Another day, another mass shooting. America truly is the greatest country in the world. To commit mass murder.
The most recent mass shooting in Virginia Beach has cause me to reminisce about how good it felt to take part in the March For Our Lives last year.
Every Friday without fail some random co-worker asks, “You have any plans for the weekend?” I hate this question. It's always an attempt at small talk from some colleague you barely know and aren't the least bit interested in talking to. Unknown Colleague is the only person in no hurry to leave work on a Friday. While everyone else is sneaking out early, Unknown Colleague is boring you with a twenty minute monologue about weeding his lawn. He is either completely oblivious to or selfishly ignoring your numerous polite attempts to disengage from this interaction. So I make a deliberate effort to evade the weekend question because screw Unknown Colleague.
However, on Friday, March 23, 2018, I deviated from my standard screw off answer and proudly told anyone who asked I would be participating in the March For Our Lives event here in Raleigh. I did this for two reasons. The first being I was very proud and excited to be attending the event. I got a t-shirt and everything. The second reason being my department had recently been combined with another department and it's important to start off on the right foot with new co-workers. They need to know from the get-go this uncompromising payroll administrator don't take no crap. One of them asked if I was concerned about counter-protesters. My response: “Oh, I wish a bastard would.” I find this sets the right tone from the beginning.
The counter protester question would prove to be the smartest question asked. Following are the top three stupid questions uttered by my co-workers:
1. What march?
Asking this question would be acceptable if the protest were for some obscure Indonesian owl on the endangered species list. It is not an acceptable question about a protest with over 800 marches happening worldwide. It's twice as unacceptable from the mother of two small children. It's thrice as unacceptable as the starting point of the march was in front of the very building where we work.
This one really makes me sad because I liked this co-worker. We were almost friends and now I think less of her and have to figure out how to break up with an almost friend.
2. What's the march for?
I was confused by this question because the person who asked it was fully aware the march was organized by the Parkland students. What did he think the march was for? Better cafeteria food? So I told him children are being shot and people have a problem with that. He said, “Yeah, but what do they want to happen with the march?” I now understand why we have no common sense gun laws. Because the answer to that question is common sense. They want common sense gun laws.
The person who asked this question is a father and his wife is a teacher. He is now dead to me.
3. What if it rains?
Sorry, kids. It breaks my heart you're being shot at and I was going to do something about it, but it was raining that day.
The grandmother who posed this question believes the answer to school shootings is home schooling. Never mind the psychopath who shot up Sandy Hook was home schooled. Or that young black people are being shot for loitering in their own backyards.
She still owes me for her share of our boss' Christmas present. I was going to let it go. Now I intend to collect.
Fortunately, my faith in humanity was restored on Saturday morning, March 24, 2018. Thousands of people showed up for the march. It didn't rain, but the temperature was thirty-three degrees. Anything under sixty degrees is considered a sub-zero temperature in the south. Yet, protesters felt so strongly about the problem of gun violence they were willing to risk catching a cold. Suck it, grandma.
As I previously mentioned, the march began in front of my place of employment. Though, I usually go out of my way to avoid going anywhere near there on my days off, I was comforted by the thought that I had access to a non-public bathroom where I wouldn't have to wait in line.
My roommate accompanied me and a group of friends for this march. This being her first ever protest rally, she was super excited. She proved to be quite the shutter bug and crazy good at weaving through crowds. As we marched along the route, she would spot a cool sign, run to get a shot of it and ask strangers to pose for pictures. At five feet tall you'd think she'd be easy to lose in a crowd. She'd run off and we'd immediately lose sight of her. We'd march for a block or two and seemingly out of nowhere, she would appear right next to us. She was so good the rest of us stopped taking pictures because we knew she caught everything.
As we marched closer to the rally site, we saw not one, but two news choppers in the sky. That was when we really knew this was some serious history making crap. They don't send out the newsicopters for a protest to save rare Indonesian owls.
Shout out to Chris Hardball and Lawrence O'Donnell for giving Raleigh a shout out on MSNBC. It was way cool to be watching the footage of the sister marches in New York, Los Angeles, Boston, Chicago, and quite unexpectedly, see Raleigh included in that group. As cool as it was, I'm not sure why they chose to use footage of people going in and out of Port–A-Potties.
Once we arrived at the rally site, my roommate tried to climb up on the rails of a walkway to get a shot of the crowd size. Just as she was about to get a leg up, two cops arrived. She casually pretended to stretch, then walked away. A short time later, people began climbing onto a planter to take pictures. Although, I am the inferior photographer, I possess the superior leg length. So up I went. I had just begun to focus my camera when a cop started yelling at me to get down. I barely managed to take three fuzzy pictures before I was forced back to ground level. According to one of my fellow marchers, you're not a ride or die protester until you've been yelled at by a cop.
Like all the other marches, this one was organized by teenagers. I'm simply impressed by the job they did. I confirmed to no fewer than twelve people that, yes, I am registered to vote at my current address. Booths were set up to provide information on gun laws and local politicians stances on said laws. They even remembered to book the aforementioned Port-A-Potties. Had I been charged with organizing such an event I wouldn't have thought of Port-A-Potties. Because I had access to a non-public bathroom and I don't give two craps where everyone else craps as long as it's not in my bathroom.
After spending the day among the youth of America, I learned three very important things.
1. Sixteen-year-olds can pre-register to vote.
(Note to my sister and her teacher friends: Get your smart students registered to vote. Tell the dumber students you have to own a house to vote or something stupid like that. Make up an amendment if you have to.)
2. I can now Air-Drop photos.
What a nifty little trick. Shut up. Someone had to show you, too.
3. I can delete an unwanted comment on Instagram.
I didn't learn how to do this before because I never needed to. However, some gun nut troll decided he wanted to write a poorly written book of comments under one of the pictures I posted. Not on my Instagram, prick.
My favorite part of the day came on the walk back to the car. We cut through the state capital lawn and discovered people leaving their signs at the statue of George Washington. There was some debate as to whether the statue was of Washington or Jefferson. It's not the best likeness of either. But my roommate located the plaque confirming it was supposed to be Washington.
Then a man walking nearby with his young son had the best idea ever. People should put their p**** hats on the Confederate monuments. I was disappointed I think I didn't think of it myself. This has got to become a thing.
If you live in a state adorned with Confederate monuments, won't you consider placing a p**** hat on the head of a Confederate soldier? It may be the most important thing you do today.
Photo by Tristan Loper | CC-BY-SA-2.0