I've been having trouble getting through on Washington phone lines for the daily calls I've vowed to make, and people keep telling me that email is not effective, so I went to Office Max yesterday to buy a stack of postcards on which to contact my government officials the old fashioned way - by mail.
The guy behind the counter looked at me like I was crazy. "We don't sell blank postcards anymore. We custom print them to order. What would you like your postcards to say?"
"No," I answered. "I want a stack of empty postcards so I can write to the White House and Congress every day."
"Ah, I get it," the guy wiggled his eyebrows and pointed me to the closest things to postcards on the shelf - index cards in neon colors - while he described the nude protest rally in Chicago he'd read about over the weekend. He looked like a large and gentle biker, a narrow braid down the middle of his beard. We shook our heads and bonded over index cards.
Then I went to get stamps. "Just out of curiosity, do you sell blank, stamped postcards?" I asked the lady at the post office when it was my turn. "Yes we do, but we sell them singly, and keep them behind the counter," she answered. Okay. Seems strange, but who knows what might happen if postcards were actually out in the open and in bulk?
"I need lots of them," I said. "I want to write to the White House every day."
The woman looked at me blankly. "I'm sorry, what did you say?" she asked. "To be honest, I was thinking about something else - about where I left my shoes in the back room, actually. I can't remember where I took them off...."
"That's okay," I laughed. "I'll just take a roll of postcard stamps." I handed over my credit card and looked back apologetically to the long line listening in.
I took my booty home and set it out where it would be handy as I read the morning news online.
Today I opened the package of index cards and sent a note to Jason Chaffetz, head of the House Oversight Committee. I wrote that, as good as he was at investigating Clinton over small indiscretions, he should find investigating Trump's whoppers easy - the refusal to release his taxes, his myriad conflicts of interest, his insecure phone, and Trump's strange and disturbing relationship with Russia should all be a piece of cake; and I wrote to Mitch McConnell to say that history would judge him poorly if he stalled on an investigation into the president's Russian connections and if he didn't stand up for the legislative branch and the Constitution. Phew. I sent out a few emails, too, just for good measure, and then put the postcards in the mailbox. Just now the carrier picked them up and started them on their journey.
I don't know if my cards will get to their intended targets in sufficient time to do any good or whether anyone will even read them. I don't know if my words carry any weight at all. I don't know if I can make a difference to anyone but myself by speaking my outrage out loud at Office Max, the post office, or the halls of Congress - the role of active citizen is new to me, the effort to climb out of my comfort zone is daunting. Nevertheless, with so much at stake, I cannot justify doing less. So I plan to pick up that pen and lick that stamp every morning until we have a grown-up in the White House. In spite of my discomfort, I plan to persist.