I went over to the Hillary Clinton campaign office and made calls yesterday afternoon. I’ve been wanting to volunteer for…oh, months, but I kept putting it off. Because I know what campaign volunteer work primarily entails—calling people on the phone. Calling strangers who don’t want to talk to you. Bothering people in their homes. I cringe at the idea of making these kinds of calls, because—I’ll be honest—I hate getting them myself. “Hate” is too strong a word; I’m extremely impatient having to deal with strangers who want something from me. Mostly they are asking for money. I’ve gotten a lot of calls from various Democratic party entities, because I’ve given money to Hillary. I say, no, I don’t give money over the phone (true), but I’m often abrupt, not always friendly. So I cringe at the specter of my being one of those bothersome folks on the other end of the line. Also—to be more honest—I have this thing about wanting people to like me. Even people who don’t know me and can’t even see me and for whom I am simply a voice that enters their consciousness for a fraction of time.
With only 25 days to go until election day, it was now or never. I If I had to make calls, so be it. I had to do something to help Hillary beat the living nightmare that isTrump.
Sure enough: my assignment was to call Suffolk County voters to ask them if they’d decided whom they would be voting for in November, and if they were Hillary supporters, if they would be interested in volunteering. That was it. I wasn’t asking for money. Excellent. I took a deep breath and punched in the first number on my list. (I used a Hillary campaign flip phone—it was good to see she wasn’t wasting my campaign contribution on fancy equipment.) No one picked up. Many people weren’t home or weren’t picking up. In quite a few cases, the number I had was disconnected. After a dozen or so of such calls, it occurred to me that I had chosen a shift in which I was unlikely to reach many people—Friday 5 pm to 7 pm. Was this my subconscious looking out for me? I got a few men who were voting for Hillary and weren’t at all offended that I’d called. I started to relax—a bit. I talked to a woman who didn’t want to say she whom she was voting for. “Would you consider volunteering for Hillary?” I asked daringly. Of course, she responded no—but again, she didn’t seem to mind the question. I was starting to think I was cautiously starting to believe I was having a real breakthrough when an undecided voter caused me to have a brain freeze. He said he just hadn’t decided, and he was going to wait until he saw the last debate before deciding. He was Indecision incarnate; he needed me to help decide, I could hear it in his voice. But I panicked. My script told me to give him some examples of what I liked about Hillary—I went blank. I wanted to say, “You can’t possibly vote for Trump, he’s horrible,” but obviously that would’ve been inappropriate (for a Clinton supporter—Trump’s volunteer script probably reads, “You can’t vote for Crooked Hillary, she’s a liar and belongs in jail.”) I remembered my sister converted a waiter she met at a party. What was her argument? I couldn’t think. “You can go to HillaryClinton.com and look at her platform,” I said weakly. I got off feeling like a total failure. And guess what—all of a sudden I wanted a chance to do better. To convert an undecided voter. I’m going to make more calls, from home. Turns out anyone can do this virtually, by going to HillaryClinton.com/calls. Want to join me?