Why I can’t be a protester

I am not a Trump supporter

Let me get this over up front.  I am terribly disappointed that Trump is our President.  I think he is a horrible person who lacks any sort of skills at important traits for civil service such as compassion, empathy and a basic understanding of our political and legal processes.  So, I am by no means a Trump apologist.  But, I will consider myself a Trump-supporter apologist.  And the two are vastly different to me.  So, although I would love to make a cleverly worded sign and adorn myself in a feminist phrases t-shirt on Saturday, I will instead be standing at a table for the Union, answering questions and providing information about the importance of labor protections.  Let me tell you why…

im-not-marching

Eight years ago

Eight years ago, my Facebook feed was filled with a former students’ postings on how the awful the Obama presidency was going to be.  The posts were overly dramatic and often filled with hyperbole.  I’m sure most of you have read some of those claims over the last eight years (and perhaps wrote them yourselves).  I liked Obama, so her posts struck me as ignorant and hurtful and totally out of step with reality.  Hers were not the only comments like that on my Facebook feed, they were just the most extreme.  It was easy to dismiss her feelings because I didn’t share them, but I remember being shocked that someone could actually feel that strongly negative towards a President-Elect.

On the other side

Eight years later, I sit on the other side of the fence.  Now, I’m not comparing Obama to Trump.  Lord knows that Obama has about 100 times more class and compassion and empathy in the tip of his pinky finger as Trump.  But, so far today, I’ve read on Facebook friends’ posts that we should support violent protests in Oakland and other places, including breaking glass and setting fires, in the name of resistance.  We should stop supporting Girl Scouts because they have troops marching in the inauguration and are supporting it by saying it is a tradition.  We are entering a post-apocalyptic era (I think that one was a joke, but I can’t be sure).  We should not only not watch the inauguration tomorrow but that we should turn on our TV to a channel NOT showing the inauguration to truly bring down the ratings.  The list goes on and on.  Half of the information is based in half-truths.  The other half seems like the rantings of lunatics.  They are just lunatics who happen to agree with me politically.  If Hilary had been elected, I would be seeing many of the same posts, but from those who I disagree with politically.  It just isn’t healthy the way we seem to frame the debate so anyone who disagrees with us is deserving of wrath and ridicule.  It is all focused on us vs. them, often for the sake of divisiveness, not solutions.  It exhausts me and saddens me and sometimes even angers me.  I feel like I have to constantly try to be the voice of reason.  I am drawn to find points of compromise or to point out when arguments are flawed.  But, that also makes me sound like an apologist.

I am a bad __________.

Fill in the blank.  Progressive.  Liberal.  Feminist.  It all works.  But, I just can’t bring myself to march in Saturday’s protest.  I have a lot of friends who are marching, both in DC and their localities.  And I totally support them.  I don’t think the protests are wrong or should not happen.  In fact, I am thankful that some do feel compelled to participate.  But, it just isn’t for me.

The problem with protests

Protests are all about fueling those feelings of us vs. them.  They are all about drawing distinctions – those who are protesting, those who support the protests and those who do not support the protests.  But, that is really an oversimplification.  I guarantee you that there will be groups of women at the protests that I will totally agree with on most, if not all, things.  I also guarantee you there will be groups of women at the protests who I totally disagree with on most, if not all, things.  There will be some involved in protests who use the us vs. them feelings as a justification for violent acts against police or store windows or cars.  I can not condone this.  There will be some involved in the protests who want to claim the moral high ground and display their oppression as a badge of honor, while ignoring their privilege in many other instances.  There will be others involved in the protests who do hold the moral high ground in their day-to-day activities and who change the lives of people daily and recognize their privilege readily. There will be some involved in the protests who see it as their “chance” to be “political,” as if we don’t have and make those choices daily.  And because I feel like all of that nuance is lost in the format and purpose of a protest, I can’t find it in myself to want to participate.  I guess I am less afraid of looking like a bad _____________ than I am of supporting something or someone I don’t believe in or support.

My plan to “resist”

I definitely don’t support Donald Trump as President, but I don’t think of protests as demonstrating a lack of support for someone, I think of them as showing support for something else.  At this point, I’m not sure what that something else is.  I feel better waiting it out and trying to make my daily choices more compassionate, empathetic and with knowledge and understanding of our political and legal processes.  But, that means I have to be compassionate to Trump supporters as much as I am to Trump haters.  It means I have to be empathetic to those who do not see the world the way I do.  And it means that I have to recognize that as much as I hate it, the political process deemed Trump the winner and he is President.  We shall see what that means over the next four years, but hopefully, our political process will be able to withstand this low point in political decision making.  I think it will.  I am not preparing for a post-apocalyptic world.  I am preparing for some backtracking in civil rights and, ironically enough, protections against government interference and control, but I am also prepared to see our political process work against extremism, as it was designed to do.

Long-term View

I may eat these words.  I may wish that I had marched with the protesters and drew a more solid line between me and the Trump supporters.  But, at this point, I can’t find it in myself to take that stance.  So, Trump supporters, I will be seen as an apologist for you.  I will try to come from a place of compassion and empathy.  But, Trump, I will not be an apologist for you.  You need to change your ways and act more interested in your constituents than yourself.  You are not our CEO who can hire and fire us.  We are not your employees or your “apprentices”.  We are your constituents.  We expect you to figure out how to do your job without using Twitter storms as a agent of threat.  We expect you to deal with other countries as if there is peace on the line.  We expect you to choose individuals who can do the jobs they are chosen to do.  So far, as President Elect, you’ve done a pretty poor job of all of this.  But, now you are the President.  So, step up and act like one.  Please and thank you.

My first retail job – bankrupt!

If you’ve got a gift card for The Limited gathering dust, you may want to use it before a potential bankruptcy could make that card worth less than the plastic it’s printed on. In the last month, The Limited has made it known that it was exploring its options, maybe looking for a buyer. However,…

via It’s Probably Time To Use Up Your Gift Cards For The Limited — Consumerist

I got my first retail job when I was 18 and had started Community College.  Prior to that, I had worked as a lifeguard and swim instructor during the summer and not at all during the school year (my parents were relatively generous and I saved money from my summer job).  But, when I started Community College, I really wanted to work at the mall in the next city up from my Community College, which was already about 10 miles from my home town.  My hometown did not have a mall and it seemed glamorous to have a job in a clothing retailer there.  I put in applications at multiple stores, but got hired at The Limited.  I learned a lot at that job.  I learned how to fold a sweater with clipboard like a champ and I still fold all my shirts and sweaters that way (without the clipboard, so not as exact in size, but the same basic idea).  I learned how to push an add-on item like socks when people were making purchases (I hated it, but I learned how to do it).  I learned that clothing does not actually make the person.  There were a lot of people who came there to shop who were dressed incredibly well but whose actions were less than appealing.  I learned about shoplifting.  I learned about sales targets and how unfair they were (less hours for not reaching your sales targets, but then you were even LESS likely to reach sales targets…).  I learned that management in retail is far from glamorous.  And although I worked in retail again a few times, I also learned this was NOT the career for me.  I learned that lifeguarding and teaching swim lessons was about 110% better than selling clothes.  Needless to say, I didn’t last long at the job.  I think I worked there for about six months before leaving, but it was definitely a valuable learning experience.

Now, The Limited is possibly going bankrupt.  When I worked there it was the bee’s knees, so-to-speak.  The sweaters were sought after.  Everyone wanted their cute jeans and their accessories.  It was all that and more.  But, times change.  I’m actually kind of surprised they’ve lasted this long.  When I think back to the mall I worked in, many stores have gone under – Mervyn’s, Miller’s Outpost (the second retailer I worked for and although I liked it much better than The Limited, it still wasn’t great), Gottschalk’s.

My original hometown still doesn’t have a mall.  They have a number of large “strip” malls, but not an actual inside mall.  The mall I worked at is still there and still crowded much of the time.  My current hometown has mall, but it isn’t the bustling, glamorous center it used to be.  It is now more of an indoor strip mall.  The exception is the holiday season, when Santa is there and they show movies in the mall and there are decorations.  But, for the most part, this generation seeks online shopping experiences rather than the communal mall experience.  I don’t know if that is good or bad.  But, I imagine that less individuals will be able to claim their first job at a retail establishment in the mall.  They may miss out on some valuable lessons if that is the case.

What about you?  Do you have a retail selling experience?  Was it in a mall?  Is the retailer still in business or no?  I would love to hear your stories!