Yesterday was a national day of action for supporters of 2012 federal unemployment insurance extensions with demonstrations across the country from 2-3 p.m. I told my husband that I planned to lend to the numbers in a demonstration outside our local state representative’s office, but that I was not bringing a protest sign. That was not a problem because the organization We Are The People had a sign for me and all of the other demonstrators. Within minutes of meeting a few of my compatriots one of the organizers asked me if I would be willing to say something to the crowd because they did not have an unemployed woman on their speaker schedule. “Just 2 to 3 minutes”, he said. All of a sudden I faced backing up my values with action that could result in publicity. One of my former coworkers had already driven by, so I knew the rumor mill would be spinning within the hour, but risking publicity is daunting when I am hoping someone will hire me. The work world is a precarious and intimidating place with people becoming uber-compliant in hopes of keeping their pay. Being unemployed has made me careful, too (note the abbreviation of this blog’s author’s name). However when put to the test I will do what is “right”, to the frustration of many past acquaintances and sometimes to my detriment. Anyone who knows me would tell you that if you ask for my opinion I will offer it up 99% of the time, often ad nauseam because I deeply desire people to understand what I say. What began as 2 to 3 minutes speaking to my fellow demonstrators segued into a request from the Grand Rapids Press to print my name along with the picture on this post (we are praying), an interview request from a local labor paper, and another for an on camera interview with a reporter from a local news station. To say I was uncomfortable and nervous is like saying blue flames are hot. My only regret is that I had not prepared a statement, something I will be sure to think about PRIOR to attending future demonstrations. No matter how prepared though, I would never have anticipated a reporter asking me if in lieu of finding a job as an administrative professional a.k.a. secretary, I would consider becoming an apprentice plumber. I am sad when I hear remarks like, “if they spent more time looking for a job rather than protesting…” and “they should be willing to take work outside their field for less pay”. First of all, the slim number of jobs to apply for leaves me with some spare time. Secondly, every business needs secretarial work completed just as much as they need the toilets and faucets to not leak. Almost as much, anyway.
Proud of you for not just talking the talk but walking the walk.