I Worked The Phone Bank And Regretted It

I was going to meet the next Governor of Kentucky yesterday but things happened and I couldn’t make it. One of my tires had a piece of metal in it and I had to pay $15 for the privilege of having it taken out. By the time my tire was ready to go, it was too late to make the drive to the Daviess County Democratic Party HQ in Owensboro in time to meet Andy Beshear. Too bad, because I wanted to get a picture with him. I haven’t posted anything on Instagram in over a month, which is an ice age in Instagram time.

I’ve been in the Daviess County HQ before. It’s where I went for my brief foray into phone canvassing for Beshear and the Democrats. I volunteered for it. Why? Because I’m a glutton for punishment.

This happened a few weekends ago because I e-mailed a local political action group about getting involved in something somehow. I’ve been incredibly frustrated with. . . well. . . everything. Look around us. Watch the news. It’s infuriating. The Democrats represent the best chance we have to do anything to address this current shitstorm we’re living in.

I was contacted and offered the chance to do work at the phone bank. The gubernatorial campaign in Kentucky is done in an off-year which means 2019 is the one. Campaigns rely a lot of volunteer help so I’m glad help even a little bit, which in this case meant volunteering to work the phones on a Saturday afternoon.

I don’t know if I can go through with it again.

It’s a small office but since it was Saturday there weren’t very many people there. The guy in charge introduced himself to me and gave me the basic how-to and then let me at it. A nice older lady was already on the job when I got there. That was it. Just the two us, trying to convince Daviess County to swing to the left in 2019.

I was given a flip phone and an alphabetical list of names of people who lived in Knottsville. Name, age, sex, phone number. I called the number on the top and I got a voicemail. I hung up and then I had to key in on the sheet that they weren’t home because I got the voicemail. They had a key for everything. If the caller wasn’t home, if the phone was busy, if the phone was disconnected, yada yada yada. 98% of my calls went in those categories. It would have been tedious had it not been the first time I was doing it.

The guy in charge informed me that this would happen a lot and that I should come back on a night when they do computer calling. Because the computer filters out all the people who don’t pick up. No, I’ll pass on that. I actually prefer the indirect rejection of a voicemail. In the event I got to talk to a live human being, I was given a sheet that I could read from to introduce myself and talk about Andy Beshear and the Democratic ticket. Somebody (or some people) had probably been paid a lot of money to figure out what should be on this sheet. I decided to make it my own and just roll with it. The people who came up with this stuff got paid either way.

I began to feel what I imagine someone who goes out fishing feels like. Out on that boat, rod in hand, just waiting for a bite. Hours on end, just waiting for a little excitement. It’s boring, almost tedious, until it’s exciting. I don’t fish, in case you can tell.

Some people said no and I thanked them for their time. Some people recoiled in disgust and hung up. I keyed them all on my little sheet: REFUSED. Meanwhile, the nice old lady? Doing way better than I was. Some people have the gift, what can I say?

In the end, after five pages of names only six people deigned to talk to me. Three of them said they would vote for Beshear, three for the other guy. One of the Bevin voters actually sang to me like a lunatic, in a sing-songy way. I wasn’t even mad at her. I was almost starved for human contact by that point. All of that information gets keyed in as well. The people who say they’re voting for Bevin? Their info is taken off future lists, as well as the info of the people who refuse to talk and those whose phones are disconnected.

I presume their information is sent straight to hell.

While I’m no political consultant, I have to presume that late Saturday afternoon is no good time to call people and ask them how they feel about politics. Is there a good time to do that ever? Especially in this day and age when people get anxious whenever they see an unfamiliar number on their phone? Even if they offered up their number voluntarily, which I presume they did. It’s one of those things you do and then forget about until you get a strange call and then play the voicemail after. “Oh yeah that’s right, I signed a petition. I gave my contact info to the Democrats. Goddammit.”

 

 

 

 

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