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Tabling

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Tuesday evening, I went tabling: stood with four or five co-workers (none of whom I'd met before in person, but one, D, I'd exchanged email with) at the Mountain View CalTrain station, holding up a No On 8 sign as the trains arrived. I got there late, around 6ish p.m. I think, and we only stayed 'til 7.

Most of it was an exhilarating experience. I didn't have to say anything, just walked around with the sign, smiling at people.

Quite a few people hurried past, with that sort of "if I look like I'm in a hurry maybe they won't try to talk to me" kind of thing that I too sometimes do when I think someone might be about to hit me up for contributions to or participation in their cause and I don't want to deal with them. And some stared blankly out the train window, possibly not really paying attention to what was outside; I've been there too. And others looked out at us with poker faces, not giving away whatever they might've been thinking.

But a remarkable number (quite a lot more than I expected) made eye contact, and many or most of those smiled, and quite a few of them said things like "Thank you for doing this." Several people sitting on the trains, looking out the windows, smiled and gave us thumbs-up signs. One guy wearing an "I voted" sticker came and joined us for a while. A few people asked for lawn signs and/or stickers.

One guy walked straight up to D and engaged her in an animated ten- or fifteen-minute discussion. I drifted close to listen to part of it, just to make sure things were okay; but he was clearly paying attention to what D was saying, and the bit I overheard was him repeating it back to her in detail to make sure he understood. He wanted her to explain to him why same-sex marriage should be legal. We later asked D what the deal was; it turned out the guy was deeply conflicted, because his libertarian beliefs told him that same-sex marriage should be legal, but his religious beliefs told him that homosexuality was wrong. She said that she thought his mind was made up from the start; but it sounded like it was a good conversation anyway, and I'm hoping it gave the guy some food for thought.

Shortly before 7, we decided to close up shop, but then one more train arrived, so we grabbed our signs again and I walked down the platform toward the front of the train, holding up the sign so the people getting off and the people staying on could see it. I got several more thumbs-ups, and either a peace sign or a V-for-victory, I'm not sure which. I was grinning steadily by this point--the whole time I'd been there had been really energizing. I had worried briefly, early on, about how I would react if anyone said or did anything hostile, but everyone had been in the range from neutral to enthusiastic.

The train started to pull out, and I headed back to our table. And then the train stopped, and the doors opened again, and they started operating the wheelchair lift, so I figured I'd do one more pass all the way up to the front of the train, where I hadn't quite made it before. I went up there, and got a grin and a thumbs-up from a passenger, and started walking back as the train began to pull out again.

And in the second or third car back, a guy sitting on the upper level of the train scowled at me, and carefully and deliberately flipped me the finger.

I kept grinning, more out of reflex and surprise than anything else, and kept walking. I didn't tell the others when I got back to the table; it had been such a good evening that I didn't want to bring down everyone else's moods. And it didn't upset me all that much; I'd had a solid hour of positive interactions to cushion me.

But it still threw me a little.

Still, overall the evening was a really good experience; I'm glad D sent out a note asking for others to join her. I may try and do it again sometime in the next couple days.

6 Comments

Congrats for doing this. As an Aussie who has no say in it at all, I hope you've made some impact, and in general I hope this horribly regressive proposition doesn't get through.


I think you may find this interesting or amusing.

I started reading your entry, and hadn't registered your LJ name at the top. I'm reading through, very happy to hear about the positive aspects of your experience, and then I thought "Who's writing this?" and went back to the top. I was surprised to see your name -- only because I know you tend to be shy, and this is really putting yourself out into a potentially uncomfortable situation.

So thank you! I'm so glad the experience was largely positive. I sent what money I could to the cause about a week and a half ago. I hope it does some good. I can't tell you how critically important I think this is.


Thank you, Jed.


Thanks for the notes, all.

Amy: Yeah, this would normally not be something I would do. But the No campaign around here seems to be largely focused on tabling right now, and D made clear that I wouldn't have to speak or interact with anyone if I didn't want to, and this campaign is pretty important to me, so I decided to give it a try.


Thanks for doing this, and thanks for the description of how it went. I've signed up to do some of this tomorrow morning in Oakland, so it's good to hear experiences -- especially from someone else who normally wouldn't do this kind of thing.


It's amazing to me how polarized the election feels this year. Far more than past years, I think, and about so many things. I've been very gratified by the numbers of people voting, too. Record turn outs!

I'm in Texas, so Prop 8 doesn't effect me directly, but I think you're doing a good thing. I think of myself as a moderate Christian, but I don't think my religious beliefs should be legislated on everyone else. Besides, the people that tell me homosexuality is wrong all enjoy their bacon and the laws against both in the Old Testament are in the same chapter. If you're going to pick one to believe so strongly, why pick the one that causes so much pain? I'd rather give up bacon and, frankly, that's not happening any time soon. So, I say, let same-sex marriages stand. Let everyone be able to know the joy, and heartache, of marriage, or domestic partnership or whatever you want to call it.

Thanks for caring enough about something to step outside your comfort zone.


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