Today was a fabulous day for numbers for me--I managed to snag 100 even, which is more than my past three days combined. This was my first really successful day standing in front of a business on the public sidewalk. Both times I tried this at Pick N Save, I had one signature per hour. In front of Fleet Farm today, I collected my 100 signatures in less than six hours. I showed up sometime between noon and one, ran out of petitions at three and ran back to HQ, and was back with more by 3:30. I hiked back to my car around six.
I had a two-sided "Recall Walker: Sign Here" sign duct-taped to a broom with the handle tucked in my coat pocket, making it visible just over the top of my head, one side neon red, one bright blue. I'd heard a rumor that someone had been chased out of the parking lot earlier, so I'd parked somewhere else and walked to the sidewalk. I wore my Trap & Trail magazine shirt, my treebark hunting boots, and had the blaze orange fleece remnant from the custom gun case a sewed a couple years ago for myself--it doubles as a scarf when it's not on the gun, so you always have your case when you reach a vehicle. I'm not sure how long it took to attract a signer--probably only 10-15 minutes--and then things started hopping. At one early point I had six or seven signers gathered together on the sidewalk at once.
I had a lot of public responses to standing there, both good and bad. Lots of beeping and thumbs up, lots of thumbs down and a few free birds, and I did have a few 'gentlemen' yelling out their windows. Some yelled about Walker: "He's the best thing that ever happened to this state!" and "How can you recall a man for doing his job?" were favorites among his supporters. Others liked to try for personal attacks. "Stop wasting my tax money!" "Get a job!" I smiled and waved at both. "Get a life!" I smiled and yelled cheerfully, "Thanks! I already have one!" I flashed peace signs and blew kisses to a few other rowdies.
The worst behaved included a handful of young bucks in a Cadillac who had to yell out the window, drove back, cruised the parking lot, and came back to deliver more. For their last volley, they yelled, "You queer!" I laughed and shot back, "Thanks! Oh, did you mean that as an insult?" I think it bothered them that a half dozen people were waiting to sign. My other worst trouble maker of the day was also a homophobic bully. When he first pulled into the drive nearby, he rolled down his window and started yelling. This left a vehicle that was turning behind him stuck in traffic. I hollered to him, "Sir, I'd be happy to discuss it with you, but you're blocking traffic. Park and come talk to me." Apparently he went and did his shopping first, because I'd forgotten about him until he came tromping up later, mouth blowing full steam. I'm guessing from his tax diatribe that he's probably heavy duty tea party. Claimed to be self-employed with a successful business and paying more than 50% in taxes. Doesn't send his kids to public schools because you won't learn anything there. He was the kind of blowhard who doesn't let you answer back and insists on yelling over anything you say, simply because he feels self-entitled. Self-entitled to block traffic, self-entitled to spout whatever he wants and interrupt the other party instead of having an actual discussion. He got into it with two of the three signers left around me, maybe thinking he'd make them uncomfortable enough to leave without signing. I actually thought an older gentlemen who was signing the petition at that time was going to punch the whistling tea kettle, who was probably in his 40s. The blowhard stuck around, and when I turned my back on him he proceeded to move around in front of me. At one point he asked me what I do for a living, and when I answered it was none of his business, his response was, "You don't do a damned thing." I only half-listened as he continued to get all steamed up (somebody tip him over and pour him out already), and then he had to go on about his two friends who got jobs with the county, I think, and the only reason they kept those jobs is that they were "pussy jobs."
Those of you who know me might know what happened next. I interrupted him, which he hadn't been ready for since I'd just let him run unchecked at the mouth, so I actually managed a few words before he was talking over me again. "I'm sorry, did you say 'pussy' and mean 'weak'? Because a pussy is tougher than a testicle any day." It didn't register with him, and he went on again to explain what pussy jobs they were and how his friends were worthless (I wish his so-called friends could hear him), and I said, "Look, a pussy is way tougher than a testicle. Go grab a hammer and I'll prove it. Go on, get a hammer, I bet my pussy can take a lot more punishment than your testicle." At this point something started to sink in, though I'm not entirely sure what, and Ima L. Teapot backed away toward the parking lot shaking his hands in front of him, saying, "Great, just what we need, another homosexual!" and kept retreating while tossing gay slurs my way. I just shook my head at this non sequitur and was glad for the ensuing lull.
Encounters like these make me wonder at some people's mindsets. I'm certain that this man was a bully in high school, and he feels justified because the people he bullied had it coming to them. Of course, most misogynists and homophobes do feel that way. I still marvel at people who think that calling me gay is going to insult me. There's nothing wrong with being gay, so I don't find it insulting at all. When homophobes calls me gay, I tend to thank them and don't try to deny their assertion. As a heterosexual woman, I recognize that I have the advantage of invisible privileges that don't extend to my homosexual brothers and sisters. I feel that trying to correct someone like Mr. Steamed Up only reinforces his idea that calling someone gay is bad, because, in his tight little book, being gay is bad. Since he wasn't open to logic or to listening, and I wasn't giving him the response he wanted, he tried to get under my skin by trying to get under my sexual orientation. It was easier for him to save face by shrinking away from my imaginary gay cooties than it was to admit that he couldn't even win at picking a fight, let alone the battle itself. I'm sure he told his buddies something completely different, even his two worthless friends with the pussy jobs. That his behavior is evidence of his own insecurity will probably never occur to him.
Later, the older gentleman beeped and waved when he drove out of the parking lot after he and his wife finished their shopping. "I just wanted to make sure that jerk didn't punch your lights out!" I laughed and waved. I still wonder if he'd stuck around after signing if he might have ended up punching out Teapot's lights.
There were lots of wonderful people to meet, though. I was excited to have a woman stop by with her daughter, who had just turned 18, and I was happy to tell her that she could sign even though she wasn't registered to vote yet. I was honored to witness her first official election-related act as an adult. Another woman saw me and used the roundabout to make a U-turn to come back to sign. A man from UAW-578 stopped by, and we talked a little about the marches and rallies earlier this fall. A former Fleet Farm employee signed and asked me if they'd given me any grief, since he knew they were really strict about solicitations on premises. Earlier a woman who'd been in Fleet Farm had said to me that they were inside trying to figure out a way to get rid of me, but that they couldn't because I was on the public sidewalk.
No one officially said anything to me until I'm guessing the night supervisor came on shift around twilight, and he walked over to tell me that he respected my right to be on the sidewalk as long as I respected that there was private property behind me. "We have a strict no solicitations rule." He started looking around. "I don't see a car over here, you aren't parked in the lot are you?" I think he hoped I'd say yes so he could have a way to get rid of me, but I was truthfully able to say that I had parked somewhere else and walked over. I'd done my best to stay on the sidewalk and let people come to me for the past 80 signatures.
Even though I wore long underwear under my jeans, I started to shiver just a little toward the end. After the manager talked to me, there was a brief lull, and I thought about calling it a night, but I didn't want to leave right after he'd talked to me. Then people started to stop again, though I was stuck for a while at 95 and had to challenge myself to stay out for a full 100. After I got home and was going over my signatures to see if corrections were needed, I noticed a surname that matched someone in my husband's fantasy football league. "Huh, I wonder if this guy is related to Lippy?" My husband asked, "What's the name?" I told him. "That IS Lippy!" Since I've only met him in passing twice, I hadn't recognized him at the time.
So, I ended my day with 100 new signatures and a running total of 196 for the week. That seems like a big number, but I know that my signature-Yoda, Bob, has more than 260 so far, and he'll be in Madison tomorrow at the big rally and will probably come home with even more. I have Emerge training in Milwaukee this weekend. I'm looking forward to learning with and from amazing women, and then I'll be back on the recall circuit, possibly with hammer in hand.