Dear Designer

Dear Designer: Hope Is Not Enough

We have to combine hope with a plan to make progress on solving our problems

Mike Monteiro
Modus
Published in
7 min readNov 27, 2019

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Illustration: Eugenia Mello

Hey Mike,

We’ve been behaving so badly that I hope the government comes in and regulates us.

— Anonymous Facebook Employee

Dear Designer,

The first car I remember my father driving was a 1973 Plymouth Gran Fury. It was midnight blue. Big as a boat. You could easily fit four people across the back seat. It smelled like cigarettes. He bought it used. But he looked good in it, which is probably why he bought it. My father was a vain man. Is a vain man.

The car got terrible gas mileage, which hadn’t yet become a concern for most people. At least in a big-picture, fossil-fuel-emissions kind of way. We were still a little sore about losing the Vietnam War and needed something to remind us what it meant to be American. Large cars did the trick then. (Cybertrucks do it now.) The shitty gas mileage did matter in a small-picture way, though. My father was a construction worker in Philadelphia, where the ground freezes over in the winter. Construction stops. So do paychecks. And it took a lot of gas to fill that car’s tank.

I remember one particular winter morning. We’d been hit by a snowstorm a few days earlier and the streets were still covered with snow. The city of Philadelphia didn’t exactly rush to plow our neighborhood. He decided to drive us to school. We piled in the car. Got yelled at for not kicking the snow off our shoes before climbing in.

“We need to stop for gas.”

We pulled up to the pump at the AM/PM minimart and my dad pulled out his wallet. Five ones. Went through the change compartment and dug out a few quarters and some more odd change.

“Be right back.”

He came back in the car holding a lottery ticket and tucked it into a crack in the dashboard foam that he used for important paperwork, and we drove off to school.

“Hopefully we hit the numbers tonight.”

My father lived on hope.

He never had a 401k. Never saved. Spent most of his life without insurance of…

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Mike Monteiro
Modus
Writer for

English is my second language. You were my first.