I have just scheduled a field trip to the Fed in San Francisco for my 60 seniors as part of their economics curriculum. This is a pretty cool trip, and I anticipated it to be especially interesting in these current socio-economic circumstances.
As I was on the phone with the Fed yesterday I had several of the students who would be a part of the trip in my classroom. They were certainly curious about the trip and are generally enthusiastic about field trips, as you might imagine.
“And, um, just so you are aware, the vault is currently closed to tours as a result of all the protests.”
“Yes, because of the Occupy groups or whoever, the vault is not open for tours.”
“We cannot tour the vault?”
“That is correct.”
[“What the fuck? We can’t get in the vault?!?! That is so lame!!“]
“Excuse me for a minute. — gentlemen, do you think that you could control at least your language while I am on the phone? — Okay, so if we cannot tour the vault, then what will we see on this tour?”
“Well, the rest of the tour still happens.”
“Yes, but the vault is what the kids want to see.”
“Well, I am sorry, we are simply not doing that right now because of all those protestors.”
All those protestors.
I took this news mostly in stride, thankful really for a minute to have been able to find a day that we could actually go, what with all the schedule constraints that come with seniors in May. Then I went home and told the Cowboy the story.
“What? Are you kidding me? That is so unacceptable! That is a federal building, people have the right to be there!”
“I know, I guess they are worried…”
“About what? Unruly students? Are you kidding me??”
Later we went for a walk downtown and conveniently passed by the Fed at 105 Market Street, still currently all cordoned off from… from the unruly public, I guess? There were three Occupy activists nearby standing politely at a makeshift table disseminating literature and flyers to anyone who stopped to ask them for it. They were quiet and unobtrusive. As we looked into the lobby of the Fed the security was as subtle as an unmarked police car on Oakland’s International Avenue. It seemed incongruous juxtaposed against “all those protestors”.
When I came to school this morning and told my partner about the field trip and the issue with the vault he became animated with amused, but righteous, indignation.
“Are you kidding me?” I sensed a trend.
“Well, they said maybe by May it would be open again…”
“Um, May Day? Do you have any idea how many Occupy events are probably planned for that day?”
“Oh. Yeah. You are probably right.” I considered. But he was back to the vault…
“That is ridiculous! They have a such gall to say that the vault is closed! That is the whole point of the trip….”
And he trailed off about the inconsistency of banks still gouging him with unavoidable fees while he was not even allowed to visit them.
I felt remiss in my original lack of righteous indignation. But when I need to, I can definitely cultivate a nice rage. And the more I thought about the Fed’s decision to close the vault the more ridiculous it became. And also the less original. How banal to take it out on the least criminal element in society as a defensive response to being called on the carpet for your own bad behavior: “See what you terrible protestors are doing? You are ruining it for the kids!”
Um… no, actually, don’t YOU see big Federal Reserve Bank? YOU are ruining it. For everyone. You could have taken action a million different ways, and the petty action you choose to take is to shut down access to your institution to students of economics?
Brother, please. I don’t want your coins…