Monday, October 31, 2011

Protesting & Stuff

Working downtown, I sometimes have occasion to witness a demonstration intent on capturing the hearts and the minds of our city’s populace. The causes vary, but ironically my two favorite involve animals.

The first was a PETA demonstration protesting the consumption of animal meat. They chose to raise awareness by placing two androgynous youngsters inside Styrofoam meat packages outside City Hall while a slender blonde woman handed out pamphlets. The meat packages were startling accurate and the young participants were completely ensconced by industrial-grade cling wrap. I initially feared that the rally was in response to the barbeque chicken plates our custodian had been selling that week but it turned out to be a nationwide event. 

The effect of seeing young children covered in stage blood inside a ground-beef package was certainly startling, but I cannot say it did anything to curb my love of bacon. That being said, I do favor the ethical treatment of animals (delicious or otherwise) and believe that there is no excuse for unnecessary cruelty. I also oppose fur coats both because they are ridiculously expensive and I am not rapper.

The second protest had to do with an ordinance our city was considering that would limit the number of canines that could reside at a single location. If a citizen had more than nine dogs at their home they would have to acquire a breeder’s license in order to avoid a fine. Presumably, this was to encourage responsible pet ownership but many saw it as an unnecessary intrusion by the government into their private affairs.

Emotions ran high and as a dog owner I could appreciate their sentiment, but at the same time I am not sure that I would want their backyard adjacent to mine filled with a platoon of nocturnally-yapping Chihuahuas either.  There were some heartfelt speeches and several people brought their pets with them in a show of solidarity, even so it was less disturbing that “PETA meat” display.

The latest and most interesting involved the Unites States Postal Service. It is no secret that the digital age has been no friend of the post office and it is no longer the profitable or even self-sustaining entity that it once was. To staunch the bleeding, post offices across the county are being closed and there has even been talk of ending Saturday delivery.

These measures have met with understandable resistance from the half-million or so employees whose jobs are on the line and several of them congregated downtown to protest the cost saving measures. I encountered them as I was leaving work one night and came to a four-way stop where groups in matching “Save Postal Jobs” shirts were chanting and holding signs with slogans like “Support Postal Workers” and “Save Jobs Now.”

One participant actually approached my vehicle and motioned toward me their “Support the Post Office” sign as if to goad me into action. I almost wanted to roll down the window and ask how exactly I was to do that other than taking the mail. I would even miss Saturday delivery as it gives me a possible six days to receive my Netflix disc. Judging by my own mail, I would have assumed that the revenue stream from Victoria’s Secret alone would have kept the postal service financially solvent well into the next century. 

I can think of one area that I am less than pleased with the postal service: package delivery. If you have ever ordered something online there is nothing you dread more than getting a shipment notification that your purchase has been sent US Mail. This practically guarantees it will circumnavigate the continental US while the tracking ID gives you a delivery estimate vague enough to encompass the entire MLB post-season. Even constantly checking the website is little comfort since the only information it provides is that they distinctly remember taking possession of a package addressed to you but after that things get hazy. 

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