07 November 2016

Phone banking

I should be posting a response to a Journey of the Universe prompt but I’ll put that off until tomorrow morning and instead tell you about my adventures working the phone bank for Hillary for America!

This morning, I drove K into work (there’s a Metro SafeTrack thing going on right now that has closed several of the metro stations between home and work). Of course, it’s Monday morning and with Metro closed, there are at least double the number of cars on the street as normal. What takes 20 minutes in zero traffic, took more than double this morning. Ugh.

On the bright side, I didn’t have to jump right back into traffic - I parked at K’s work and just crossed the street to the Phoenix Park Hotel to join in the phone banks.

Having done some house calls on Saturday, I was feeling more confident about picking up the phone but still nervous. What made it so much easier for me was that this is the Get out the Vote time - I’m only calling people who are registered Democrats and expected to vote for Hillary. My role is to remind them to get to the polls, inform them about what they need to bring, where to go, and help them make a plan.

The set up was minimal - I checked in, had a quick training and then set up my personal laptop, brought out my personal cell phone, and started dialling the numbers that came up on the program. I’d expected a fancier set up with coffee, snacks, stickers, etc. I was honestly pretty glad to see that they were saving resources and relying on volunteers. It felt really genuine.

We were calling folks in North Carolina today. I made my way through 75 names in just the 90 minutes that I was there. Of course, the majority went to voicemail, so I only actually spoke to about 5 people.

One of the numbers I dialed picked up after the first ring but no one said anything. I said “Hello?” paused and “hello” again. Then I went quiet and realized I could hear someone making a presentation about cell membranes. Oops! Must have called someone in the middle of class and they accidentally picked up in order to stop the ringing.

The people I did speak to were great: The woman who was undecided but grateful to know her polling place; The excitement in the voice of a mother who said she and her sons were going to vote together tomorrow; The young man who said he’d already voted.

There was a nice diversity in the volunteers - an older woman who came in just after me and had a beautiful speaking voice struck up great conversations as she worked through the script. A young man behind me had a British accent and smiled so big whenever a call got through. A black man around my age sitting across from me was in charge of troubleshooting, working with callers to resolve their specific registration concerns. A woman my age who brought coffee in a large mason jar that she explained was wrapped in the sock that her grandmother knit for her but was too big for her foot.

It felt so good to be a part of the group. And even better to see the large group of people just arriving as I left. I hope that they continue to be successful and reach out to empower people to place their vote.

No comments: