Perched on the steps of the Occupied downtown Berkeley Post Office is an unusual (even for Berkeley) sight. A man sits AT A WRITING TABLE, soliciting passersby and customers of the Post Office to sit down and WRITE OUT, LONGHAND, a letter.
Write a Letter!
That's Brian, one of the Post Office defenders. And every time I've meandered over to the Post Office during the day in the last weeks, Brian has been there, perched on the steps next to one of the tents, stationery and pens 'ready on a moment's notice' for anyone who might be enticed to sit at his table.
And the amazing thing is that people do stop by! They love it. I've seen people sit there for twenty minutes, writing out in longhand one of those quaint, old-fashioned messages created with ink one used to read on a piece of paper instead of in pixels. If someone can't think of anyone to write to, Brian has a list of prisoners - who can't receive emails and rely on the Post Office - that people might consider sending a note to.
Perhaps the letter-writer will describe the beautiful August days in Berkeley, sunny and pleasantly warm on the steps of the Post Office.
Perhaps she will describe the scene to his or her addressee as she scans the immediate area: tents, pavilions, tables.
Our Post Office is Open - Let's Keep It That Way!
Our IN-TENTS COMMITMENT TO SAVING THE POST OFFICE!
THE POST OFFICE AIN'T BROKE
PRIVATIZING WON'T FIX IT
CONGRESS CREATED ITS DEBT
TO STEAL OUR COMMONS.
STRIKE DEBT BAY AREA
YOU ARE NOT A LOAN!
Perhaps he will describe the ridiculously long wait that sometimes - more and more often these days - accompanies attempting to use the services of this Post Office. Perhaps our letter writer will include a handout we've started giving to those long-suffering in the service queue.
Why You Are Waiting So Long For Service!
- It's Congress' fault.
- In 2006, Congress demanded that the Post Office fund 75 years of pension benefits in the next ten years, something no other entity is required to do.
- To raise the cash to do this, the Post Office has been selling Post Offices, cutting service hours, and cutting service staff.
- The Post Office isn't obsolete! If it was, you wouldn't be here using its services!
- Raise your voice and demand Congress solve this problem they created. You can sign letters to our US Senators supporting S316, a bill that fixes the problem, outside on the info table.
And while you are waiting for service, why not WRITE A LETTER to someone? We have a writing table outside with stationery and pens.
A message from the people of the Berkeley Post Office Defense.
Just some of the people waiting for their number to be called
inside the downtown Berkeley Post Office.
Perhaps, if it's lunch or dinner time, the writer will relate how the hungry are fed every day. Food Not Bombs peeps, Occupy Oakland activists from the now officially-but-not-really moribund kitchen committee, and random donors drop off food each evening, and the campers and others gather round to partake.
Perhaps the little chess table around to the side will be mentioned. Seems like a game is being played there now most of the time. Fischer vs. Spassky it may not be, but the games help to pass the time and who wants to sit inside a tent with such perfect weather?
Or perhaps.. who knows? You can say anything you want in a letter sent via the US Mail without the NSA reading it (to date, at least so far as we know).
Who knows what dreams, aspirations, revolutionary plots or simple "wishing you were here" messages have and will go out from the little writing table atop the steps of the threatened-to-be-sold downtown Berkeley Post Office over these August days?
If you're local, come to the Berkeley Post Office this Saturday, 10/17, at 1:00 PM to enjoy a music festival!
Or come write a letter.
Other Postal Occupation Diaries: