Mr. Z and I volunteered our services to the Obama campaign headquarters in Lansing yesterday and it turned out to be a surprisingly great experience. They called last week and asked if I wanted to help out, saying I could do things like canvassing, calling people and/or STUFFING ENVELOPES. "YES!" I said. "I CAN HANDLE STUFFING ENVELOPES! SIGN ME UP!!!!" What better way to support the campaign and teach my son the importance of participating in the democratic process than by folding paper and licking glue. (And it was just a bonus that I wouldn't have to come in contact with any actual PEOPLE.)
So, after getting lost for about a 1/2 hour, the boy and I finally pulled up to the headquarters and bopped on in to start a-lickin' paper. But as soon as I talked to the man-boy in charge there (who I'm pretty sure was about 15 1/2), I learned that there would be no envelope stuffing. No sir... I was handed a clipboard, pen and a stack of voter registration sheets and told "Now get on out there and get some people registered!"
Son of a shitfuck.
I am SO not a clipboard-holdin', voter-registerin', stranger-going-up-to-in' kinda dude. I'm really not into "dealing" with "people." I'm not a "go-getter." I don't like "humans." But there I was, clipboard in hand, heading on over to the goddamn Frandor mall to walk the parking lot, trolling for victims.
And it did kinda suck. Basically, everyone we went up to was already registered -- it was mostly families heading over to the Halloween USA temporarium, or polyester sweatsuit-wearin' grannies shuffling over to Jo-Ann fabrics, or polyester sweatsuit-wearin' moms checking out Michaels Crafts-n-Which, or polyester sweatsuit-wearin' families heading over to Sears to buy more polyester sweatsuits. Everyone was very pleasant, though, and a lot of people asked where they could get an Obama shirt like mine, and it was heartening to realize that everyone seemed to be registered (and supporting Obama)... which is a good thing.
But it was hot as shit and when Mr. Z said, "Dad, this really isn't as fun as I thought it was going to be," I realized we needed to switch locales, and quick. So, I checked our list of "hot spots" and I thought we'd do better closer to downtown, so we loaded up the car and headed on over to the Rite-Aid on MLK Boulevard.
And by bingo, I mean that we signed up ONE person, instead of ZERO. But hey, one is good, goddammit! That woman could very well be the deciding vote! And it'd all be thanks to crabbydad and Mr. Z! You're welcome, future!
So, yeah, one person registered in three hours. But shit, it was probably more than you did for the country this weekend, by gum. It did feel good to finally get off my pointy ass and do something, though, instead of just complaining about things and just thinking that I should really get off my pointy ass and do something. And it kinda demystified the whole volunteering thing and showed me that three hours out of a whole weekend is not a lot of time if you feel like you're actually doing something positive, even if it's only in a kinda puny way. And I think it was good to show Mr. Z that it's important to get involved in causes that are bigger than you or your family or your video games and that if a whole shitload of people get out there and just do a puny bit, it can actually end up having a huge fucking impact.
But most of all, I realized that, if you're going to go out with a clipboard in your hand and interrupt strangers on their relaxing Saturday afternoon by talking politics at them, it's very wise to bring along your 10 year old kid with you if you don't want to get punched in the head.