Sergio and I took a trip way outside of our comfort level today. For Sergio it was the act of joining up with something, and for me it was talking to strangers. We went up the road with the Lewis and Clark Law School Democrats and canvassed an area for a local political candidate. This means that we went door to door handing out fliers and taking down any information the prospective voters were willing to give.
Now, I never even participated in school fundraisers as a kid. I was the person that took home the sheet with wrapping paper and lip balm choices and asked my parents to just buy $50 dollars worth, or better yet, just donate $50 bucks to the cause. I was not about to go door to door selling things. The very idea of knocking on strangers (or friends) doors sent me into a minor nervous breakdown that included crying and hiding in my closet. About the same reaction I had to calling strangers on the phone.
Sergio never participated in fundraisers either, and if it comes right down to it, he would usually rather spend his weekends climbing up slippery hills or swimming in cold streams or something. Joining up with a group of strangers to do anything is really not on Sergio’s list of fun things to do. As evidenced by the number of pub crawls, potlucks, and costume parties from which we have already politely excused ourselves.
We went though, because after bitterly complaining about our political situation for years, we felt that it was time to take real action.
I was in a cold sweat when we arrived at the party headquarters and got our instructions and pamphlets. We had a script, newspaper articles, and information for each person whose door we would knock on. The system is pretty good now; we only knocked on doors of democrats, those with no party affiliation, and republicans over 65. I guess that is in the hope that if a republican is angry that we show up they can’t do much about it. It also means that we bothered a few angry 82 year olds who no longer care if they are polite to other people. We marked them as hostile and moved on.
In the end, it really wasn’t that bad. In fact, Sergio may have found his calling as a door-to-door salesman. He seemed to be able to get almost anyone into a conversation, get what information he needed, and get his point across about the candidate. And me? Well, I was happiest when the people weren’t home and I could leave a flier in the door.
Here are some statements from some of the more interesting people we came across today.
“I don’t have an email address and I don’t always have a phone number.”
“I’ll be glad when the election is over and you people leave me alone.”
“Huh, what, huh, bye” (over an intercom)
“We’re deaf, I don’t understand.”
“I never tell anyone who I’m voting for, but I can tell you I always vote straight democrat.”