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60 Years Of 8 Hour Days

My May Day Experience
May Day 2001

I am the kind of guy that hates it when he goes to McDonald's and is accosted by the veggie police. "The veggie police?" you ask. You know the ones. The people who have big signs and stand between you and a number three with bacon and one of those ice cream things with candy in it that they always get wrong, but you eat it anyway because it costs about three bucks. These people stand there, hands on hips, attitudes of Greek gods, and they proclaim that YOU are evil because you are eating meat. Not only am I eating meat, but these cows are apparently related to us in some way, and they have pamphlets about it and everything, and the truth is I could care less. Get out of my way. I don't have time to think about any of this. I am young, dumb, and hungry as hell. That's the way I am about a lot of things, and I'm sure that there's lots of people out there that are like this. I do not condemn these people, because I'd be condemning myself. However, it doesn't mean it's a good way to go about living. But, I am not an activist.
This past Tuesday, I went to the May Day parade. Rally. Demonstration. Whatever. I recently got involved with Independent Media Center and I hopped on the bus and made my way downtown to document this event. I am not an activist. My girlfriend's mom invited us. My girlfriend and I, having absolutely nothing to do but wanting to be part of something, went. I have this thing about being in large crowds or mobs. It happens to me all the time. It happens at concerts, movie theatres, football games, etc. I dislike going with the crowd. I guess it's because I feel at times, like I will lose my individuality, as if perhaps, by joining in with the hurrahs and boos, a magical leaf will turn slowly and fall from my brain and turn me into human cattle. Indecisive? Insecure? Naaaaaah...
This feeling of not wanting to follow the crowd entered my brain on May Day. I tried to remain objective about it all. I took my camera, which is the best way to be objective about an event that large. The lens stood between me and the people, their madness, their issues, their voice, and their energy. At one point, a group of anarchist kids separated from the crowd, went off of Broadway down Salmon. My girlfriend, who was braver (and can I say dumber without getting in trouble?) and wanted the news, followed them. I followed her because her family knows where I live and if anything would've happened to her, I would be dropped into some ice cold river off of I 205, never to be heard from again. I saw the bike cops following the kids. We turned the corner and there were the kids in front of Banana Republic. There was a moment of quiet, and you could hear the fear coming off of the manager's skin. He stood in front of the double doors, leaning on the door frame, as if he was used to masked teenagers getting ready to do something horrible to his place of work. His eyes never stared at one thing for more than half a second. Nothing happened, though. The leader of the anarchist kids, for some reason or other, just turned and got back on Broadway. Maybe he was chicken, maybe he saw the cops, maybe he was smart. I don't care. Nothing happened and that's fine with me.
We turned the corner, got back with the parade and went all the way to PSU where some lady asked us if we'd heard the speech outside about not buying coffee from Starbucks. My girlfriend and her mom looked down at their fresh, steaming, Starbucks Coffee cups. Oh no! Good god! We're drinking those bastard's coffee! And making ourselves warm. Kill us, please. I didn't have any coffee, but I wish I did. It's just coffee, you know? We went back outside, got on the bus, went to McDonald's and went home, where I slept nice and sound.
I got my film developed a couple days later and I saw a picture of the anarchist kids. I thought about how I'd followed my girlfriend into whatever might have happened. I thought how mindless it was. How it was kind of stupid. Then I thought about how I did it because I care about her and I really just wanted to make sure she was safe. Then, I saw a picture of a man holding a sign that read THANKS and another picture of him, and the other sign of the poster. It read FOR MY 60 YEARS OF 8 HOUR DAYS. It struck me for a second. I'd been wondering what the people there were fighting for. I mean, isn't it good enough to have a job? I don't mean stop whining about horrible conditions and be glad you have a job. It just seemed kind of distant to me. I thought about working 8 hour days for 60 years. I thought about how sometimes you fight and march and stand and follow something you believe around corners, no matter what might happen, and I kind of felt like a dick.
Your Girlfriend 05.May.2001 18:19

Ben Adams

I can't tell if you went after your girlfriend because you care for her or you felt a sense of obligation because her parents "know where you live". To say she was dumber is, indeed, a but rude. More naive, I think, would be a more accurate term. Respect her, for Chrissake!!