Occupy Grand Junction started 10 days ago. Initially there was a panic among Tea Party activists who felt they had to counter the occupiers by getting a permit for the Old Courthouse location so they could occupy first. I encouraged the opposite. "Stay away from these guys," I suggested. "We don't want any association at all with them. We don't want to be seen in pictures with them and we don't want to share space with them. That would boost their credibility and harm ours. The local Tea Party and Liberty groups took some deep breaths, sat back, and watched the circus unfold.
I went down to the courthouse on the Monday after the sit in began, to drop off my mail-in ballot for our upcoming elections. I was intrigued by the milieu on the grass. There appeared to be a group of "organizers" splayed near the flag pole, planning the days important marches and discussing who should be their medial liaison. There was another group under the trees and pop-up shades who looked just to be sitting about, eating the generous donations of food that local supporters had lavished on them. All were dressed in what is best described as "hippie garb," tie dye, revolutionary slogan tee shirts, bedraggled and dreadlocked, and for the most part, filthy. I walked up to one young man who was wearing a tan hoodie and sporting a scraggly red beard and began to speak to him.
"Why are you here?"
"I am frustrated that no one cares." He replied, an edge of anger in his voice.
"Was there something that happened?"
"My boss fired me for screwing up and order..." he continued. And he told me the tale of how his job as a line chef had ended badly and that he had been "totally screwed-over" by the owner of the restaurant.
"I have friends in town who own restaurants. Would you like me to see if there are any openings?"
He paused, not really wanting to follow up with the obvious conclusion to his sob story--to find another job--but he said, "um, sure."
Another fellow came up to me and the young man with the tan hoodie. He was older, slightly inebriated, and more open to my suggestions.
"Why are you here," I asked the older man.
"Oh, I'm just homeless...laid off my construction job. I come up here because it is safer than where the other homeless guys hang out."
"Are you looking for work?"
"Yes, I have a lot of skills in construction. I can roof and drywall..." and proceeded to give me his resume of work experience.
I told him, "You know what, I will see what kind of construction jobs are open locally and I can bring you the listings. Would that be okay?"
"Oh yeah, that would be so nice of you. I hate this homeless s___!"
He asked if he could walk me to my car and I said "of course." I wished him good luck and promised that I would be back the following day with some job listings.
I returned the next day with some print outs of job listings. I approached the young man with the tan hoodie and asked if he would post them at their "organizer" booth for everyone to see. He seemed a little perplexed and reluctant. But he was kind enough to acknowledge my real desire to help.
I returned the next day with a neat binder full of local job listings, some pens and note pads. The original two men were not present but another man wearing "99%" buttons but otherwise kind of normal looking said he would love to make some money. I told him that I had some hedges that needed to be trimmed. He said he could do that so I got his number. I called him 3 times subsequently but have not gotten a response.
I returned 2 days later with another handful of job listings for the binder. I could not find the binder I had left, so I placed the printouts on the table.
This is an ongoing experiment. If the people at Occupy Grand Junction have any sense of self, any human conscience that impels them to be accountable for their own lives, they will cease the demands that the government steal from earners, to give them what they want. I am hoping that there is a kernel of shame within some of the occupiers. They could turn a little shame and introspection into the power to choose and create a life for themselves. But they languish in a stew of contrived victimization and self-imposed helplessness.
I will return again tomorrow to see if my efforts to point these able bodied fishermen to the waterholes where they can catch their own fish bears any fruit. I wonder if they realize that if they get their way we will all be camped out in the dirt, filthy, and groveling at the feet of big government.
By Marjorie Haun 10/23/2011
Please visit http://reagangirl.com