Ubiñas: Sign, sign, everywhere a sign of resistance to Trump -and hate

One of the signs that Melody Nielsen put up at the register at Saxbys Coffee at 30th Street Station, telling those who have been targeted by Trump's rhetoric that they are welcome on Sunday, Nov. 21.

All I wanted when I walked up to Saxbys kiosk at 30th Street Station on Saturday morning, was a strong cup of coffee before heading out of town and off line for a day.

It had been an exhausting week of dealing with Trump supporters who didn't like my column last week - those who spewed hate and others who, while more civil, still refused to accept their complicity in a bigoted campaign and coming soon, based on his frightening cabinet picks, a bigoted administration.

But then I noticed the handmade sign on the cash register, and it stopped me cold. It got me thinking of an old song.

Cue the music.

And the sign says, "If you are Muslim, Jewish, Disabled, Gay, Bi, Trans*, Latinx, Black, Female, Femme, an Immigrant (undocumented or not) You Are Welcome Here. #PhillyWelcomesYou."

So I pulled out my pen and went in to ask why.

Yeah, I just played off the lyrics from Five Man Electrical Band's 1970 song, "Signs" - because isn't that what so many of us are searching for since the most bitter presidential campaign in recent history? A sign, any sign, that we'll somehow come out of the other side of this nightmare mostly unscathed?

Maybe my defenses were down, maybe I was just caffeine-deprived, but for the first time since the election, I felt myself exhale. I allowed myself to embrace, however briefly, the feel-good words - despite having gone on record as saying I was tiring of the "love trumps hate" line that people were naively clinging to.

Get a grip, people. Love doesn't always trump hate. It certainly didn't on Nov. 8.

But this sign wasn't just telling people that they were loved, it was telling those who were feeling more vulnerable and more marginalized than ever that they are not invisible, that they are not alone - that here, among the coffee and pastries, they were home.

I blame Melody Nielsen for my moment of weakness.

After the election, Nielsen told me later, she and her diverse team of coworker's were shaken. They talked out their fears and frustrations, they vowed to be there for one another. But then she recalled reading something that said support shouldn't just come in silent signs of safety pin solidarity. Amen! So, she made the signs.

"I'm gay and I'm Jewish but those aren't super visible things about me," she said, "so I wanted to put something out there to be like, 'Hey, I'm here, I support you, and this is a place where you don't have to worry about anyone bothering you.'"

I expected she'd get some pushback from corporate, but it was just the opposite. Justin Pizzi, spokesman for the Philadelphia-based coffee company said they didn't consider the sign to be political, but a reflection of the company's inclusiveness.

Imagine that! Maybe all Trump and Co. need is steady drip of Saxbys coffee?

While paying for her coffee Monday morning, Kimberly Reed told Nielsen she loved the sign.

"I've been feeling a lot of tension in the air lately," Reed, a regular, later told me. "I feel like everyone is uptight, everyone is afraid, no one is really talking to each other, so it's nice to know that this is a safe place, no matter who you are. It made my heart feel good to see that."

Mine too - cynical as that heart may be.

It's a small thing, and we're going to need a lot more than gestures to get through the next four (or more) years. But it's one of many small signs of hope and resistance that I've noticed lately.

And maybe - if we're lucky - all the signs will eventually point to an America we can all be proud of.

ubinas@phillynews.com

215-854-5943N>@NotesFromHel

Helen. Ubinas