WASHINGTON — I am the 1%. I am 22, working my way through school, attending part time and working full time. My mommy and daddy don’t pay for me to go to school. I pay my own rent. And even my own cell phone bill. I am the 1% of American youth.
Friday I started my day like any other. Wake up at 6:00 and get ready for work. Now, to those of you who have never worked a day in your life (millennials whose parents prefer to pay you than love you), this isn’t just throw on sweats and sit through class. This is make yourself presentable to the world with a shower, makeup, and even — god forbid — heels.
I spent the day sitting through a freedom convention at the D.C. convention center, meeting endless individuals to plead for names, email addresses, and donations to the 501(c)(3) that I work for. Every smile I made and every face I met, I thought to myself late afternoon, in two hours you get a TGIF drink. In three hours I can take a shower. In four, glorious bed.
When my 14-hour work day was over, I loaded up the 13 pounds of materials that I’d brought and would have to carry home and headed toward the doors of the convention center, working my way through the crowds of people trying to leave as well.
On reaching the ground floor I heard convention organizers telling us to remove our name tags. There were protesters outside and it was for our own safety. OK, fine, name tag off. Now, how do I hide the 3’x5′ American Spectator sign I was lugging? Oh well, I’m sure the protesters won’t notice it.
I picked up my things and turned toward the front door only to see punks banging on the windows, and convention goers ten deep being refused an exit. Not letting people out the front door? Fine, I’d try the back door. I headed in that direction, only to hear, halfway down the hall, more pounding on doors from the outside. A large security guard told me to turn around and head toward another door.
Of course lugging magazines, bags, signs, and other program paraphernalia is what I love to do, so what’s another extra few feet? I reach my new exit. Thank god doors opened. Dang, doors shut — right in my face. I hear a nervous security guard scream, “Call the PD!” Just the line every girl wants to hear on a Friday night.
After ten minutes of pleading with the guards to let me through, I’m greeted by shouts of “you should go to jail!” and “you got bailed out, we got sold out!” Funny, I don’t remember getting bailed out. My bank account doesn’t look bailed out, my pending student loans aren’t getting bailed out, and the name brands on the clothes these punks are wearing to yell at me versus the ones I worked in all day tell me these people are liars.
I’m directed to yet another exit. Picking up my load I follow several terrified elderly women being helped by their senior husbands up stairs, through a corridor, and down another flight of stairs only to face another door full of twenty-somethings blocking the exit.
At this point I was getting a little irritated. An irritation that grew when I was pushed back inside and had fists shaken in my face by men much bigger and physically stronger than me. I know D.C. is not known for its chivalry, but never before in my life have I faced little boys, posing as men, using physical force to intimidate women. Perhaps it was the long workday, perhaps it was the wine from dinner, maybe it was my feet tired from walking all over the D.C. convention center in heels, but this was the point at which I lost it. I screamed in frustration for these little punks to quite protesting and get a job. I yelled for them to just let me go home after doing an honest day’s work. I received the mature response of curses, being flipped off, and the ever so classy, chest exposure. (What does that even mean?)
Finally, I was directed to an open exit. Out the building and on my way home. Past a group of young male protesters, still hurling their insults.
All I could think was what a waste. What did this pathetic protest accomplish? Occupy D.C., was it your mission to terrify elderly women? Was it your goal to make a 22-year-old, unarmed woman fear leaving work and getting home on her own — in her own neighborhood? Was it to entrap hundreds of convention goers inside the convention center so that next time you could burn the place down with them inside?
If I could I would have told them: I hope I’m not the only one-percenter. I will go to bed tonight praying that there are no more that 1% of you in the world. Because if I have to believe that there are more like you, more selfish punks with a complete, criminal disregard for other people, I dread what the future holds in store for our generation — and our country.