The Bad Guy

“Congratulations…You lost!”

Last year I volunteered my time to a political campaign. I won’t say who it was, but the guy lost to the star of Raw Deal. Anyway, I decided to volunteer for a few reasons 1) boredom, 2) I got asked to volunteer, 3) I don’t get out much, and 4) I was bored.

I knew that the man had no real chance, but every now and then that little part of me that is extremely idealistic shouts “Hey! Let’s get out there and make a difference!” There are certain things that bug the hell out of me about this little voice. The main thing is that in my mind, this voice has a visage that goes along with. The voice looks like Rip Taylor and throws confetti in the air when it decides to shout sun-shiny exhortations my way. Don’t go thinking that this a separate personality, it’s not. It’s just the way I picture my idealistic side when I’m not in the mood to deal with it.

So I go down to the office to do just that: “Make a difference [throws confetti in the air]!!!” Like any lowly grunt who goes to work for a campaign, I was given a seat at a long folding table in front of a telephone where I would call all the voters on a phone book thick stack of paper. In four hours I would call up to 300 numbers and actually talk to about 10 people. I did this once or twice a week for a month. To be fair, the people there were awesome. They were gung-ho, enthusiastic and very positive. Problem is that is not always enough.

One day I showed up to make calls and I was the only volunteer there. I sat down, started calling people and one of the paid staffers turns on some music. It was nothing too jarring at first, just boring. A lot of major label bands playing a lot of octave chords…and then a Dead Kennedys song. It was “California Uber Alles” and it was loud. It was loud and I was on the phone…calling potential voters. Old voters. I knew they were old because their ages were on the call sheets.

I may not know how to make a good impression, but when it comes to making a bad impression I’m the master. And I know the best way to get senior citizens to NOT vote for a candidate is to have loud, jarring punk rock in the background when you call them. Allow me to illustrate:

senior citizen #1: “Deary, it’s the phone.”

senior citizen #2: “Who’s on the phone?”

senior citizen #1: “Let me ask him…Who is this?”

Me: “I just wanted to talk to you about our candidate, and ask you for your vote.”

senior citizen #1: “Hold the line, please…[talks to sc #2] Some teenagers making an awful racket, asking us for our goat, [whispers] I think they’re on drugs!

senior citizen #2: “We don’t have a goat…Hang up the phone.”

AND- freeze!

It was when this song came on that I became old. In about one minute I aged 45 years. I hung up the phone, turned to the staffer and I yelled “Could you to turn that shit down?! I’m trying to get people to VOTE for our candidate!!!” He was really cool about it and turned down the music and I apologized for raising my voice, but the damage was done. The illusion was shattered and my inner Rip Taylor told me to go home and watch “Prison Break.”

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February 10, 2007 - Posted by | advice, dead kennedys, elections, etiquette, News and politics, political campaigns, san francisco, Work

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