Getting Phone Banked

Happy November! The best month has finally arrived (no other month can compete with turkey, pumpkin pie, my mom’s PA Dutch potato filling, and a minimum of three days off of work), and I’m stoked. Despite being out of work for three days because of Hurricane Sandy, it’s been a tiring week.

Even so in the past week or so, I was able to knock a few more things off of my list of 100 things to do this year. I got back down to my high school weight, I made another Christmas present, I met one of my dear friends from work for sushi, and a piece I wrote was published on The Sisterhood of the Camo Pants‘ blog.

And, I crossed #99 off my list: I volunteered with President Obama’s campaign. My friend, Shannon, and I decided we’d try our hand at phone banking. And let me tell you, we got banked.

In Baltimore, the term “banked” means to get jumped and beaten up. (I learned this my first year of teaching here when I thought it had something to do with snow banks. Rookie mistakes.)  Honestly, I had no illusions about phone banking. I didn’t think it would be rainbows and sunflowers. I figured there would be a lot of hang-ups and rude people. I was not execting to make about 200 calls in 2 1/2 hours and only speak to (maybe) 15 people.

It was terribly apparent that so close to the election, most people weren’t picking up their phones anymore. I can’t say I blame them at all. It must be frustrating and tiring to be a swing state voter. And it’s sad that our democracy has been reduced to scrambling to persuade a handful of voters in just a handful of states. But that’s the system we currently have.

I digress. Here are a few moments from Shannon and my adventure:

  • Baltimore became Smalltimore as I saw someone at the HQ that I knew (who also used to teach under my current principal) and someone who knew someone I work with. I also sat next to a woman who graduated from the high school I teach at in 1969. That was nifty. 
  • The only time I got through my whole script was… when I called my mom (from my cell, of course, not the HQ phone). She insisted that I read through the whole thing and ask her all of the questions.
  • One of the other volunteers had someone tell him that they “wouldn’t vote for a n—–.”  While I don’t think anyone would argue that racism isn’t a factor in current American culture and society, it still is jarring to hear someone espouse that viewpoint so bluntly.
  • On the other hand, another volunteer had someone tell him that they were voting for Pedro in this election. In all fairness, Pedro will make all of your wildest dreams come true. 

I’ve decided that phone banking isn’t my thing, but I really do like campaigning. I think canvasing might be more my speed.  Even though I didn’t feel particularly useful today, I’m glad for the new experience! And it’s definitely something to cross of my list!

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