Trump’s inauguration was difficult. For a lot of us, it was hard to believe in a lot of ways and for a lot of reasons, and everyone processes that differently. My grief process (yes, that is grief!) is longer than most, so it took me a long time to stop being upset and turn that into power. The gloomy morning of the actual ceremony, I woke up and saw all the news alerts on my phone and with tears welling in my eyes, I literally pulled the covers over my head like one of those cringeworthy sitcom-y trite Meg Ryan rom-com moments.
I eventually remembered that I needed to go to work, and if I didn’t do that, I wouldn’t have money. And without money, I couldn’t pay rent. And without paying rent, I would be homeless. I’m not letting our new leader make me homeless on his first day in office!
So I pulled it together, showered and got dressed, and got started for the day. My first trip was an older Hispanic guy who barely spoke English, but voted for Trump and wanted to talk about it. At this point, I think I’m well within my rights to tell him he’s a fucking idiot for voting against his own interests.
Let’s do this. I told him, “He’s a horrible human being, but I’m not really truly worried deep down. He’s not going to be President for long. Not that we want Mike Pence, the Devil’s closeted little brother. But at the very least, he is simply only terrible, disgusting, bigoted bad policy. He’s not a combination of that and an irresponsible child who would get a tweet from Justin Bieber and say, ‘Let’s nuke Canada!'”
The guy in the back seat scrunches up his face, confused at the reference. “Who?” he asks. I’m exasperated and angry at this point and my mouth can hardly keep up with my brain as I’m reading this guy his rights. “Justin Bieber! It doesn’t fucking matter, it could be fucking anybody!”
That’s when the guy looks a little closer at me, narrowing his eyes. “No, the other guy.”
“Wait, wait. You fucking voted for Trump and you don’t know who Mike Pence is? This conversation is over.”
The guy gets out of the car, and I’m amazed, bewildered, saddened, and hopeless as to how stupid our society has become. I hold back a tear and decide that I’m just going to be a driver today – nothing more, nothing less. No conversations, just confirming names and destinations, and telling them I hope they have a good day (or at least a better day than mine).
I pick up the next passenger and it’s a woman headed to the airport. I confirm her name, help with luggage (grrr…), confirm her destination and off we go! A minute or so in, she seems eager to chat, so she gets started. “I’m excited to fly today! I haven’t been to Washington, DC in a long time.”
I don’t say anything, but she continues. “Thankfully, I won’t be there for the inauguration. You couldn’t pay me to sit there through that fucking shit show.”
I breathed a huge sigh of relief as if to say, “You’re one of the good ones!” and told her about our clueless friend from the previous ride.
“Yeah, I’m actually meeting up with some old college friends and we are going to the Women’s March tomorrow.”
At this point, I had a laundry list to say to her:
- Thank you for doing this. It means everything.
- Some people, like me, are too sad and emotionally exhausted to march.
- Some people, like me, can’t even afford to take the day off.
- Some people, like me, are worried about things getting violent at the march, like a counterprotester attacking.
- But it means everything to know that there are people in cities across the country and even the world, standing up for the rights of the people who can’t stand on their own yet, be it out of fear, sadness, or finances. And it’s beautiful to see neighbors in my own city doing it.
Now approximately 3-5 seconds into that speech, I start ugly crying. I search for tissues in the glove compartment and apologize. “I’m *sniff* so so *wahhhhh* sorrrrrrrryyyy.”
The woman stops me, and puts her hand on my shoulder very firmly, and gives me the kindest and most empowering speech.
“Honey, first off. Stop apologizing. Don’t ever fucking apologize for your feelings. Let it out. Let it all out! Listen, your head’s in the right place and so is your heart. When your body’s ready, you’re gonna be out there marching with us. In the meantime, do what you need to get by. You’re helping in your own way by driving for Uber.”
Well if I said that, it’d be a copout, but sure. I’ll take it.
“People need to get to these protests. They need to get to the airport. Without you, they can’t do that. When you’re ready, I’ll see you out there.”
The next day, Los Angeles outgrossed the Women’s March in DC. We had over 750,000 people in downtown LA showing their resistance. It was another day filled with tears, but for the opposite reason. It was the first day I’d felt hope in a long time. I met strong women, beautiful immigrant families, and empowered LGBT people. It was a beautiful day.
In LA, nobody meets their neighbors because if you want to borrow a cup of sugar from them, you have to hop on the 101 for two exits. I had moved into this place several months earlier and had never seen any neighbors. But this day, I saw people coming out in droves from the big buildings on my block with huge picket signs. “Leave the pussy control 2 Prince!,” “This pussy grabs back,” and my personal favorite, “We shall overcomb.”
It was a beautiful day that left me hopeful.