I phonebanked (is that even a word?) this afternoon for the Obama campaign. I wish I had time to get more involved in the campaign earlier, but for one reason or another, never found time until the last minute. But I wanted to make sure I volunteered and did something other than donating $ to feel like I did some work to try to get to the finish line.
It's an interesting experience making phone calls for hours. A few observations:
1. I think people were screening their calls. The weather was not so nice in Pennsylvania that all of those people weren't home. I can't say I blame them. Some of the people I actually got to talk to had been contacted 4 times that day, and sometimes from call centers in different cities. I screen my calls based on caller ID, so I wouldn't be surprised if they were doing the same considering the call volume they must be getting. Which brings me to...
2. I started thinking at one point in the phonebanking that I shouldn't screen calls on my phone because I was learning what it felt like to dial 10 numbers in a row and get 10 voicemails/answering machines. Then I thought about it a little more and remembered why I do it at all.
3. Some of the people I called were so enthusiastic and it was so great to talk to them. Reminds you of why you're doing it. I only got 2 calls that turned out not to be supporters, but unfortunately they were the last 2 I made today.
4. I wonder when the day will come that we can have portable real-time technology that updates based on each phone call or home visit, so people in all different cities can track progress on all different levels all at once in the palm of their hand. I think that's more fantasy than reality at this point.
5. Phonebanking reminded me of just how big the world is, and it kind of makes you feel like a really small part of it all. You can hear a population number, or even see crowds of people, but when you're holding sheets of paper with names on them and the lists just go on and on, it really is a different way of seeing just how many people there are.
6. I didn't mind getting sent to voicemail that much. You could hear the message and sometimes I was wondering what the person was like and what they were up to. All from the sound of their voice and their outgoing message. Some people (like mine) had the generic message up so there wasn't much wondering going on there.
7. I liked knowing where I was calling, geographically. I think I had a sheet or 2 of Pittsburgh, another of Philly and a sheet of Johnstown. I think it's my map thing, why I wanted to know where I was calling. It also helps when you feel like you have a "stake" (for lack of a better word) in the outcome. Like when CNN zooms in on a county and you know you've called there. That's kind of cool. Like the way I'll be tracking certain downticket races because I contributed some $.
8. You know that every day you are living through "history." But there are just certain moments when you really feel like you're living through something people will read about in the history books years from now. Hopefully this time it's for something amazing, as opposed to the last 3 things I can think of that are in the history books (9/11, Katrina, the Bush downward spiral). It would be amazing to think of the type of uplifting history that could be made this week, and that we might live through it. One can only hope.
It's going to be a stressful and anxiety-filled 48 (or less) hours...