The Toledo Obama Headquarters is beginning to become my second home. My wife and I spent a good part of Friday there along with dozens of other volunteers. It was refreshing to see that sense of service- participation in the political process- among such a variety of citizens. From high school age through senior citizen, black, white and brown-skinned people, affluent and poor, people did what they could for the campaign.
I was hoping to do data entry but all of those laptops were already being used. My wife was in phone bank along with 10 others. An 18-year-old student waiting to begin classes at Ohio State sat with me at the large table, he counted fliers into stacks of 25 while I alphabetized the 'M' file of new voter registrations, perhaps 300 of them. What a variety of names and handwriting! I never knew that the Toledo area had so many 'Mc' Irish surnames.
Behind me were 'training' sessions for precinct captains and other leadership roles. The phones never stopped ringing. One older lady, smile on her face, walked in and proudly announced, "Spaghetti!" as she sat her dish on the food table. Too late for me as I just finished a bowl of cold macaroni and cheese. She set her proud dish among a large bag of apples, fresh tomatoes, apple pie, and homemade caramel candies that had been donated earlier.
A sprightly couple in their mid-seventies popped in about 2 PM and asked, "What can we do?" "Do you like to alphabetize?" I shot back. "Hate it" the gentleman said. "So do I," I quickly added as I took off my glasses and rubbed my eyes. A young man plunked down a large box of markers and a poster on the other side of the table and said, "Mind if I do this here?" he said. I asked, "Are you an art major?" "That answer will be quickly revealed," he quipped. After a while, he showed me what he had done and we both noticed that he wrote, 'neiborhood.' "I guess I need to add a few letters," he said, smiling. I retorted, "It really doesn't matter- the message is clear enough." Art was not his strong point, but this was not art class.
While at the food table getting a piece of candy, I chatted with a woman perhaps in her early 50's. I asked her if she also worked on the Kerry Campaign, four years ago. "No," she said, "this is my first political activity." "Is that so," I muttered. "Yes," she went on, "there were a few issues which recently drove me to become active." I asked, "What if he doesn't win?" Her face lost all affect. "I've thought about that, she said," and I don't know what will become of this country if we have another four years of a Republican in the White House!" "Want to go to Canada with us?" I asked. She didn't answer because she got called back to another desk. But, as she walked away, she turned her head and said, "Maybe!"
My wife and I donated the 'Hope' drawing to the office, a gift from the young men who stayed with us during the Primary. We need to look at that often these days to keep us moving forward.
This afternoon we 'get trained' for our new role in our voting district. That should be an interesting meeting as I have no idea of the role of 'Neighborhood Volunteer Recruitment Coordinator.' Whatever it is, we'll do it.