Half-mast.
Finally at half-staff.

When a queer mechanical engineer stopped by United Rentals in Tukwila to pick up some equipment yesterday, something caught her eye. The flagpole on the property still had its flag flying high. According to her, after hearing about the massacre at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Fla. that claimed 49 lives on Sunday, she felt numb. But when she walked into the business, she said she felt unexpectedly emotional.

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"I didn't even know how upset I was until I started going off on the guy," said the engineer, who wished to remain anonymous because of concerns about her job. "I was like, 'You know, we just had the second worst terrorist attack on our soil in history and you don't even have the decency to put your flag at half-mast as if it's just some damn faggots that got killed and you don't give a shit?'"

After Sunday's attacks, President Obama ordered that public buildings and military bases lower their flags to half-staff until Thursday in honor of those killed in the shooter's hateful rampage.

The engineer, who is genderqueer, said she, her partner, and their baby drove from their home in Olympia to Seattle on Monday. As they drove along I-5, she said she was shocked to see so many businesses' flags at half-mast.

"I guess I felt really surprised that they would respect us that way. And it really touched me," she said.

So when she went to United Rentals, a business she had been working with for the past six months, and saw that they hadn't lowered their flag, she was hurt. She admitted she blew up at one of the workers and then changed her tune.

"I calmed down and I was like 'You're like, the only business that doesn't have your flag at half-mast and it's super disrespectful and you ought to lower it,'" she said. "A couple of guys laughed at me. And I was like 'You can laugh at me, but it's not funny. This isn't funny.' And then they went out and they did it."

According to Brett Stewart, an inside sales rep for United Rentals, lowering the company's flag to half-staff slipped their minds during a busy day. It wasn't an anti-LGBTQ+ statement, he said.

"We just hadn't thought to do it. ... We've done it for a lot of things that happened. It was just the perfect storm of being short[-staffed]. But we fixed it as soon as we were asked," Stewart said.

A manager at Safeguard Storage in Kent, who did not want to be named because he does not represent the national company, also spoke with her. He said the business had intended to lower the flags, but required a maintenance worker to adjusted the ropes, which had been specially screwed in after someone stole them last year. The flags were down about two hours after she came by, he said.

"We support everybody. They're Americans like I am. What happened in Orlando is a cruel thing and I 100 percent support [the people affected]," he said.

The engineer, with her son in tow, then spent the rest of her day stopping by businesses in Tukwila and South Seattle who did not have their flags lowered: a construction equipment outlet, car dealerships, and storage facilities, to name a few. Before she started, she said that about half of the businesses she saw had their flags at half-staff.

"It was unexpected, but once we got rolling, I was feeling pretty righteous about it," she said. "It just struck me how good it felt to see those flags to be lowered in respect yesterday. ... I just feel like there's probably other queers that it means something to."

According to the engineer, she stopped at every business in Tukwila that didn't have their flags lowered. "Most everybody was pretty nice. The thing that [these business owners] said was 'Oh, I didn't even think about it.' And I'm like, 'Yeah. You don't see these gay guys as being you.' They don't see them as being American, I don't think. I think they see them as 'other,' but they're not," she said.

When we talked late Tuesday afternoon, the only place that didn't lower their flag was a Taco Bell near Fort Lewis. The workers said didn't have the authority to do it, she said.

The engineer said she had been more of an activist within the LGBTQ+ community in her twenties. Despite spending hours of her day stopping by businesses and persuading them to pay their respects, she said she doesn't consider herself an activist. "I’m just so weary. I don’t go out of my way. Just my existing feels like activism," she said.

In response to Sunday's attacks, the engineer said she encourages others to ask businesses to lower their flags out of respect.

"I think they'll find that people aren't really resistant to it. They just don't see these gay people and don't feel that it's their own people, you know? They're wrong about that. And when you point it out to them, they realize that," she said.

This post has been updated.