Florida and Campaigning, Little Stories
The New VolunteerJust after General Powell's endorsement of Obama for President, a bulldog of a man walks into the office, hands us his business card, and asks what volunteer work he can do for Barack. Casually he tosses out, "I'm a registered Republican and after the endorsement I felt it was time to come in here."
The Three TotalsOne afternoon while out talking with voters, a field organizer for our office gets in a auto accident. Neither car involved can be driven anymore, and our organizer is hurt from the impact. An ambulance carries her to a local hospital, worry abounds, and her family is called. Shortly after being checked into the emergency room, our office gets a text message from her asking for status: "So, how many canvassers do I have out?"
Pitching and CatchingIt's early evening in Tampa, and only an hour or so before the soon-to-be last game of the American League championship series. I'm suddenly conscripted from my office duties by a co-worker who shoves me in a car with a sign and some pamphlets and tells me I'm to stand in front of Tropicana Field and re-emphasize the start of early voting for Florida.
I'm ill-suited for this. We're at the entrance to the stadium and people are excited about the game, not politics. Despite being non-blocking in presentation (off to the side of the walkway) our voting signs show a picture of Obama, so our partisanship is evident and I'm uncomfortable with even a peripheral interruption.
I'm paired with Linda, in heels and short, she's about ten or fifteen years older than I am, throws a smile my way, pats me on my shoulder, then wades closer to the crowd of attendees.
"Vote early!" she says. "Voting for Obama? You can do so now."
She repeats this many times. Her voice doesn't carry too far, but passersby can see her sign. They glance at the image of Obama. And many of them (many!) turn their heads slightly and reply: "Fuck you."
She must've gotten over fifty "fuck you"s.
Later, we have to walk back to the office. It's many blocks, and there are no cabs or drivers available. She chucks off her heels and walks barefoot. And never stops. The whole way back she mentions to anyone passing, "Did you know you can vote early? And vote for Obama!"
Later, when she tells us she's another registered Republican volunteer, I whistle in appreciation.
OfferingsI've only had one day of canvassing, for the last few weeks, I've mainly worked with documents and computers and gadgets. In this new assignment, I prepare myself to meet with the common responses to a knock at the door: indifference, antagonism, frustration, annoyance.
I head out with a more experienced canvasser. On my first knock I'm nervous. A tall man answers...
He's proudly wearing an Obama baseball cap. And further inside, I can see his wife, who is wearing an Obama t-shirt.
They are very pleased we're at the door.
We're invited inside for cocktails, which I decline as I'm on duty, and because I begin to wonder if they'll be so many offerings that we'll have to weigh our options on their relative quality before choosing one.
I knock on many doors. Goodwill is in force. I'm later told my experience was "atypical." This just tells me that my co-workers are hiding all the good bounty.