By Doug Tarnopol
It all started in Paris. That’s where I first heard of Occupy Wall Street. My wife and I were on vacation in Europe for most of the month of September, enjoying the fruits of our luck and pluck. We’re not unemployed; we’re pretty much doing fine.
Wait a minute, you say, as did the reporters from Der Spiegel, Channel 2 in NYC, and others who interviewed me at OWS. If you’re doing OK, why are you here?
Like other love affairs, mine with OWS followed the usual trajectory. Admiration from afar. Approach. Gift-giving. Statements of support. Telling my friends how awesome the new love object is. Then, finally, union. At first, I gave money from Rhode Island. Then, I decided to rent a car, fill the trunk, and drive down to deliver it and introduce myself, shyly, tentatively.
The response was emotionally overwhelming — hugs, thanks, joy. For about $600 worth of socks, Neosporin, fleece, tampons. In my work terms, about four or five hours of private SAT tutoring. Good deal.
I returned the next couple of days, observing the organizational meetings, as anyone can on Livestream. That’s democracy in action, by the way, and that is the vaunted “point” of OWS: here, finally, is a demonstration of how you organize a polity, a factory, an office, a world: through conversation, with fairness, and ending up with what is known as “total buy-in” in the business world. Democracy, period. You know, what we’re all supposedly for.
But I was still on the outside, still a little shy. So, I went on the march on Wednesday. Amazing turn-out. Old, young; black, white, brown. You name a division, it was represented and, at least temporarily, effaced. Solidarity, period. You know, what we’re all supposedly for.
Returning with the march to Liberty Plaza, and once again wallflowering my way around the encampment, I gravitated back to the kitchen. I’d been shopping for them — more cutting boards, good knives, plastic plates. A grey-water system had sprung up overnight; more self-exemplification — here’s how you recycle and live within constraints. The older man at the sink looked beat. The makeshift sign next to him said something like, “Hey, bourgeois tourists — don’t just take pictures; join us!” Something clicked, and I finally made my move.
“Hey, let me take over.”
Relief and a big smile.