Dear Mister Secretary

Treat federal workers with respect, good sir.

I was disturbed to see today that our Commerce Secretary doesn’t understand why federal workers are using food banks. Instead, he said that workers should take loans and “pay a little bit of interest.” Does he know that TSA workers get paid a starting salary of $12/hour? That’s two lattes and a Luna bar.

Look, I can’t stand these people either. They took my very expensive water bottle away from me last week because it was filled with more than 3.4 ounces. I tried to drink it, but they wouldn’t let me. They threatened to send me to the back of the line. Over water. It was a long line. And my TSA Pre✓ hasn’t been approved yet. (I think it’s because of my beard.) So I watched them trash my beautiful stainless steel water bottle (“Sorry, bro.” “Don’t bro me.”) as I put my belt back on and tried to figure out which laptop was mine — all while trying to salvage any shred of dignity any of us has left half-naked in front of our fellow United passengers.

But, come on, wake up. Have we gotten so cruel as a country that we don’t have sympathy, let alone empathy, for the people actually affected by this circus? It doesn’t matter where you fall politically — I don’t care — these people work for a living. If the shutdown has shown us anything, it has revealed how we truly feel about workers in our country. I may have gone to Harvard, and I may have friends who come from wealth, blah, blah, blah, but I was a WIC baby. My parents had nothing when I was born, except love, good hair, and a shitty Pontiac. My mother was a secretary for 45 years and did overtime at the kitchen table every night on a 50-pound Smith Corona that she lugged home in the trunk. My father was a bus driver, and a baker, and a janitor — all at the same time. And they worked with every cell in their bodies to give my sisters and me an education, a future to be proud of, and clear (not metal) braces. I can tell you, firsthand, from growing up on picket lines with my father to playing squash with trust-fund kids, life is wildly different at each end of the spectrum. And it’s only getting worse.

I don’t want to take your money. You earned it. It’s yours. We can debate AOC and a 70% marginal income tax rate on billionaires another time. But don’t be an asshole. If people need to use a food bank because you are not PAYING THEM, find an ounce of human decency and don’t shit on them in the press. When is the last time YOU worked for free? This kind of disgusting apathy for the working class is inhumane. And it’s souring the American brand more every day.

Okay, that’s all. I’ll go back to work now. And when this shutdown is over, I want my water bottle back…bro.

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Where the personal, pandemic and the political meet // juliovincent.com • @juliovincent

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