Wednesday, August 20, 2008
They were trying to get signatures to put Nader on the ballot in NY. When I walked up to the lady in white, who was doing it by herself at the time, I could see that she was struggling. She was holding this tattered blue Nader/Gonzalez sign, yelling out at people to "HELP RALPH NADER" "DO YOU WANT TO PREVENT THERMONUCLEAR WAR!?!?!" "HELP RALPH NADER"
I walked up to her while I was still on the phone with my friend Sean and asked what she needed. I knew I probably couldn't help because I assumed it was ballot access, and you need to be registered to vote in NY to sign that petition. I informed her that I was a CT voter and couldn't help her. She said "are you sure?" "Please we only need a few more signatures...today is the last day to get ballot access"
.... (ponders momentarily) "...Sean...I'll call you back, I gotta canvass some signatures for Ralph Nader"
And off I went trying to get people to stop and talk to this woman. After just a few moments it became clear that I had chosen an incredibly difficult undertaking. And this is coming from a man who runs street canvasses to get strangers to GIVE YOU THEIR MONEY for your cause. All I wanted today was their signature, but as soon as the heard me say Nader they would be gone with a puff of smoke like the road runner.
I knew I had to get far more tenacious, but a few things needed to happen to de-hippieliberalcommiefagpinkojunkiefy the situation. I had to take off my guitar, I had to have the old lady stand aside and be quiet and put her damn tattered sign down, and now the other one's returned and wondering what this wacky guy is doing harassing her friend. "Please ladies, I promise you I will get you these signatures, but I need to take off this guitar, so I need you to stand off to the side here and watch it for me." They skeptically abode.
With the distractions gone and my hands freed I set to the task at hand. They needed 18 signatures; thought I could do it in 5 minutes, it actually took me about a half hour, but I did it. (and the next day Nader turned in 27,000 signatures to Albany; 15,000 are required to get on the ballot, we'll see what happens...)
And with each one I got the ladies were more and more amazed at the ease with which I was stopping people, getting them to sign, or just brushing it off if they didn't. I feel like they never seemed to really get the part about me running a canvass office, and that a big part of what I train people to do is very applicable to this.
It felt really good to be using my skills for something so purely righteous and selfless, particularly with the thought of working on the elections and working to get Obama elected looming over the horizon.
Slowly as I was racking up the names, the woman in black (who clearly wore the pants in the friendship) kept coming up to me and insisting on buying me coffee, dinner, anything. I was just intent on getting these last few names and continuing my day as a trubador. She eventually convinced me to give her my address so she could send me "something" that the Nader folks will be sending her in about a month.
These ladies were truly amazed by my abilities. They couldn't tell if I was an angel or a sorcerer!
...neither can I sometimes...
by Free Radical