Christmas 2015. The duck must have been cooked. The potatoes mashed. I am not sure if I was between cooking and eating or if I had eaten. All I know is I signed up to attend a phone bank event for a political candidate. The most surprising part might not be that I signed up. It is that I showed up on the designated day to make the phone calls.
Turning thirty is doing something to me that I can’t describe. Maybe it is that I need something to motivate me to fill my life up or maybe there is some life crisis playing itself out like a slow tune. Whatever it is, I find myself doing things that are making me become this person that I maybe always wanted to be. I always wanted to be an activist; to be political active.
I am not quite clear now what I thought a phone bank was. Okay, I won’t lie. I had some thoughts that I might meet some like minded people there. In the back of my mind were thoughts of having life affirming conversation with voters on the phone. I really have a need to expand my social life beyond this screen.
At least, I don’t think I had any thoughts of being in a fast moving scene like a movie. You know how movies always make campaign seem like the sexiest things ever. The offices are dimly lit to show how much of a long shot the candidate is. The carpet is grimly. The walls are covered in logos. It should be clear to the viewer that this is a long shot candidacy. But you still get pizza, copious amount of coffee and people yelling unintelligibly into the phone.
The truth is I showed up at a door on a nondescript building tucked into the shadows up a bigger nondescript building in the middle of the city. The room looked like a movie scene, except emptier and quieter in the beginning. The long I stayed there, the louder it got. I did meet new people who are nothing like me and don’t live within a screen. And the first hour was a drag.
Oh Lord! That first hour was a trial of my commitment. It was a series of unanswered phone calls. The second and third hour was a series of answered calls. Here is the thing I learned from my few conversations; most voters assume their money and their support is all they need to give to their chosen candidates.
“Hi, my name is Sinmi and I am calling on behalf of ….”
“Already gave money online and I am voting for …!”
click . To be fair to the many polite people I spoke to, only maybe 2 people did this out of the almost hundred I called in three hours. The rest were polite in declining the invitation to volunteer. A few decided to thank me for my service. A few said they would look into volunteering online. Heck, I even got one person to make a concrete commitment to come in for a shift next week.
Somewhere between that first ring and 3 hours later, I had fun. It was in the snippet of conversation with people who just wanted to say ‘hi’ to me. It was in the atmosphere in the room. It was in the pride that I took in doing something. It was fun. It was so much fun I signed up to work again next week.