The Hall of Wealth

They say it’s not really gold. But from the shine on the top of the columns in the entryway to the Hall of Wealth, they could be solid gold. The columns are white marble and the bottom and the top of each one is either gold or perhaps gold leaf. I do not know which. But the door is always shut and you have to have an invitation to get in. They don’t even answer the door unless they know you. My uncle got me an invitation to work in that hall as a page. It was amazing.

The first thing you realize in the Hall of Wealth is that numbers are everything. Everything has a number to it. They have numbers for the size of doorways, numbers for the kinds of doors, numbers for certain areas, numbers for the kind of chairs you sit in. They have numbers for the kinds of offices, for how deep the carpets are, numbers for the color of the bathroom water faucets, numbers for the jobs and numbers for the people who work the jobs. High numbers are good and low numbers are not so good.

Everybody there works and they get numbers. The numbers determine everything about your life so numbers are very important. And when you start they tell you the number that you will get for your job. Everybody either knows your number or they can guess it and you have to relate to everybody according to your number and their number.

My uncle told me that you start out with a low number and then you work your way up to higher numbers. That’s what I did, or at least that is what I tried to do, because the number they give to pages is pretty low.

Most everybody was working for higher numbers and the higher the numbers they got, the harder they seemed to work. And after they got the higher numbers, they had to work harder to keep them because everybody wanted them.

I did everything that they told me to do, which was mostly going and getting things for people with higher numbers. I went to get lunches and dinners; I took boxes from one place to another; I helped move chairs and set up projectors and screens for presentations and placed microphones on tables and sometimes I just sat and watched.

I am convinced that some of them were looking for the same thing that I was looking for. But the Hall of Wealth was the easiest place to ignore it because everything and everybody was so very nice.

The people with higher numbers were more intelligent, more attractive, more powerful, more respected and generally much better people than the others, although many of them never really produced anything but numbers.

For me, all of these added benefits of the numbers made life so much more, well, interesting, and made it so much easier to focus on numbers rather than “the problem.”

And if the truth be known, I loved the numbers, too, and after a while I was working for numbers just like everyone else. And I ended up with a lot more numbers than when I started.

But numbers were not what I was looking for, and the problem was becoming more like a kind of internal emptiness or void. It became more troubling as time passed and not even numbers would fill it. So I left.