Perhaps it hasn’t come through in this particular blog, but since the lion’s share of my readers know me personally, it should come as no surprise that I’m a little opinionated. And yes, my tongue is fully inserted in my cheek as I write that, because I am extremely opinionated and it has undoubtedly come through in this blog. And if it hasn’t, I’m failing.
Although my opinions are numerous, vigorous, and likely more inflexible than they should be; I don’t talk about them much. Truth is, I don’t talk much at all. In fact, I try to avoid it like the plague. I’d rather dismantle the damn Christmas tree than talk on the phone. I’d rather eat fish than engage in idle chatter and meaningless small talk (I don’t like fish because WHO THE HELL WANTS TO EAT CAT FOOD?). I’d rather do 10 sinks full of dirty dishes by hand than talk politics with strangers.
Thus, my expression of opinions tends to be limited to social media. My thoughts and opinions flow quite freely when I’m sitting behind my laptop screen. Maybe it’s because I always have the internet at the ready to fact check myself or others. Or perhaps I simply find written discourse to be a safer endeavor than a verbal debate. Or, most probably, perhaps it’s the ability to hide, block, unfollow, or unfriend people who piss me off.
So, even though I post ad nauseam about my disdain for 45, my disillusionment with my shit weasel Congressman, or my disgust for climate change deniers; I rarely DO anything. I would say I’m all talk, but I’ve already established I don’t really care for talking; so I guess I have to say I’m all type. I’m a slacktivist.
Today, though, for the first time since 2012 (when I phone banked and knocked on doors for Minnesotans United to defeat the anti-marriage amendment) I pulled up my big girl pants and DID something.
After over a year of bemoaning the election of 45, watching a completely complicit Congress who will do nothing to rein him in; and watching my Congressman and his staff belittle, ignore and disrespect constituents; I decided to join my local chapter of Indivisible in a party to celebrate the early retirement of Erik Paulsen. Our fearless leader Anita had a cake, party hats, noise makers and rubber duckies with ‘lame’ written on them. A group of about 10 of us walked into his office, where we presented the cake and multiple pink slips citing various reasons for his early termination. They included things like: avoiding constituents, voting for the tax scam, voting against making 45 release his tax returns, and failing to protect the environment.
I feel the need to restate and rephrase some things. I’m an introvert. I don’t really like to talk. I prefer to avoid conflict. I like to blend in.
And yet, this morning I donned a party hat and walked into my congressman’s office with a pink slip, a noise maker, and a rubber ducky; singing “happy early retirement to you,” all the while. It didn’t feel quite as brave as making phone calls or knocking on the doors of strangers, but it did feel pretty fucking weird. And was ridiculously far outside of my comfort zone/slacktivism cocoon.
DAMMITALLTOHELL! I really just want to foster dogs and drink wine, so why oh why must the world be in such a state?? WHYYYYYY?
I really wish I could adequately convey how out of character this is for me. Yes, I did some phone banking and door knocking in 2012; but only because I couldn’t NOT do it. Believe me, I tried to come up with an excuse. I had to do it and I did. With shaking hands, a trembling voice, sweaty palms and heart palpitations. I hated it and swore myself to nothing but slacktivism going forward.
All that is to say, I went. YAY ME! It all felt pretty ok to me until the young lady at the front desk (who I will now say was very respectful and graceful under fire) asked a couple of our members to quit filming, referring to signs stating such activity is prohibited in the building. They both pushed back a little, which admittedly left my comfort zone even further behind in my rearview mirror. Ultimately, though, they both put away their phones. No harm done.
I was kind of frustrated, because she kept her cool and did her job so well. I wanted her to say or do something wildly inappropriate so I could go to my car and post about it on social media (it was going to be my triumphant return to slacktivism!). She simply would not oblige.
But, never fear, the air freshener lady is here!
Yup. You read that right. Air freshener.
A staffer in one of the back offices opened her door and proceeded to spray air freshener into the hallway. From an aerosol can, of course. It was an odd moment. A quick on her feet member of our party walked the two or three feet over to her doorway and asked if she’d like to join our party. She replied saying she wanted to ‘get rid of the stink’ and closed her door.
Did a staffer from my congressman’s office just refer to a group of constituents as ‘stink?’
Yes, yes she did. Either that or she had just dropped a huge turd in her office. Which seems unlikely, especially since she sprayed into the hall; so I think it’s safe to assume she called us stink.
That was followed by an episode where a different staffer came out and started taking pictures. Which seemed odd since we’d just been asked to quit filming. He informed us that they could do it, but we could not.
Those in power can do what the people cannot. Welcome to Democracy, y’all!
Once the dust had settled a bit, a member of our party held out his hand to this staffer and introduced himself. The staffer replied saying, “I’m not going to shake your hand.”
A congressional staffer refusing to shake the hand of a constituent?
What in the actual hell?
Were we obtrusive? Yes. Were we loud and a little bit obnoxious? Yes. Was this the preferred way for ANY of us to spend a Tuesday morning? No. Did we deserve to have air freshener sprayed in our general direction and be snubbed by a staffer who couldn’t shake a man’s hand? HELL NO.
Ya know what though? It’s ok. Such behavior is what led to today’s event. And even though it made me hella uncomfortable, I’ll sleep well tonight knowing I did something. Erik and his staff drove me to action, and that’s not a bad thing.
And, I’m far from alone. That lady is going to need LOTS of air freshener. This stink has staying power.