The Battle for the WPA is Won

Technically, my browbeating USPS workers started with the Great Depression. To battle the Great Depression, the government flooded the economy by any means necessary. That included paying artists to make everything from cookbooks to vacation posters. What a legacy.

When I found out that USPS was releasing a set of WPA stamps, I had to have them. I saw the sign before the release, and demanded, politely, the release date from my postal worker. I went to the post officer a week later to make sure they hadn’t been released early. They hadn’t.

Between one thing and another, it took me two months to get back. When I did, my cashier claimed that he didn’t have any WPA stamps. I calmly suggested he check, and watched while he hunted down his supervisor. He returned to inform me that his office didn’t have any. In a small and sad I voice, I asked if he could check every cashier’s window, just in case. He did.* Then he had to tell me that there was not a single WPA stamp in his post office. I thanked him, accepting that I’d lost the battle. But I did not believe I had lost the war.

I held my head high and went to another post office. The same sad, sad scene repeated itself. The cashier suggested I just accept that there were no more WPA stamps, but I could buy the nice new flower bouquets or slap-happy cinco del mayo ones. Thanks, but no thanks. She thought I walked away in defeat. But I had one more trick up my sleeve.

“Excuse me?” I inquired back at her window a moment later.

She raised her eyebrows at me.

“There’s a set in the display case. Of WPA stamps. I’ll take them,” I said sincerely, as though she’d suggested it herself.

She raised her eyebrows again, and told me I’d need to get an employee to open the case for me. The employee I dragooned into helping me asked for a ruler, since the small opening in the display case was as far from the stamps as could be. I gave him a newspaper. He gave me a look, and with some considerable effort, got out the stamps. Pretty pleased, he stood with me as I made my purchase, telling me about the WPA murals on the walls surrounding us. We agreed they were good, and I told him it was probably because the artist was from Pittsburgh. I pointed him to the plaque which explained the art’s history, which he appreciated. Sadly though, I couldn’t tell him if the artists’s family was still in the Steel City.

Thus, with perseverance and persuasion, did the WPA thrive. Also, that’s how I got my stamps.

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*USPS workers fall over themselves for pleasant customers. Their days are hell, so if you don’t yell at them – and give something resembling a smile – they’ll spend the entire day helping you.

I Support You

When I turned 18, I registered to vote. At 18 and  one day, I began my one-woman campaign to register people to vote. I asked everyone my age if they were registered. If they weren’t, I got them a voter registration application – which I picked up in bulk quantities. I never volunteered with an organization, I never asked anyone’s politics, and I didn’t take no for an answer. I believed that every citizen had the right to vote, and if they were not yet registered it was because they didn’t understand the difference they could make. Every vote counts. Every citizen’s voice can be heard. Registering means you get to choose who will represent you – which determines everything from when the snow gets plowed to if there’s a nuclear holocaust.

 

 

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Really, voting is about making sure we all get quality time with the Roving Art Cart, Pittsburgh’s summer arts program which provides free craft workshops in the city’s parks. That, and avoiding nuclear holocaust. (Photo credit: City of Pittsburgh)

 

When I was young I supported voter registration. Now, I just support you.

I support your right not to register to vote. As long as it’s your own vote, it’s your right to withhold it. If you don’t think you can make a smart decision about the person who will represent you – on the school board, as mayor, or as president – then you need to educate yourself. But it’s also your right to not care about your future. It’s your right to be uninformed or even misinformed. You can care so little yourself – for your right to vote, travel freely, purchase a home, or buy cheap goods from China – that you aren’t willing to decide who will help create the future in which you want to live. If you choose to turn a blind eye to the world around you, then I will stand with you and your decision. If you choose to let others select the people who determine if you deserve to get clean water or breathable air, I respect that that is your choice to make. It’s a bad one, but I’ve learned that I can’t help you. I can, and do, support your right to vote. But if you don’t care enough to register yourself, then I’m not going to help you do it. Because if you don’t think it’s important to register to vote, to be able to exercise your right to change the course of history and snow removal, then I don’t trust your judgement to elect anyone.

For those who still want to vote in the 2016 Presidential Election, but don’t know how to make that happen, today is a great day to register. And here’s the place where you can sign up to vote and leave this country better than you found it.

Happy National Voter Registration Day