By Jessica Smith

I didn’t know David Graeber. I’m a 24 yr old girl living in Pennsylvania, USA. I work for fair treatment of prisoners.

When I took my first job doing this I was excited to be of some service to someone and to work for a cause I felt mattered. It was good work, though hard to stomach sometimes. The hardest part, though, was the office with fluorescent lighting, the slew of emails, and all the other trappings of professionalism. This was so extraordinarily oppressive I could not see straight. My brother had recently died which made me acutely aware of the fact that life does end. I could not bear to imagine all my future years stretched out before me, all taking place behind that desk, in that office, wearing a blazer and sorting files.

For a number of reasons, that was the darkest time in my life. Like, dark how they portray it in the movies. For 12 entire months it was all I could do to wake up each day.

David’s writing was my only source of actual hope and comfort during this time. I would take a hot bath and read Bullshit Jobs and suddenly the rope around my chest would loosen for as long as I was reading. His article about interstitial democracy made me feel that a better world is not only possible, but worth working towards.

You will never know how grateful I am to him for putting his thoughts into action – for actually writing and publishing a book so that it might reach me.

I read Michael Hardt’s obituary of Graeber in Jacobin. He decidely does not describe David Graeber’s outlook as optimism since it is staked so much in reality. I agree. This is why he could offer me hope when no one else could. My loving family! My loving boyfriend! My dear friends! They could not offer what I needed to hear.

I would like to tell him thank you. I would like to let him know that he helped me see a life away from that extraordinary darkness. I am so much freer now and so much of that is thanks to him.

— Jessica Smith