There are so many things I never thought I would see, but which have come to pass with the Trump administration. I won’t indulge in a laundry list here, because I doubt that examples didn’t already spring to your mind when you read that sentence.
Yesterday, I did something I never thought I’d have to do: I protested for the post office. The post office. I keep trying to come up with a parallel that is simultaneously as fundamental (like trial by jury) and innately non-controversial (like teddy bears, maybe?), but there’s no sufficient analog I can find. Of course, I found myself marching for science three years ago, which also would have stretched credulity prior to 2016.
This country matters to me. Democracy matters to me. I’m the kind of person who votes in every election, including the off-season special elections and ballot measures in the months of May and August. (Voting by mail makes that participation rather easy, by the way.) And if you want to get me riled up, trampling on the First Amendment is a good way to go about it.
But I have not traditionally been a protester. Part of this is my upbringing; I was raised to be quiet, to be compliant, to not draw attention to myself, and I have been earnestly struggling with and against that for decades. A larger part of my non-involvement, though, is due to chronic illness and pain, which worsen with weather and are exacerbated by stress and many other factors. It has been so frustrating to sit at home while others have shown up to lend their voices the way I’ve longed to. Making donations to candidates and causes, and writing letters and making phone calls offer only partial consolation, and bring no true satisfaction.
But I have to be careful. I have trouble standing for any length of time. I am subject to problems with both heat and cold, to easy dehydration and an array of GI issues that require my knowing where the nearest bathroom is pretty much all the time. I am prone to panic attacks, making large crowds and loud noises problematic. I am similarly sensitive to scents and chemicals and a whole bunch of other shit that generally make daily living an uncomfortable adventure that must be navigated with patience and humility.
But I’ve still wanted to be able to show up and protest, and I’ve been in awe of those who have been doing precisely that for so long—against ICE, for BLM, and so much more. And I’m not sure why, but Louis DeJoy’s suspicious and destructive policies in his role as Postmaster General were the thing that crossed the line for me this time. You don’t get to mess with the election process while I have anything to say about it. And because Saturday’s Save the USPS protest event was hyperlocal, I was able to participate in person.
I was already familiar with the territory of my local postal branch, and it was close enough to home that I didn’t even need anyone else to go with me. It wasn’t a march, so I could take a camping chair and set it up in the shade. I filled a backpack with quick snacks, a water bottle, noise-canceling headphones, and other necessities, and I fashioned a home-made sign from cardboard taken from the previous day’s Imperfect Produce delivery box. I grabbed my mask and some hand sanitizer and I showed up. I hope you did, too.
I didn’t march around with the others who paraded back and forth through the crosswalks as the traffic lights allowed. I didn’t join the chanting because I didn’t want to tire myself out too quickly. But I sat in the shade and held my sign and waved at the cars passing by, and I felt a surge of purpose and participation. I felt like my quiet voice mattered. It was tremendous to stand up (figuratively) for something as basic and vital as the United States Postal Service.
Back at home, I will continue to write letters and make my meager donations. I will occasionally post my tempered outrage on social media, because I still don’t like swearing quite so much in public. And I will be looking for more such opportunities to be present in protest, as I’m able to. Because, folks, the chances are quite good that things will get infinitely, unimaginably worse in the weeks and months to come. And I say fuck that malfeasant, corrupt bullshit.