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Occupying Wall Street In Boone: Act 3

November 8, 2011 Leave a comment

R.I.P.

First, some history for the sake of context. Starting in Winston-Salem, NC in 1879, Wachovia was a North Carolina staple of banking. If you live in the state and want the biggest frequency of ATMs, you simply go with Wachovia. Basically, a lot of people in North Carolina called Wachovia their bank. For a while, this worked fine and dandy. In 2007, they were making over 2 billion bucks. But then the financial crisis hit, and hit hard.

In summer of 2008, Wachovia lost 9 billion dollars. Immediately, they were in danger of dying. They weren’t too big to fail, but their failure would be especially annoying. So, vulnerable and cheap, ready to sell, Wells Fargo bought them and had everything signed and sold by the end of the year. Since then, they’ve heralding the biggest bank transition in US history. On the weekend of October 13th, Wells Fargo transitioned 317 of the last Wachovia branches. Wachovia died. Wells Fargo was ushered in.

Personally, the change hasn’t been too noticeable. Sure, I carry a card with the logo of a now non-existent company, but everything is proceeding as normal. I even get to do banking on the Wells Fargo iPhone app now, which Wachovia didn’t have.

Nothing Says Dependable Like A Stagecoach

The problem lies in the transition itself. Literally, in the course of a weekend, signs were taken down, and put up. The interiors were repainted. New quotes were put up.  New logos displayed. They even gave out candy in celebration. If you think about it, this is quite the feat of coordination. 317 giant new signs had to be taken to each branch. 317 people had to put them up. 317 branches had to have their insides repainted. 317 people had to buy candy, of course charged to cooperate. And don’t forget about all the ATMs that were also converted. Basically, it costs a lot of money to get that kind of coordination. Sure, you might employ local businesses, but where do you get the money to pay for all of that? The money you squeeze by foreclosing on houses and such? Granted, Wells Fargo is a business, but the transition seems to be a giant, relatively useless expenditure in a time of great need.

Besides this example of corporate idiocy within marching distance of the college, the Wells Fargo also sits on the corner of the busiest intersection in the county, if not a bunch of the surrounding counties. We probably only stood there for an hour, but during that hour, during rush hour on a Friday, it’s quite possible that 500-1000 cars passed through. And there we were, and the corner of it all, exposing ourselves and message to the most number of people possible.

Spot the Bird

Call Me Chicken Now!

Since the sidewalk, is also fairly large, it gave us plenty of space to not only protest, but to mill about and take pictures. I of course, was a mostly favorite to document. People told me how they liked the mask and sign. One person expressed his opinion that anger is a weak emotion. Some liked the fact that I was using an Angry Bird. Other people expressed their like with less accuracy, “Hey, red chicken, turn around!” an old lady said, asking if she could take my picture. Other people came closer, with the name, “Mad Bird.”

So there we stood. For an hour, turning our signs to whichever direction of traffic was moving. And since it takes some 5 minutes for the traffic light to cycle through everybody, some got to literally look at me and my ridiculous bird costume for 5 minutes. We’d get honks. We’d get cheers of support. We’d get yelling from drunk Frats.

But mostly by the end, I’d gotten cold. We’d started our march at like 5PM, and I finished my protesting at 6:30, but with fingers numb, and stomach grumbling. I thought about walking across the street to the Wendy’s, but it might look weird if I frequented a corporate establishment after declaring my anger for The Man’s greed. So I walked back to campus, mask back at my side, thinking about what I had just experienced during my first protest.

Overall, here’s what I came away with from my experience with Occupy Wall Street, or at least the Boone chapter of it. I can’t speak for the “crazies” in New York City and Oakland, as well as a dozen other cities that are apparently so important that they each have Wikipedia pages.

My Angry Bird Plush, With Glasses

Occupy Wall Street is whatever you want it to mean. It does whatever you want it to do. It’s delightfully non-partisan, and doesn’t argue for either Republican or Democrat causes. It’s a bunch of people expressing dissatisfaction with the state of their nation, which they mostly love, but just want to be better.

Government is not perfect. I don’t think anybody can argue with that. Sometimes it needs to be reminded of this fact. Sometimes we need to tell it that. Telling Government that is not anti-American. Just the opposite. It’s a giant cauldron of Freedom of Speech & Expression where the young, old, middle-age, liberal, conservative, Marxist, communist, Socialist, Unitarian, baptists, Mormon, and whomever can come, and not be necessarily wrong. The 99% mantra may be what’s most heard, but it’s not necessarily the point. It’s just part of the chorus of people saying that we can live out our full potential, if we’re just given a chance, and take that chance.

The existence of the movement generates discussion about everything relating to it. From the common issues of greed, to protesting etiquette. It’s basically harmless in a sense, but there is the fringe, who should be chided if only for giving a bad name to a relatively worthy endeavor.

In closing, I’d like to offer this quote on the true reason why we’re Occupying Wall Street and America.

“For each, it is a chance to participate in something that the scholars of Wikipedia might one day record as substantial.  In the meantime, it presents innumerable opportunities for these rugged protesters to tweet and post images from their proletarian smart phones. “

P.S.: I did eventually make it to that night’s Halloween Party, and a good time was had by all. I did however, not win the costume contest.

Finally. A Good Picture of Me. That Was Totally Worth Reading The Previous 3,000 Words.

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