Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Overdue Black Friday Recap

So, as you may recall (heh heh, I said 'recall'), I was up north for deer season on Black Friday and ended up driving about an hour to the nearest shopping metropolis, Eau Claire, in order to properly occupy Black Friday with my recall Walker petitions. I wanted to be as dedicated as shoppers, but I settled with arriving shortly before 2:00 a.m. and set up on the sidewalk in front of Jo-Ann Fabrics, which wasn't open but which faced the main exit from Best Buy. During this time, I received what has been to date the most compelling defense of Walker's actions by one of his supporters. A curly-headed youth, possibly old enough to vote, stuck his head out of a passenger window and yelled, "Fuck you, Walker's the shit, Bitch!" Indeed, son, indeed.

I only got a handful of signatures in two hours, then decided I needed a bathroom break and a brief warm-up. I thought about checking in with the locals, but the volunteers I'd noticed collecting signatures near Target were gone. I'd planned to fill my car up with gas, too, but it turns out the gas station by WalMart never got the memo about midnight sales, and since pay-at-the-pump doesn't take cash, I settled on using the bathroom in the mall instead. Security was crawling all over the parking lot--later I'd hear from local volunteers that petition circulators had already been ousted from the property. I got a hot piece of pizza, left the parking lot, and decided I might rest in another parking lot for a bit in the car before trying again.

Around 6:00 I tried the gas station again and was able to fill up. While I was waiting for the bathroom, a woman noticed that I was wearing my Recall Walker Volunteer badge on my coat zipper like a ski pass and she struck up a conversation with me, then followed me to my car to sign the petition.

Since my mother, who is anti-recall, had announced that she wanted to be at Jo-Ann's at 6:00 when they opened, I decided I'd try something over in Chippewa Falls for a bit to minimize conflict. I realized the courthouse wasn't going to be open for the day and the library wouldn't be open for hours. I drove back to the Golf Road area of Eau Claire and stopped in to check with the fresh batch of recall volunteers who had taken over the location near Target. The amazing women there were a pleasure to talk to and let me know that the volunteers before them had collected around 90 signatures. There were now volunteers across the street by Kohl's, too, but as I drove into the parking lot to thank them, a manager was coming out with what I imagine was a 'concerned citizen.' While their table was not on Kohl's property, people were driving up behind them in the parking lot and honking for them to bring the petitions to them in their vehicles, which technically removes them from public property. I had to settle with a democra-beep and hoped that they'd make out OK. When I got back to Jo-Ann's and Best Buy, both sides of the sidewalk were occupied. I parked in a lot, talked to volunteers on my side of the road, then walked down towards Oakwood Mall.

There is a public sidewalk around the mall. There's only a small portion of it extending along the side onto which Highway 53 dumps its mallbound traffic, but there was an Olive Garden lot, then empty, right behind me, which meant that anyone who needed a place to park while they signed could manage easily. There was a mixed result from the traffic, as expected, but I was in the bounds of public property, and no police or security came to shoo me off. Twice women in their 30s to early 40s rolled down their windows, got ready to yell something at me, made eye contact, and chickened out. Maybe it's the smile, maybe it's the fact that I reportedly look 10 years younger than I should, maybe it was simply realizing I am, in fact, a real person, but whatever they thought I needed to hear suddenly evaporated from their lips. While I got a lot of yelling from vehicles, no one actually got out and harassed me, since shopping for bargains was clearly more important. I felt bad for one couple who had stopped to sign. A passing motorist screamed, "Get a job!" They said that they'd just been laid off and were at the mall to do exactly that.

Since I was planning on going hunting in the woods for the afternoon, I decided to call it a signature-gathering day at about ten with 26 signatures. It was a small amount for the number of people who had passed by, but better than nothing, and I tipped the nearby volunteers off to the success I'd had with the mall sidewalk. These would be the only signatures that I would collect on my trip up north. My afternoon hunt wasn't much better, since my gun jammed after my first shot at a small buck, but my cousin on the next stand over dropped it, and I was able to bring home a side of venison for our larder after all.

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