SAN JOSE, CA
LATE JANUARY 2017
Within just a mile or two of downtown San Jose, California are located an airport, a train station, a Greyhound terminal, and a major sports stadium. At about a million souls, the city itself is the 10th largest in the United States — outstripping its more-storied neighbor 48-odd miles to the north. And between them and their surrounding counties — taking in everything down to Santa Cruz and out to San Joaquin and San Benito counties — they make up the San Francisco Bay Area, an 8 million strong region that has the second-highest density of college graduates in the country.
As a staging area for the region, the confluence of an airport, a train station, a bus terminal, and a stadium made the area perfect.
A few private cars mixed with the official vehicles. Most of the private vehicles sported Uber stickers, not a few of them also bearing pink Lyft insignia and other signage. The official vehicles were mostly vans used for transporting people. A significant proportion sported the increasingly-familiar decals of ICE: Enforcement & Removal Operations (ERO). But there was a mix of other organizations represented. FBI, US Marshals, DEA, even the Secret Service. State and local agencies were less well-represented, various jurisdictions having refused to participate in the 45th President’s Plans.
It was a delicious irony, he thought. All those years of staying legal. Living by the rules. Agonizing about job decisions. Playing it safe… It had taken 19 years, but he had become a citizen. With full rights. For the first time in his life, at 40, he was able to vote. And he had picked well. The first African-American President of the United States.
It had been a good choice.The economy had improved, he had reinvented himself as a solar technologist and built a small business. Made contributions to help re-elect that President he had helped pick. The small picture in the hands of the uniformed ICE agent was a trophy from that campaign.
“Sorry, sir, but you have to come with us. Your family will be waiting for you at the station.” With that, the agent tossed the picture frame aside and Himro heard the crunch of glass as the agent behind him stepped on it.
Basit stood up from behind his desk and sauntered over to the picture window in his Silicon Valley office. From that vantage, one could just see the tops of the largest roller coasters at the Great America theme park beyond the office buildings across Highway 101.
As a Vice President at Yahoo, Basit had managed actual people along the way. The life he’d led the last couple or three decades, however, had been about technology, business plans, raising venture capital from investors. It wasn’t the Industrial Age when your business enterprise was measured by how many employees it had slaving away in factories. Or even like the large corporations of today, where the number of your reports is a measure of how important an executive you are. Today’s innovation economy measures its successes in how many tens of millions you raised in meetings amongst nerdy men — mostly men, anyway — around conference tables that usually sit about a dozen people.
But he had managed people.
Which was on his mind as he packed up his office. At least for now. He had been assured that his job and his office would be waiting for him once things had been figured out and people could go back to their lives, living the American Dream.
Managing people and how much experience he had of it was on his mind because he knew that would be most of what he would be doing, right from when he got to the station.
His Uber was waiting.
Yes, there was an irony. Here she was at the airport while Himro was on his way to the station.
She’d followed in her brother-in-law’s footsteps, at least in terms of a career path, getting a graduate degree from an American university and then getting a job in Silicon Valley.
Her circle of friends, all early in their careers, all on H1Bs, worked hard. And partied as hard as their religious principles and the evolving moral sensibilities of new “non-immigrants” would allow. Even celebrated a Muslim Christmas this last month. As she looked around the bus, each face was lost in the same kind of thought.
…continued Episode 2…