Wednesday, January 23, 2008

40 Knocks

That's what it said at the top of my first page of addresses. It seemed pretty simple. There was a rough script and additional instructions on how to mark names according to which candidate they favored. There was a tally sheet. There was a free doughnut, the frosting of which I got on the first instruction page because the Obama people don't mess around with their doughnuts, and no napkin is big enough to fully contain a LaMar's bar.

And then there was the map. A quick gander and I knew: I was headed to the 'hood.

Truth be told, I'm not much of a people person. I like individuals, and I do pretty well chit-chatting with people I see around, but when it comes to approaching a stranger, or, worse yet, a stranger's front door, I'm pretty much a chicken. Nothing makes me want to go fetal on my bourgeois sofa more than the thought of having to open my mouth and form words to speak to someone that may or may not want me there and may or may not have a large dog of the rottweiler or pit bull persuasion in the back. In fact, heading up to any door, even in my own comfortably middle class neighborhood, sort of makes me want to high-tail it right back to the car and breathe into a paper bag. And here I was assigned to canvass in a part of town that I knew nothing about, where I'd been advised that walking alone was probably not a good idea.

But I was determined to go. I said yes on the phone when they asked me if I would do this, and because part of the reason that I am so passionate about this candidate is that he wants all of us involved in changing our nation, I felt that it was especially important that I do my part to try to get him elected.

So I did it. And I'm a little bit proud of myself. I'd be lying by omission if I ended here and let you believe I went out and conquered on my own. The first third of the knocks I did by myself, it's true, but for the last two-thirds I took my husband along and fed him half the names of the people whose houses we visited so he could say the first words. He wrote about our experience here.

All in all, it went well. While there were some people who did not appreciate our arrival on their doorsteps, most people were at the very least cordial, if not warm. We met some really neat people, most of them elderly, and the only dog I came into actual contact with was a tiny bit of fluff named Sydney who belonged to a lady who looked us in the eyes, pointed, and said, "I'm with you. I think it's time for a change." There were a number of people who wished us well and told us to be careful, not to stay out too late. I am grateful to them for their kindness, and I truly hope I find myself in their company, if not in their neighborhood, sometime soon.

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