Two things

Dear President Trump,

Good morning on this 29th day of your government shutdown. I’m waiting at the Amtrak station for a train to Portland to visit my family. Unfortunately this means I’m going to miss the Womxn’s March here in Seattle, but this was the weekend closest to the holidays I could get away.

I’ve got a couple of observations to share with you from the trip so far. First, on the off-ramp from the freeway down to the train station area we got see an enormous bald eagle perched up on a light post. It’s so cool that they visit us in town sometimes (at least for us, maybe not so much for them).

Second, there’s a new thing (to me) on Amtrak where you can check your bags, which is great since the baggage racks in the cars are awkward and always over-filled. That’s not really the main observation to share, though. Rather, there was a couple ahead of me checking bags and there were two women helping them and a guy standing off to the side in the service area by the other bag check portal. He was just standing with his arms crossed, looking vaguely bored. After several minutes a third woman came into the service area and beckoned me over, crisply checked my bag, and then said out loud “see, easy peasy” – presumably to the idle standing guy. There was no training element, which would have explained his behavior, and there was no direct rebuke, but I’m glad she said something. I wasn’t in a hurry, but it was annoying that he just stood there impassively staring into space rather than helping me.

Maybe it was a gendered thing, maybe it wasn’t. Maybe he’s got back issues, maybe he’d done his morning quota of bag-checking. I don’t know, but given that three women stepped right up to help passengers and the third one cheerily said “see, easy peasy,” I’m betting there was a gender element to the whole deal. Here we are in liberal (ish) Seattle and we’ve got the women doing their prosocial jobs and the lone (white) man in the mix just standing there. Some other male Amtrak employee could very well have been helpful and on the ball so I’m not saying all men behave like this and I’m also not saying that all women are always cheerfully helpful, but there are reasons (lots of them) women and our allies are marching today.

May we be safe in whatever skin and body we’ve got.
May we all be happy to do our jobs (I’m talking to you too).
May we find healthy ways to make our points when someone needs correction.
May we all make peace with the need to change crappy gendered behaviors.

Tracy Simpson

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