Welcome to John Hancock, Please Write Small

From my days as a bike messenger in Boston.

Liman Albridge


The enormous glass wing of the former John Hancock Tower in Coply Square, Boston. Framed against the blue sky.
The John Hancock Tower in Copley Square, Boston. Credit: Daderot

This is 200 Clarendon Street in Boston’s Back Bay.

It’s the tallest building in Boston, looming over Copley Place, Trinity Church and the Boston Public Library.

Back when I was a bike messenger in Boston, in the early years of the new millenium, this building was known as the John Hancock Tower, because John Hancock Financial was the major tenant. (This patriotic company has since been purchased by a Canadian firm.)

Despite it’s sleek lobby and the stunning views from the upper floors, I always hated visiting the Hancock Tower.

Every skyscraper is a fortress.

In reality, these towers are just office space, but the people working there find it psychologically important to be inside the tower, while everybody else is outside. They like to feel as though there’s a moat around the building, and some brutes at the gate to protect them. Gotta keep out the riff-raff.

This feeling of belonging, this feeling of superiority is one of the things that keeps office workers coming back, day over day, to their stultifying, often meaningless jobs. It makes them feel important. If you see people below you when you look down, it’s a mighty salve and distraction from the gaping maw of death and the long cosmic night.

Another subtle way in which Terror Management subconsciously governs our lives.‌

At some level, we’re doomed to have insiders and outsiders. Natural divisions between groups of people will always exist.

But we don’t have to accentuate them by building walls and posting security guards. We could easily choose to share resources instead of hoa rding them.

Once a group of people decides (consciously or unconsciously) to accentuate the difference between insiders and outsiders, it becomes a psycho-cultural imperative to treat the insiders better, and the outsiders worse.

This is why we have Priority Security at the airport, and VIP access, and why so many around the globe strive and struggle to present themselves as high status. It does offer real protection and convenience, but it’s also a psychological…



Liman Albridge

Half Ben Franklin, Half Tyler Durden. Emphasis on half. I get weird over at occultedordinary.com.