Wednesday, September 13, 2006

My first day of Lamont School

Well, that's what I call it anyways. I did some work for the campaign in the spring, but that was really independent. I barely met one person from the campaign, and then I was on my own. That's why I call this my first day.

I'm sure many would find this strange, but I was REALLY nervous! I knew that all I had to do was make phone calls for the campaign. But even in that, I was lacking confidence. I must say that Matthew told me he felt that way the first time he did phone banking, but he was ONLY 15!!

Anyway, I get into the office and I just tell the guy (who was to train me) that I was nervous. "After all, I haven't been in the workplace of any kind in 19 years." He was fine with it. THEN he starts talking to me about this new commercial they are shooting over the weekend. It was going to touch on several issues. He went over them with me and asked if they had anything to do with my personal situation. They didn't. Besides, I totally freaked out (internally). No way in HELL is anyone going to get me to speak in front of a camera. It's so not me! But I did happen to notice that our Pam B was signed up. She's not the timid type ;-)

That topic finally closes, and the guy took me to a side room to train me. I was still really nervous. A strange, side thing happened. One of the people in that room (all making calls to unaffilliated voters) is someone I recently had a falling out with. It was incredibly awkward. It did nothing for my nerves. It seems that we BOTH pretended we didn't notice each other. But I'm quite sure she noticed me and/or my distinct voice as much as I noticed her.

Anyway, the training guy sat me down with the instructions. I was shakey. I really didn't know if I could do it. Then another new volunteer came in, and my training guy was going to go over it with him. I told the training guy I wanted to listen to it again. I did. GAWD, sometimes I feel like such a weenie!

Finally, I made my first few calls. I was fumbling over my words. Screwing up. Could barely cross on my checklist because my hand was also shaking. I'm telling you folks, this is what happens when you've been a housewife for too long! Then something happened. I made another call, and the confidence kicked in. I followed the script, "Hello, may I speak with X, please." The person on the other end (when I was lucky) said, "Speaking." I said, "Hello, this is Rose. I'm calling from Democratic headquarters. I'd like to ask you to answer two brief questions."

Depending on the person's response, I'd proceed. "Who would you vote for in November, Lieberman or Lamont?" I'd record the response and follow-up with, "What influenced your decision?" Simple, no? Yes!! I'd just write down the answers (well, it was a checklist so there weren't random choices).

There are all kinds of strange things that happen with this phone banking. Some peoople get REALLY angry. I called for an adult offpsring living with his parents. His mother answered the phone. When I told her I was calling from Democratic headquarters, she became angry. She asserted her son was unaffilliated. I said that I understood that and I didn't want to influence his position on anything. She said, "Then don't, and don't ever call here again."

"okay. Thank you for your time."

Called another 21 year old living with mom. He said he was going to vote for Lieberman. I asked what affected his decision. He said he didn't like Lamont's negative campaign strategies. "Thank you so much for taking the time to answer the questions. Good-bye." Huh? What negative campaign strategies was he talking about? I so wanted to ask, but I couldn't.

Then there was the call to the 32 year old male living with his parents. His father answered the phone. He father hesitated, wanting to know what I was calling about. Again, I explained I was calling from Dem hdqtrs and had some questions for him. Dad says, "Well, this is a 'different' situation. Our son votes, but he votes with us." I can't quite explain it, but it seems dad was trying to tell me (without telling me) that his son is mentally handicapped in some way.

Two parents of voting age males summoned their sons after I told them who I was. Mysteriously, those calls were disconnected without contact. Two women were upset that I called because they were busy "canning." Another woman was upset because she was busy on the computer and she didn't have the time.

This stuff didn't upset me. I found it rather interesting to see what it is like to be on the delivering end of those annoying phone calls that disrupt all of our lives. After all, I've received some calls from the Lieberman camp. I can't say that I've been exactly nice about them. It really isn't fair to the poor schmucks who are just doing their jobs.

What I really gained from this experience (besides an awesome lawn sign) is a sense of confidence and ability I didn't hold before. I think this will only serve me better in my employment pursuits. I'm volunteering again on Thursday this week and Thursday next week. It's pretty easy work.

And it really helped that I talked with Matthew about it before-hand. He told me that when you are phone banking that you may feel like it doesn't matter. "But," Mom, "You don't get to see the big picture of the difference [phone banking] it makes. At the the higher level [that he was at for Malloy], it all comes together. It's a big deal."

Thanks, Matthew. That puts it all into perspective.

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