I grew up Catholic in St. Paul, Minnesota or as I like to say, I had a season ticket front-row seat to the “Minnesota Nice Guilt-Fest.” We used to hold passive-agressive contests at the local parish church every Sunday where the best competitors went on to compete in the Dairy Barn at the Minnesota State Fair.
Our church ladies always took home the blue ribbon.
I was watching a bit of #OccupyWallStreet live camera stuff on UStream last week and like many of you, read the accounts of the early morning Zuccotti Park raids and book trashing.
So the OccupyWallStreet movement has been given the heave-ho by the government that was trusted to provide protections the citizens thought they had. Apparently the right of free assembly does not mean the right to camp out on public property and beat drums. The rights of others who don’t wish to participate need to be respected.
Fair enough. The Occupiers will have to just assemble and disband every day. I’m sure they will make that work somehow. They are bright, young and tenacious. If it were me, I’d assemble in silence in the park every day and just stare at people coming and going on Wall Street.
But where they can really make the Occupy movement work is to slowly infiltrate the rest of America with nonspecific, irritating, passive-agressive actions that anyone who supports the movement can take.
Here are just a few suggestions:
Banks and Credit Card Companies
Quit going paperless. Ask for paper statements to be mailed to you each month. Quit using the ATM and go into the lobby. Don’t show up prepared. Ask that they look up your account number and fill out the deposit slip at the window, not before. Call their 800 number almost daily to inquire about your balance or ask that they verify a check was cleared or some other inane question.
Cell Phone Companies
Again, do not go paperless. Make them mail you a bill every month. Call them to verify the terms of your agreement or check the signal strength or some other nonsense almost every day. Resist the urge to upgrade until after your contract has expired or even later.
Quit using the self check-out lanes. Ask for paper bags. Shop when they are giving out free samples and don’t buy any product they are sampling. Carry cash and lots of coins so you can pay in exact change, but take a while to count out the small coins. If you have to start over every now and then, ok. Make multiple trips a week so your purchases are small.
Punch in on time, punch out on time. Don’t give any more time than they are paying you for. Take ALL your sick and personal days. Don’t bring in anything for office potluck parties. Don’t bring in anything from home.
Buy only a few gallons of gas at a time and never pay at the pump. Go inside; use the restroom, pay in cash with coins and small bills. Count it slowly. Irritate the clerk who can’t add but can see the line getting longer behind you.
Above all, never become annoyed or defensive with anyone. Be clueless, act helpless, ask inane questions. A true passive-agressive always controls the situation be remaining in character.
Sure, all this stuff takes time and effort, but what else were you gonna do? Stand around in a park?
These are just a small sampling of ideas where you can exercise some passive-agressive behavior against corporations. For the past several decades, they have been pushing their cost-savings onto their customers in the form of shadow labor without giving any of the benefits back. No wonder many of them are able to make record profits! They are getting free labor.
Be everywhere, but be nowhere. Cause small disruptions and annoyances for corporations but not enough that they can target you. Frustrate their efforts to push off expenses onto you. Frustrate their forward momentum in pushing out new products designed to give you more shadow labor without compensation.
Large crowds may be easy to disperse, but thousands of years and millions of guilt-ridden Catholics have proven that passive-agression can be a pretty formidable weapon. Learn from their years of mastery.
*Thanks to David Carr (another Minnesota ex-pat) of the New York Times for the perfect image to this post. His inspiration can be found here.