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.”


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

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