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Jon

April 2000

Hey everyone. I hope you're all doing well and had a nice March. I certainly did. I found a new job and got rid of an absolutely HORRID one.

Now, I know what you're thinking, "How could a job be so horrid that it deserves to be written all in caps?!" Okay, well, you probably aren't thinking that, but I'll tell you anyway. You see, my old job was quite... unique.

My official title was "Human Directional." Confused? I'll explain: I was a sign. Yep, a human sign. Every weekend for 4-6 hours, I'd stand on a corner (hey, be nice) with an enormous arrow-shaped sign and wave it at cars passing by in an attempt to get them to go look at models of homes in new housing tracts in the area. Really, this was my job. I can't begin to describe how utterly mind-numbing it was. I did this for an entire year!

See, in my city there is an over-abundance of teenagers, and a severe lack of jobs. People literally have to fight to get jobs at Burger King. Another charming fact about my city is that there is nothing to do here. We're rural, yet have all the charm of a big city (Violence, trash everywhere, and homeless people). Across the street from my high school, there were cows. (This being Southern California, they weren't normal farm cows, of course. They were actor-cows. When they need cows for a TV show or movie, they rent them from there.) People seem to think that all of California is a wonderful land of sun, stars, and sand. Well, yeah, we get a lot of sun here (Lancaster, where I live, is in the middle of the Mojave desert), and we have plenty of sand, just no ocean to go with it. Anyway, I digress.

Being that there's nothing to do, a favorite pastime of a few people here was to torment me while I worked. I'd be standing out there holding my sign, trying to lose consciousness to make time pass more quickly, and next thing I know, there'd be a riced-out Honda hatchback full of people that look like Britney Spears wanna-be's and guys on their way for a boy-band audition pulled up next to me. The passenger window would roll down and I'd be laughed at, and then asked something really rude, or just plain dumb. Now, I can understand people laughing at me, I mean, hey, I was a human sign, but the rest was just really annoying. People would ask me how much money I make, which I think is rude, or they'd ask me directions to extremely insane locations. One time some lady pulled up to me with a car full of screaming kids and asked me "Hey kid, what street do I take to get to Disneyland?." (Disneyland is about 140 miles or 2 hours away from here). I tried not to laugh and directed her to a gas station where she could buy a map.

Other interesting places I've been asked directions for: Las Vegas, "That one church with the blue window in the front", Hwy 300 (there's no such thing), and "Cousin Melanee's house" (they had no clue where Cousin Melanee lived, they just assumed that since I was holding a big sign, that I'd know her, of course. )

Things were even worse when I had to work in a near-by city called Rosamond. That place makes Lancaster look like Paradise. The big news of the year there was that they got their first supermarket. Yay! The people who live there are either in the military or enjoy being hermits. A new housing development opened there, and I was sent to attract some attention to the new houses... Well, I wasn't needed; the new houses were the biggest thing to happen there since the supermarket. There was a live radio-broadcast, a party, and a WEDDING held there that day. It was insane, people were having the time of their lives all because some company decided to build 30 poorly-made, over-priced, and badly decorated houses.

Anyway, what made it so much more annoying to work there was the fact that I was the 3rd biggest thing to happen in Rosamond that year, or so it seemed. Every weekend I worked there, people would drive by me 10 times and just wave and wave, or they'd pull up to me and say things like "Hot enough for ya?" or "You sure do look thirsty!." Now, I know they weren't trying to annoy me on purpose, it's just that I'd have headphones on, and music blaring, so you'd think it was pretty obvious I wasn't looking for conversation. At least no one ever asked me how to get to Disneyland.

Well, I'm done ranting now, I just thought you guys could get a few laughs from my former misery. I've got lots more stories about my human directional experience, but I think I've given you a pretty good idea how lame it was. My new job is at an Italian restaurant, and it's pretty fun.

Note: This next part of the article is a late addition to my submission, and was written a week after the previous paragraphs, thus the change in mood.

So, moving right along... Today is March 7th. Super Tuesday. For all of you who don't know, Super Tuesday is the day when California and 14 other states have their primary elections for the presidency. We also vote on various propositions. Here in CA we had to vote on Prop. 22, The Limits On Marriage Act. It basically states that only marriages between a man and a woman are valid or recognized in the state of California. Actually, that's all it says.

Let me tell you, as soon as I heard about this measure, I knew it would be an enormous pain in my ass. The prop is also known as The Knight Initiative, after it's author, "Pete" Knight. Pete Knight is an extreme leftist republican senator from Palmdale, a city in the Antelope Valley, where I live. Knight has tried to get this kind of law passed through the CA legislature for some time now, and each time it's been rejected. So, he sought out the help of some extreme-left business men and organizations and raised enough money to start a signature campaign to get Prop 22 to be placed on the primary ballot, and succeeded in doing so (Just so you know, one of his supporters believes that one should be subject to capital punishment for: adultery, swearing at one's parents or a police officer, and lewd conduct ( AKA having sex where someone can see you)). So, the pro and con campaigns began.

At first, I didn't quite realize what a big deal this would be, I thought "This is California, everyone here knows someone who's gay, this will never pass," and I didn't really let it bother me. Well, in February it became a big public issue, and brought out all the hidden ugly homophobia in CA. I live in an ultra-conservative area, (yes, sorry to burst everyone's bubble, but not all of CA is a friendly worldly place where everyone accepts everyone), where there are more churches than fast food restaurants. So, before long, there were all these little "Protect Marriage: Yes on 22" signs everywhere. I couldn't go anywhere without seeing them, and each one was like a kick to the stomach. There were none of the "Protect Love: No On 22" signs here, the few that were put out were torn down, but the Yes signs were too numerous to be torn down, though some of my friends tried.

Also, on the radio, and on TV, and in news papers I was BOMBARDED with ads that tried to make prop 22 out to be this non-hateful simple proposition that was "just common sense." They even had a bunch of kids on one ad with a little girl saying: "One day I want to grow up and buy a nice white dress and get married in a big church. If they let the gay people get married, I won't be able to do that" and all this other crap. I couldn't even do anything about it, anyone who put out a No on 22 sign here would be so severely harassed that they would be forced to take down the sign. Close friends of mine, who I thought I had influenced by my example told me they were voting yes on 22 because, while they think there's nothing wrong with being gay, we shouldn't be allowed to marry because it IS actually a sin and demeans marriage.

They couldn't understand why I was taking it so seriously ..... that's what hurt the most. Well, like I said, we voted on it today, and it passed with 66% of the votes in favor of it. I can't tell you how sad and infuriated and betrayed I feel right now. I can no longer say that I'm proud to be an American, to be a Californian.

I had faith in the system, I believed that it was my protector. My country has betrayed me today. It has down-right attacked me and said that I am not worthy of respect and equality. I feel so powerless and frustrated! I feel like screaming, I feel like crying, I feel like punching everyone who voted yes on 22 in the face so they can feel what I'm feeling right now. This is a turning point in my life, I will never view life with the same idealism, I will never again think of my government the same way. The words justice and government will never again be synonyms for me.

I really don't know how I can go out and face people tomorrow knowing that 66% of them went out and voiced the fact that they think that there is something wrong with me. I don't know how to deal with this, it's like the last straw. My whole life people have been telling me that there was something wrong with me, and up until now I'd been able to brush it off as the fodder of bigots and zealots, but now it's clear that the majority of people agree with them. I don't know, today is a day I will never forget, and I'll mourn the loss of my faith in my country dearly.

Jon D.

buko@networkone.net

AIM/AOL screename: JonCA19


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