So I basically told my boss I wasn’t interested in electoral work. I felt like a pussy, but I didn’t say yes just because I knew it would please other people for me to say it.
And then I actually talked to my peers about it.
Which I hadn’t before only because it’s hard to go to someone you respect, who has dedicated a lot of hours, summers, years to this kind of work, and say “I think your job suck(s)(ed). I know it’s the backbone of this organization, but I don’t think I want to do it. What say you?”
That’s not quite accurate, though. I observe the workings of the canvass office and am fairly in awe of the people who do it—well most of them—and worry that I’d fall into the category of those who can’t hack it. So really, my hesitation is all about fear of failure.
The same day that I said no, there was an event for resident Philadelphia alums and current employees of our network of organizations. I ate little pieces of toast in a bourgeois old city bar, drank $6 bottles of lager, and hung out with really cool people. I’m a difficult person to impress, yet I find it hard not to like almost everyone I have ever met through my job.
Afterwards, a crowd of us went to a restaurant with a seventies themed decor and reputation for comfort food. We were a former state director, an alum of the graphics department, my boss, me, a field manager, and the director of a voter registration project. We eat, we talk about pets and how bad people are at writing cover letters.
On the way back, Adam is telling me that their intern turned up his nose at canvassing as part of his internship. The only things I know about the intern is that he has a serious face and a hairy neck.
If you’re smart, Adam says, and you’re outgoing, you can do it. Like, I think you can do it.
So I say a little, finally, about how unhappy I think that I would be.
Of course, he says, it’s hard when you start. There’s nothing natural about going out and asking people for money.
Which goes into the compost mill of my brain. And the next evening, sometime after six I get in a long conversation with my coworker about what it’s like to do electoral work, specifically. He worked for MoveOn in 2004.
It’s interesting how when you talk about something you love, the details fade away. Justin loved the work.
All this time, I’ve had my head in a hole that is the details—will I have to move? what will I do, specifically? if I would spend 15 hours of my day at something, how can you not tell me hour by hour what I will be asked to do?
The people I met there, he said, it’s like, if I ever saw them again there would be an instant connection because we went through this thing together.
And the next day I sent my boss a follow up e-mail saying only that my perspective had shifted, and if I could work in Philly, at least primarily, then I would do it. I know of couches in Pittsburgh, that could be OK, too. Just my luck, PA is a swing state.
What persuaded me in the end was the simple reminder that I would be part of a team.
I’m still sure it will be painful, but there would be company. How could I have overlooked this?