After I made my commitment to motionlessness with Move On PAC phone canvassing, I can’t believe that Laurel was able to drag me out Saturday morning to do door-to-door canvassing for the Democratic Party’s Carry Oregon campaign.
But here’s the proof, sort of. Laurel is barely visible on the far right, and I’m hidden behind the camera, per usual. We were instructed to meet at a south Salem school at 10:00 am to get our marching orders from the party organizer in the middle of the photo.
She tried to hand both Laurel and me a clipboard, meaning that we’d canvass separate neighborhoods on our own, but I emphatically quashed that idea. “I’m afraid to talk to people,” I told her. “I don’t even like to speak to strangers on the phone, much less while they’re looking warily at me through a screen door.”
So my job was to (1) guide us through the street by street list of likely Kerry supporters who hadn’t voted as of Thursday night, (2) carry a stack of brochures for Kerry and some local Democratic candidates that were to be left at a house if nobody was home, and (3) try to keep a sincere supportive look on my face while Laurel went through her rap if somebody did answer the door.
Which wasn’t all that frequent. We made it to 68 houses in about four hours of walking and driving. Twenty-eight got an “M,” the code for “no one home, left literature.” We knew that quite at a few of these people actually were home, because we could hear televisions on, children playing, adults talking (and in one case, loudly arguing; after we rang the doorbell a few times a man stalked out muttering “bitch” under his breath; we decided this probably wasn’t the best time to urge the woman of the house to vote for Kerry).
Occasionally we’d see a fluttering of the curtains as someone peeked to see who was at the door. After the fluttering, usually nothing. I understand. If I looked out a window and saw a couple holding campaign literature and a clipboard, I’d be inclined to lay low also.
When we approached this house Laurel got cold feet. “I’m not going to knock on this door,” she said. “Look how many Bush-Cheney signs are in their yard.” “You weenie,” I told her. “Where’s your Kerry commitment?” But actually I wasn’t eager to approach these seemingly hard core conservatives either.
One of our other listed homes was right across the street. It had a single Kerry-Edwards sign stuck in the lawn. “Looks like you’ve got some competition from a neighbor,” Laurel said. “Oh, those signs weren’t there yesterday,” we were told. “That’s vandalism. The people who live there are Kerry supporters.”
That encouraged us to return to the house. A woman said that she had only been able to pull up about half of the signs, which were lying in a pile by her front door, before she got interrupted by a phone call. “Do you have a teenager living here?” I asked in my best Sherlock Holmes voice. “Yes.” “There’s the answer,” I said. “I already know that,” she replied, looking at me like I was an idiot and taking the wind out of my investigatory sail.
Interesting. Some kids must have gone to a lot of work to find that many Bush-Cheney signs to steal so they could plant them in a Kerry yard. You hear a lot about campaign sign stealing; here we had a case of campaign sign planting.
Otherwise the hours flowed pretty boringly. We did get to meet some adorable small dogs (a friendly miniature gray poodle won top honors), as well as some highly protective large dogs (not face to face, fortunately). There was a “G” code for “grouch” on our forms, but I only put that down once. At that home Laurel only got to “Hi, we’re…” before the door slammed in our faces.
If I learned anything, it’s that door to door selling—whether of candidates or anything else—is tough work. At one home we asked to talk to the 82 year old woman on our canvassing list (name, party affiliation, and age were listed for each address). A girl told us to wait while the woman got dressed. We waited. And we waited some more. I pictured her slowly inching her walker toward the front door while we grew old and died on her porch.
Finally she appeared. Laurel asked her usual question, “Are you still supporting John Kerry?” “Good god, no!” the woman screamed. “John Kerry??!! Do you know what’s going to happen if John Kerry is elected? Do you know?!”
Actually, we did know. Good things. But we strongly suspected that the woman had some other ideas in mind. We hastily retreated to the sidewalk. Another front door awaited us down the block.
...it all ends tomorrow... That's what I keep telling myself. It all ends tomorrow... Let's just hope it DOES end tomorrow. The words "President-elect Kerry" will be music to my ears.
Come to think of it, what did we call Bush during Clinton's final days? "President-appoint Bush" ?
...it all ends tomorrow...
Posted by: jalpuna | November 01, 2004 at 03:57 PM