because it is their labor that makes it possible. It also is worth noting that, well, yeah, software engineers, white collar workers at, you know, companies like Google are compensated very well, but that is not the majority of those employed by the company or by companies contracted by the company.

Janelle Jolley  44:29  

Rob  44:29  
You know?

Janelle Jolley  44:29  
That's right.

Rob  44:29  
Like, the majority of people doing labor for Google are blue collar workers.

Janelle Jolley  44:34  
It's a mix of blue collar and not as well...not as generously compensated white collar professionals doing the groundwork.

Rob  44:44  
You know, union membership has fallen dramatically since its peak in the mid 20th century. And along with that, wage growth has stagnated and inequality has gone up massively. And just that, you know, that correlation does not seem spurious.

Janelle Jolley  45:00  

Rob  45:00  
And if there is something that I could hope to come out of this, it would be momentum to, you know, reinvigorate a labor movement in the United States, which has been atrophying for the last 80 years. And like, I think that that would be, you know, the real- like, that these types of unions show up in more and more industries. That a counter balancing force emerges to what currently feels like such a profoundly concentrated amount of power in the hands of a few owners.

Janelle Jolley  45:35  

Rob  45:35  
And I think that just, you know, with electoralism being a game that we're never quite sure about that, you know?

Janelle Jolley  45:45  
That's right.

Rob  45:45  
That we just don't know what we're gonna actually be able to get out of anything there. That having another avenue isn't just the market, you know?

Janelle Jolley  45:54  
Yeah. Yeah.  

Rob  45:56  
Or just, you know, hope for a politician that might be different than all the others. Or, you know, now that we missed our shot at St. Bernard-

Janelle Jolley  46:07  
We didn't miss it. We did all we could.

Rob  46:11  
Okay, you're right. Sorry. We did not miss this, but now that the-

Janelle Jolley  46:13  
But he's a spent force at this point.

Rob  46:14  
Right, exactly. And just that, you know, here's another avenue.

Janelle Jolley  46:14  

Rob  46:14  
Maybe this is a way that we can-

Janelle Jolley  46:20  
Let's try something.

Rob  46:20  
Yeah, exactly. And so, maybe five years from now, it catches on- it's been catching on that there are more unions, and that this emerges as something that people can turn to when they're upset with things that corporations do. That there's somebody to say, "Hey, we agree that that is not good. And here is a collection of people who have the power to do something about it," because in fact, you can't do this without us. So if we collectively decide that we do not want to do this, yeah. Like, you will not be able to do this. And you need to, you know, bargain. You need to come to the table and say-

Yeah, with the workers.  

Yeah, with the workers.

Janelle Jolley  46:33  
Not you board, not your shareholders.

Rob  46:40  

Janelle Jolley  46:41  
Of which, yes, we are shareholders. But you need to come to the table with the workers. Like, this  is the work that we seek to do. As a result of your involvement in joining this union, do you now see labor as the realm that is most...that can be most affected by leftist energy and organization?

Rob  47:29  
Yes. Yeah, I definitely do. And I think that this, you know, the pandemic has done a lot to lay that bare as well.

Janelle Jolley  47:35  

Rob  47:35  
And that, you know, certainly this is a different corner of labor. But that, in general, I think the collective consciousness is waking up to the value of labor. That even the term essential worker, you know, as much as it's used to deflect from the fact that we are exploiting these people, it is also something that you can't help but realize is meaningful. That these people are essential. That we live in a society and this society is built on labor.

Janelle Jolley  48:16  

Rob  48:16  
And that I think-

Janelle Jolley  48:18  
And these people's labor, we cannot do without.

Rob  48:20  
Right, exactly. And that in general, that the people's labor, we cannot do without. And that I think that, you know, in a uncertain political climate, that we need labor is a truth that doesn't really change. Like, so long as we have capitalism, we will have, you know, a fundamental conflict between workers and owners. And so long as this remains, we need to put energy into making sure that the workers have a voice. Otherwise, it, you know, it's just the owners.

Janelle Jolley  49:04  
I really can't overstate how much I enjoyed conducting this interview. It'll be really interesting to see how union activity continues to develop in tech, from the office workers at Google to the warehouse workers at Amazon's Alabama facility. Watch this space. Anyway, help your darling host grow this humble podcast by sharing it with friends, ay? I'd really appreciate it. Okay, see you next week.

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