Friday, October 01, 2004

The first day of the rest of the campaign

Tomorrow there will be just one month until VICTORY! This morning Robert and I stayed home to have a new air conditioner installed. The old one was permanently doomed to burn through a wire due to an old air compressor, so he opted for an entire new system. With my new local cell phone (MetroPCS is playing a large role in this campaign, as the Florida headquarters is buying a large number of phones to use in the coming weeks), however, I was able to be productive from the house. I called about twenty five transportation companies (sedans, limos, vans, buses) looking to find Kerry supporters willing to donate their services to help us drive people to the polls during early voting. Probably many of you are familiar with this process, which has existed in California for a while now. This is the first presidential election it is available here in Florida, so it is a big part of our campaign effort. Essentially what it means is that every day from Oct. 18th on will be election day for us, since our job will be to move as many Kerry voters to the polls as we can. We’ve rented some vans, but the goal is to beg and borrow (we don’t steal!) as many resources as we can.

So I spent the morning getting pretty much nowhere, as anticipated, leaving a lot of messages and such. I took a break—believe me, one of the reasons I took this time off was so I could do things I haven’t done in forever, like read for pleasure, write, etc.—and pulled myself away after lunch to follow up on a few of the calls where I was told to call back and speak to the owner. And it was on one of these calls that I scored—the owner said to me: “I’ve been down to the DEC (Democratic Executive Committee) office three times offers to help—their office is the same building as mine; I’m glad someone is finally getting back to me.” (Note that I was making random cold calls…. But that kind of not connecting the dots is par for the course around here, it seems.) That call made all the other ones worth it. I’m learning that contributing here is not about being “productive” every hour you are working. It is about doing things, however long it takes to do them, however little they seem at that moment. When we finally got into the office (about 4:30pm), and the staff member who’d asked me to make these calls came in, I got to share my victory with him, and later Jen (another fresh-from-college staff member—Harvard, in her case) mentioned she’d heard about my coup and said how great she thought that was. I felt like I’d made a genuine contribution, and I was thrilled. I don’t know why it has taken me so long to feel that way, since everything Robert and I do at the office is something that, if we didn’t do it, wouldn’t be done. I guess I am not used to participating in such a free-form fashion; usually I have a specific project and I go right to work on it, and, while I do agonize about failure a bit, I don’t feel the panic that I’m not in control, that feeling that no matter what I do, I can’t fix it—which is exactly the feeling I’ve been coping with here.

Yet tonight I feel I’ve turned a corner, and it feels really wonderful to be here. I suppose it takes time in any situation to find your place. To be quite honest, I was dreading making those phone calls. But like most things we dread, it is not as bad once you just do it. And it is really not bad when you figure there’s only a month to go, and that there isn’t a better reason to push yourself to do things you don’t like too much than defeating Bush! Also, tonight I got asked by Chad (yes, another 22-year old staff person!) to make a form for him, since Sarah told him to ask me, since I’ve made a lot of flyers and forms in the past few weeks here. It felt really great not only to be asked to do something (since I’m there to help), but to be asked to do something that I’m good at doing. So I made his form. It’s not rocket science, of course, but I guess the point is that I finally started to feel myself as part of this effort, after feeling a bit aimless in the office earlier in the week.

Yes, I think I’ve turned a corner. (About time, too!) Let’s hope Kerry has, too—hopefully the debate results will sway a few more undecideds! Then all we have to do is get all those voters and our base to the polls between the 18th and Nov. 2!

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