Democracy Meets Timeliness
This is what democracy and pathological timeliness looks like.
By now you’ve probably read more than enough about the Women’s March on Washington. Here’s what you might not know.
First, this was a solidarity march. There was spiritual solidarity on our CAMP bus, with everyone excited and motivated.
There was literal solidarity on the DC Metro train, with every inch filled by squashed humans. I may have had an affair with a woman I did not know.
I have been marching since I was 20 in1968 (Anti-Vietnam). Then the ERA March in ’75, the Pro-Choice March in 1986, LGBT March in ’87, ’93 and 2000.
This was different. Never, absolutely NEVER have there been so many people on Metro or in the streets, no matter what the official bean counters say. This was the biggest, most crowded protest EVER.
You couldn’t march, you could barely shuffle. You could not cut across the marchers without internal injuries, you could not see the trees for the forest of people, it was a moving mass of clothing, applauding hands, raised fists and waving signs. A great glob of progressives, oozing forward.
It was so overwhelming it made this old protester cry. And I outed myself as ancient when I told a man, with a child on his shoulders, about the time I sat on my father’s shoulders as President Truman rode by in 1952. I was four. Relax. Don’t do the math. The answer is 68.
When the man looked confused, my co-marcher said, “Truman was president a very, very long time ago.” With friends like that, who needs enemies?
We came upon a jumbo TV screen where, if we leaned left (always left!) we could almost see the screen, although there was a street light in the middle of our sight line. But I could hear Gloria Steinem (even older than me!) and Ashley Judd (brilliant and on fire!), and all the others,
It was so packed nobody was cold, nobody could move, there wasn’t even room to fall down.
So we listened, then inched forward in a slog-like mass, laughing, clutching our co-walkers to keep together. Only my pal’s rainbow hat saved us several times from separation.
My favorites: a 20 year old guy with a sweatshirt embroidered with “I’m marching for my grandchildren,” and the sign “You’re so vain you probably think this march is about you.”
Hundreds of people on a trestle bridge above us chanted, “This is what democracy looks like,” and we answered with the same chant as we flowed below.
We’d been told to head back to New Carrollton Metro at three, so our bus could leave for Rehoboth at four. With the still growing crowd I was sure we’d need way more than an hour, so I lobbied to leave at two.
Now, anyone who knows me understands that I am NEVER, ever late. It generally annoys people. If I’m even on time somebody is already getting ready to call the hospitals.
So I badgered my team, “We should head back now, I mean right now.”
They sort of agreed, as they saw the insane look in my eyes.
We headed toward the Smithsonian Metro, pushing our way upstream, through the mass of marchers surging our way. After a half hour of fighting the throngs (“Excuse us! Excuse us!) we finally got to the Smithsonian Station, and it was closed down due to overcrowding.
So we turned and battered our way toward the L’Enfant Plaza Metro. On our way we spied another jumbo TV screen. Omigod! Madonna had shown up! Omigod!
We started jumping up and down to her music like 12-year-olds at a Jonas Brothers concert. This was the biggest moshiest mosh pit ever.
Continuing to ram against the tide, we finally got to the end of a barely moving line and spent the next 45 minutes inching toward the metro. We got to the train platform, with less than 10 minutes to make it back to our bus on time. Holy crap, I was positively going to be late. I hyperventilated.
“Does this go to New Carrollton?” we screamed and the consensus was “Yes!” as we were literally sucked onto the train by the moving herd.
Again, the train was so packed I wound up with my head under some gentleman’s armpit as he hung on to the bar above and my back lodged against a polite, pierced and tattooed Millennial who kept me upright. We had paid rapt attention when our bus leader told us New Carrollton was the final train stop so not to worry.
By the time I saw a station named “Benning Road” I screamed. “Oh crap, we’re on the wrong train!!! And we’re going to be even LATER!!!”
Turns out, we were supposed to change to the Orange Line a few stops back. So we fought our way off the train at the next stop, ran to the other side of the track, got on going the other way, got off and transferred to get to New Carrolton.
I was having a full-blown melt-down by that time, knowing how late we were and not enjoying my Outward Bound aversion therapy tour. All those people on the bus would be waiting for our quartet. I was mortified!
We made it back, a total of one hour late. The gang on the bus applauded our arrival and did not throw things. I did a mea culpa down the aisle to my seat and for anybody that missed it, I am sooo, sooo sorry for being LATE!
So that’s my tale. I survived being tardy at the expense of my colleagues from CAMP, I was energized by the march, and I look at things this way: If I can take five minutes a day, every day, to enter the DIY Network Dream Home contest, I can spend five minutes every day calling legislators and working to protect all of our civil rights.
I still cannot believe I had to march again for this same s*it, different year. But I’ll be back if I have to.
Fay Jacobs is the author of As I Lay Frying—a Rehoboth Beach Memoir; Fried & True—Tales from Rehoboth Beach, For Frying Out Loud—Rehoboth Beach Diaries, and Time Fries—Aging Gracelessly in Rehoboth Beach.