It seems like every shift I’ve worked since the Don of our new administration, I miss another major local protest. Women’s March. SFO. #NoBanNoWall, and countless other ones, no doubt.
Meanwhile, I’m behind the counter caffeinating protesters on their way to actually participate. I see their signs, their painted faces, and the fire in their eyes (I mean this metaphorically, not all protesters are arsonists). I like to credit myself in part for fueling that (metaphorical, not real) fire, via coffee, cappuccinos, heated conversations with my customers.
We’ve all forgotten how to small talk. We all abandoned it for real talk the morning of Wednesday, November 9, 2016.
I’ll never forget because I witnessed a miracle that day. I opened that morning with Julia—her on register and me on the bar. Customers trickled in solemnly in a state of collective shock, Julia consoling them all, like soldiers returning home from a battle they’d fought so confidently, and lost so big-ly.
Nobody small-talks with soldiers after battle. It wouldn’t be appropriate. You don’t ask a bleeding, wounded, battered soldier if they caught the game last night. Neither did Julia. She already knew that everybody caught the game. She knew we suffered a collective loss. Nevertheless, she reassured us that, although we’re all scared—we’re terrified—that said, we’re all here in this together, and we will still continue to be here for each other, now more than ever. And in the midst of all of this, Melinda forgets her wallet.
She orders, dips back out to grab her cash out of her car, and Lani, who’s behind her, buys Melinda’s latte. Melinda returns with her five bucks and Julia tells her that her drink has already been paid for. Melinda thanks Lani and leaves her five there on the counter anyway, “For the next one.” And just like that, every customer for the next hour, which consisted of one long, continuous line, had their coffee bought for them by the person before them, and each one paid it forward to the next.
In my six years behind the counter, I’ve never seen anything like that. It wasn’t the kind of thing you ever could have planned. It was just a spontaneous, communal random act of kindness, and credit to Julia for up-selling that love to every customer who came, not letting anyone forget the circumstances of that kindness, or the collective trauma we were all there healing, together.
That was the day that small talk died, and I don’t miss it.
In any case, as much as I fancy myself a fueler of the cause, by caffeinating protesters on their way to go march, I can’t deny that I am not actually there, physically standing with them, assembling with people, yelling, holding signs, representing myself in person.
But that said, protesting is becoming as routine as toast, at least here in the bay, and if there is a protest every day, realistically, I can’t attend them all. And if we can’t uproot our lives and leave our jobs to go be full-time activists, why not bring our protests with us to work, and everywhere we go? Why can’t we wear what we believe loudly and proudly on our sleeves? Literally? Why not take our protest to-go? Force that message upon every soul we pass throughout the day… wouldn’t that be more efficient anyway? Would our words not reach a wider audience?
Making Change? . . . Protesting
Washing your #WordyLaundry? . . . Protesting
Waiting for the elevator? . . . Protesting.
Greeting customers and making coffee? . . . Protesting
Walking the dog, eating an orange? . . . Protesting
Climbing a rock while gazing thoughtfully into the distance? . . . still Protesting.
Not to say you should stop attending protests. Of course you should, by all means, attend when you can. So I can troll instagram and buzzfeed later for my favorite signs to steal and smack onto all my clothes to wear and sell. I’ve always been the most creative plagiarist. All art is a collaborative effort, after all. And as a member of “the Left”, I just adore “arts and crafts disguised as a social justice moment.”
The Left will use any excuse to make a cardboard sign and scream. They love arts & crafts disguised as a social justice moment.
— Tomi Lahren (@TomiLahren) January 29, 2017
So naturally, I’ve taken up the fine craft, for the cause, of fabric-painting my favorite protest signs onto old used clothes I thrift. And you should too. But if you don’t have time, or don’t have fabric paint, or don’t have the sexiest handwriting, by all means, my protest clothes are yours for the taking, if you’re interested in buying. Attached below (not yet, but coming soon! Stay tuned) will be a menu of phrases, images and words of wisdom you can choose from, whether you want to make your own or custom order from myself. Willing to negotiate prices, as all items are one-of-a-kind. Come and get em while they’re hot! Hit me up, firstname.lastname@example.org.
And stay tuned for more new Wordy Laundry every week!