To catch up…
Friday I took down red lentils with star pasta and Snickers candy bars. (Er, in separate plastic bags.)
Chatted with Cheryl the Kitchen Lady and got the number for someone who is organizing comfort trips to greet protestors when they get out of jail. The poetry anthology at the park keeps getting stolen, so they’re asking people to email their poems to the guy organizing it. Crowded but good vibe, everyone seemed focused and determined and I saw at least one working group meeting. I always feel better when I see people sitting in a circle on the ground.
Someone needed help carrying boxes of apples and cider, three of us raised our hands but I was the only one who managed to keep up with the nervous donater. He looked around, scowling, “People aren’t volunteering as much as they did at the beginning,” he grumbled. I thought about it. When there are a handful of people, it’s easy to see how if something needs doing, You need to do it. When there are several hundred people, it’s easy to think Someone Else can do it.
My fix was to haul boxes out of the street to the police barrier, catch the eye of someone with empty hands, smile, and say, “I need you to take this box to the kitchen.” It looked like everything got where it was supposed to go, mostly, so I am satisfied with that.
I also got a pita from one of the carts. I had watched a video where one of the friendly food vendors had gotten his generator (which he had let the media people plug into for a price) confiscated. You only saw him from behind, his salt and pepper hair gently balding under a cap. I thought it was Rafi who sells me coffee and the occasional danish, but he said “No, it was my friend,” and gestured to the pita guy. So I went back to him, causing some consternation. “Wasn’t it good?” asked the guy who had been in line behind me. “No, it’s great!” I hastily reassured him, “And the cheese-steaks are good, too,” I said, feeling less out of my depth there.
Once he got his sandwich and I was on my own, again, I leaned in and handed the vendor a $5, “I saw the video where the cops took your generator. I’m sorry, thank you for helping,” and ducked away before we had to exchange anything too politically complicated. I ducked behind the cart to cross the street, and glanced behind me nervously at a movement, wondering if a cop would do me for illegal donations… but it was just the cart owner, waving to me through the window in the backdoor.
I hate being afraid of the police, but I love making connections with people I never had anything in common with before.
Saturday morning, I found out the car I was hoping to borrow didn’t have safe enough brakes, so I called a cab and brought a book. (Yea, Terry Pratchett! Snuff reminds me of Thud.) Long ride later, got dropped off on the other side of Broadway by the Red Cube (as opposed to The Red Thing… outdoor art essentialized by the occupation… very practical, no?) and hauled three pans of roasted vegetables, 5 Ziploc bags of split pea soup, a box of salad fixings, and a big box of warm donated clothes to the Kitchen and Comfort tarps, respectively.
Then I tried to leave, but the handcart I was carrying got in my way. Plus, I got handed a purple harmonica for a performance art piece that was going to happen at 2 pm, so I decided to stick around for that.
I tried to interact with Sgt. Shamar Thomas—he is even bigger in real life than he is on YouTube. I had thought he just happened to be near short people in Times Square, but no. He is Just Effing Huge. However, at the moment I could have maybe caught his eye, the kitchen mic checked and by the time I was done repeating their words, he was gone. *sigh*
So I moseyed up the stairs, chatted briefly with the info guy—he’s been at that table, he said, for 48 days. That man needs a coffee. If I had been less sleepy, I would have been more coherent. I tried to convey my appreciation for his dedication, anyway, but I think mainly I expressed my exhaustion. Oh well, I hope it was as favorable an impression as I meant to impart…
Then I stumbled onto the button guy! I’ve seen pics of him since fairly early on. There are other folks selling buttons, but he has a table and a button maker and markers. He has a lot of buttons, and makes them as they get taken, but you can also draw your own button that he will stamp and it’s all donations. While I am uncomfortable buying a t-shirt for $10, I’m happy to *donate* $20… so I did, and got 20 buttons. Now I can wear my Occupy Wall St allegiance even when my t-shirt is in the wash. Joy!
I figured that since the t-shirt people I had frequented before were no longer there, I could at least start sending thank-you buttons to the people who have donated money to the chip in cab and Costco fund. (So, people who have donated… I will contact you in the near future when I have some brain and see if you would like to share your mailing address with me in exchange for a button or two.)
Then I realized that I was resenting the hand truck—so I asked the button guy if he could use it. (I accidentally bought two. Long story.) He was all excited, so we had a win-win about that and I felt less guilty taking twenty of his buttons. In fact, in the future I will probably take more because I’m already down five… I just kept meeting people who needed buttons! :*)
In a tickled frame of mind, I stumbled upon Legotti park—the Occupy Legoland “encampment” that I’d again, seen pictures of but not actually seen in person. It was adorable. I asked if he could use storm troopers—but he said he had plenty of police, and was trying to use less of them. I snickered, “Ah, de-escalating?” …And he had solved an earlier problem, managing to re-create The Red Thing in Legos. Very impressive use of plastic.
The kitchen area was the most defined, but I worked out where the Medic area was by the green-faced Lego lying under a blanket. Giggle.
I chatted with some tourists and then it was two pm and time for us to breathe through our harmonicas next to The Red Thing. I felt like a train, I felt like an artist, I felt heard.
I thought about marching to Foley Square in the golden autumn light… but I didn’t have a protest buddy with me, and a friend was coming over to our house, and I hadn’t slept right in ages… so I came home.
But first I watched the march pass me, breathing in and out through my harmonica, and waved to the Peaceful Grannies and all the other people, laughing, chatting, shouting, walking, being present and presenting themselves to be heard.
Can you hear us?