Forty-seven lines per page — names and phone numbers, each of which is I’d guess 8-point Arial font. Small for even youthful eyes. Mine quit being youthful a decade and a half ago. And to make the chore even less cheering, the numbers were not separated, as they most frequently are, by a dash after the area code, and another dash subsequent to the first three numbers. It was XXXXXXXXXX. Finally, to add difficulty to the low-tech task was calling folks on princess-type phones; outdated by the time I was out of my teenage dating years. Each call was a wearing program of look at the number on the sheet, look at the alphanumeric buttons on the appliance, push each one, then wait the four to five rings to hear the owner’s outgoing message. Note on the sheet, NA. Move on to the next.
Hang up. Voters are inundated with calls. No need to add my message to the irritating cacophony. Time consumed for each call: approximately one minute. I’d bet on it, if you were to conduct some time-motion study.
Five pages on the evening before, four last evening. Tedious.
And of the dozen or so I actually reached, four were numbing. It was a list off registered Democratic voters I was pulling from.
“I’m not going to vote for a black.” I hung up right away.
“Barack HUSEIN is a Muslim. He’s a terrorist, hangs around with . . .” Click. That was my receiver ending the call.
“I’m voting McCain. I like Sarah Palin, she’s a real person.” That was a woman on the other end of the line. I tried to edge her more toward reality, and the pale translucency of the Alaska governor’s actual qualifications to possess the nuclear codes. But, you becha it was hopeless, or at least so it seemed.
“She’s not home right now, who’s calling, how’d you get this number?” I identified myself as calling for Veterans for Obama, and to remind the husband of the woman I was trying to reach that early voting ended Friday, the 31st. “Oh, she’s a registered Democrat, but she voted for McCain this time. We need someone who can deal effectively with terrorists.” Wow! I thought to myself, before bidding the fellow a nice evening, Reno, Nevada: gotta be red-flag high on the Terrorist “to-do” lists. Like, if someone is that all akimbo, worried that the Peppermill or the Atlantis casinos are going to be hit . . . I ask you now, do you think that al Qaida has even heard of Reno?
I should have anticipated I’d get a few of those sordid reflections on a clipped intellect. After all, Nevada is fourth from the top of the national dumb list, winning the silver medal for per pupil NOT-funding, the silver for high school drop-outs, right behind Wasilla and the State of Alaska, and another silver for the terrible healthcare of its citizens. These are Olympic events, it seems: Who’s stupidest of all, who equips their students most poorly, and who has the least number of nurses and doctors. So, yeah, I guess I should have anticipated some of the phone responses. All the same, however, it is demoralizing beyond words.
Makes me want to tell some folks not to let go their grasp of the tree-branches their hirsute fingers are wrapped around. But I’d have to be a Dr. Doolittle to do that. He could “talk to the animals,” all I can do is shake my head in pitiful dismay.
John Adams is dead, literally of course, but figuratively as well. In 1765, he opined that, “The preservation of the means of knowledge among the lowest ranks, is of more importance to the public, than all the property of all the rich men in the country.” Today, Americans are more interested in being fully informed about Ugly Betty’s woes, the details of Jen’s love relationship and the status of her womb, and who was let go on America’s Biggest Loser.
More and more, every hour of every day, I find I’m increasingly empathizing with Diogenes. While he stalked the paths of Greece in search of an honest man, my quest has been for an intelligent and informed American. It’s been a long eight years, and I’m burned out.