December 21, 2011

My Time at OWS Turned Me Against It

I've been avoiding writing this since my last post on Occupy Wall Street, for many reasons. The main reason being my sudden neutrality and even opposition in the matter. The first couple weeks of this movement, I was excited. I was caught up in the idea that this would be a 70's protest mixed in with a Circle-Style Kumbaya-Chanting Woodstock-Esque movement. I was diluted, and you don't have to tell me that now. I fell in love with the idea of something, something I do all too often, and was shocked when the reality of the situation did not match the reality in my head.

Actually, scratch that- I wasn't shocked. I was disgusted, embarrassed, uncomfortable, and severely disappointed. It was the equivalent to signing up & agreeing to live this grand lifestyle, only to realize you agreed to live like a bum/crackhead. Okay, maybe I'm being a little harsh. Ah, whatever.

I visited Occupy Wall Street with this Vision in my Head

And this...
I'm starting to think that the drugs made these movements appealing.

But in actuality it looked like this..

And this..

And this.

I went for the March from Union Square to Zuccoti Park, and boy I was excited. I had supplies I was donating, signs I had made, and plenty of ideas to share. I marched for almost two hours with them, trying to talk to other people about why they were there, what they were fighting for, how the experience had treated them so far. Not a lot of intelligent answers, actually not a lot of answers at all. The people in my direct area while marching had their own little "clicks" and would shun others not in the group. Funny, I thought we were supposed to be sharing ideas, and joining together- apparently not.

So I stopped trying to communicate with the protesters and simply marched. I was a bit deterred, but I was still excited- and I wasn't going to let small groups of individuals within the movement taint my belief in it. Once again diluted, ah the truth itself is bittersweet. When we were just a block away, I started to smell the camp. Yup, I smelt it before I actually saw it. We arrived back at Zuccotti Park around 8 or 9, and that's when I started to realize just how wrong I had been.

First off, the park is small, small being the size of an Olympic swimming pool. Which doesn't seem bad, until you realize just how many people are living there. And it smells... like a homeless camp mixed with a rest stop bathroom, I swear to you I can still smell it. That smell is permanently carved into my olfactory nerve memory. Also, while the movement asks for sobriety, everybody's on something for the most part. The only smell more prominent then the aforementioned was the smell of heavy booze and hints of marijuana in the distance.

I initially went to give the supplies I was donating because after lugging them around for two hours, I wanted to get rid of them. I asked six people where I could bring the stuff, no one knew. Out of the corner of my eye however I saw an elderly couple carrying large bags of cut up orange netting talking to a guy that looked like he was dressed for casual friday at work. I headed in the direction of normality and followed the man as he led both the elderly couple and me to a table. The table had some signs on it half of which were movement relate, the other half just people bitching about one thing or another. Didn't really surprise me to be honest.. if there is one thing American Society loves it's bitching, myself included.

After they had taken my stuff, I asked the nicely dressed man where I could go to tell someone some ideas I had, who was in charge, and who would be the most helpful. He didn't know, and in that moment I realized that not a lot of people knew anything about anything here.. and if they did the knowledge was very limited and bound by dogma. I wandered around the middle of the park where the majority of the tables were and just started talking to anyone working there about my ideas and where to go. I kept getting forwarded around, and in the end there wasn't one person who helped me, listened to me, explained the basic ideas they had, or could even answer a question like "Who's in charge of operation?" I was frustrated, and it wasn't about to get easier.

I gave up on trying to give them the idea to use the recent union backing to find companies willing to donate a couple port-o-potties to clean the area up a bit, and they didn't get a port-o-potty until about a month later. I decided to take pictures and wander and listen. The things I saw were as follows: Dirty (as in worked all day in the garden) people sleeping just about anywhere they could, garbage everywhere- or at least it looked like garbage to me, meaningful signs surrounded by signs that were either unrealistic, made no sense, or missed the general idea of it all- like the well photographed "MORE SEX, LESS DRUMS". I saw people who were trying to be fighting for a cause but were more so fighting with each other, arguing beliefs and strategies. I saw separation in a movement that was supposed to be bringing people together against a cause. I saw a lot of Children too, and honestly while its not my place to say or decide, should NOT have been there. The only thing that impressed me was the kitchen, which was not something that should have been perfected before the core ideas and strategies of the movement, but it was.

I was sad, I had believed in this movement. I had seen it, and my opinion of it all had changed. The 99% percent at OWS say they don't trust the 1%, but honestly they gave me no reason why I should trust them, the 99% that were there disappointed me. I had spent the whole day waiting to have a intelligent discussion about the movement, and it did not happen. Instead I got this conversation:

Random Guy: Do you have an extra smoke?
Me: Sure. (hands cigarette)
Guy: So why are you here?
Me: I'm just checking out the movement and the ideas behind it. How about you?
Guy: I'm here to listen to people man.
Me: Heard anything worth sharing?
Guy: The food's pretty good, and the highest pain pill you can get at the Doc is Ibprofen 600.
Guy: My name's Casper. What's yours?
Me: Haley. Casper.. as in the friendly ghost?
Casper: No, the guy from Kids.
Me: *In my head: Wait this guys is way older then the movie Kids* Oh.... is that so... (backing away slowly)
Casper: Yea they were a bunch of f*cked up people, naming me after a rapist and all.
Me: Alright! Nice chatting with you, I gotta find a bathroom.

This guy WANTED to be known as the rapist from Kids, and that was the only person willing to have a conversation with me about this movement. That OWS.. was the face of your movement for me, A mid 30's rapist wannabe in a dirty fendora. Sigh.

Nowadays, it is very hard for me to think of this movement without thinking about the people in the movement. I didn't meet one person who incented any kind of hope or belief in this movement for me, and come to think of it the people that have, aren't directly involved with the OWS camp. Maybe they were doomed from the beginning, they wanted to be different.. and they may fail because of it.

OWS can't possibly think that the 1% is just going to say "Okay, you're right and we're wrong. So here's the money we took.", and they can't possible think that the money is just going to arrive at their door is a nice little package with the American Dream of being rich and powerful. But I really think they do, and to be honest- I kinda agree with Herman Cain (GOD HELP ME) on this.. "GO OUT AND GET A JOB." Because OWS will probably not succeed, and a guy with a super-sized check will not be appearing at your door.

A Single Mom without a College Degree who has no problem finding a J-O-B.

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