Monday, October 06, 2008

Sometimes, it moves you

Saturday I was going door to door with a list of names to make sure they were registered to vote. The way it was suppose to work is I ask them who they want to vote for. If they say "Obama", I ask them to volunteer. If they say anyone else, I say "Ok - cool - but Obama's cool."

Then I make sure they're registered to vote, that they know about early voting, and they know when election day is. For the most part, everybody was registered. Lots of Obama supporters, a few "I don't know", but more than anything else, houses with people not home.

Probably the funniest house was the guy who came to the door saying "Heeeeeyyyy, man!"

"Hi, I'm John Hummel." I shook his hand - I made a point of shaking everyone's hands, so they knew I wasn't creepy. "I'm an Obama campaign volunteer making sure people in the area are registered."

"Woah. Dude - I am so drunk right now, I'll fill out anything you want me to." He was a very happy, friendly drunk guy as it turned out. I just left the voter registration form with him, and move on.

It was the last house that everything changed. Turns out I had the wrong house - I was looking for one that ended in a 1, and I stopped at the house that ended at 7 by mistake. Turns out that was the best thing.

I knocked on the door, gave my spiel, and was ready to go home when I heard "Oh my God - you're here to register us to vote!"

I had a Palin-caught-in-a-Katie-Couric look in my eyes. "Um - yes."

"Oh, come on in."

It turns out the house had nearly four generations - a little baby, the mother, the grandmother matriarch of the home, and three older people who had been born in the 1920's.

Three people who had waited 75 years of their life to vote in this election for the first time. The family was mainly African American, save for the youngest generation which was mixed. And those older people, who could barely walk, one was nearly blind, were so excited that I had come to register them to vote so they could vote for Senator Obama.

So I did. I filled out the information, and in slow, laborious hands, they signed their name so they could vote for the first time in their lives. And while I was there, the matriarch of the home was on the phone, calling her relatives, making sure they knew they had to get registered before Monday. And what else could they do - they wanted to volunteer because things were getting bad out there, and they wanted to help.

Just when I think that these little efforts don't matter, something like this happens. For you volunteers out there who try to find housing for the homeless, or services to the sick, serving in the PTA, or even just helping people vote - your work matters.

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