The realness of that mail struck me. Paper correspondence carries all the marks of genuine humans, people who feel strongly enough about the whole event that they take on all those little tasks of letter writing — tracking down paper or card, composing their thoughts, handwriting or printing it out, locating our address and getting it into the mail.
In more than 4,000 painstakingly typed letters, hastily scrawled postcards, and feces-smeared notebook pages, I was branded a racist, a bigot and a hypocrite. A victim of “Trump Derangement Syndrome.” I was an idiot, or worse, and a lousy manager. Sure, I’d 86’d Sanders, but it was my business that was going down the drain.
Yet, as I kept opening the letters, I saw a pattern. For every hateful message, there was one of gratitude. For every angry accusation that our actions were driven by the inability to accept Hillary Clinton’s 2016 loss, there was a note of thanks from someone lamenting Trump’s rollback of protections for marginalized people. What’s more, for every wish that our business die a painful death, there was a dollar bill or a generous check or an order for a gift certificate.
When we opened after a 10-day hiatus, our dining room was full.