I got a call. The Call, I suppose you could call it.
"A team leader has dropped out and we need someone
who can make it up as they go along. Can you go and
canvas for the next three days? People seem to really like you on the phone - how about trying it face to face?"
So I get the map, a pad of giant yellow vote-Democrat-on-Tuesday
post-it notes and a list of addresses.
I had never been there before. Neither in real space or in human geographic space. Well I had sort of been there
during my trips to Indonesia, Pakistan and China but never like this. Here was palpable distrust.
A middle aged white male in an all black, poor district of the old south.
I responded to the stereotype of the west side
and hid all but the barest essentials under the car seat,
checked twice that the doors were locked, and headed off to my date with destiny. Knock on a door, a flash
of a face at the window but no-one answers. Leave a note, check off my list and walk along the road. Half
the houses have no numbers: they have peeled off with the last of the paint in a Carolina summer twenty
years ago. I come to another house with 4 or more unmarked apartments to choose from. Knock here, knock
there. A sound of someone checking the little glass telescope and creeping back to their TV. Leave a note,
move to the next house.
A field? The houses numbered 235 and 237 are gone.
It is an unharvested hay field, curiously free of trash.
Trudge on, knock, note and walk. Eyes follow me.
I cross the main artery out of this side of town,
six lanes of nothing on a Sunday afternoon. The numbering
system seems to get even more absurd as I descend the hill towards the creek and the disused rail tracks.
I am standing on the side of the road, there are no sidewalks in this part of town although they are more
needed here than over on the wide thoroughfares of posh side. A elderly lady walks by and examines me
as if I had fallen like a pile of elephant poop at the side of her street.
"Excuse me. Do you know where number 347 is?"
"Gone. Bin pull down. Another of them crack houses."
"Thanks. I'm a Democratic party volunteer trying to make sure everyone knows where to vote on Tuesday.
Are you registered to vote?"
She smiles a wide, gap toothed smile,
"I a Democrat too. You Okay by me, huney. I knows where I go vote. You doing good here.
Let me see now. Old man Siddons, he dead. Numma 367, that been gone too, all pulled down now.
Queen street, that a good place for a lot of old people. Make sure you get them rides to the 'lection. Come wi me."
I follow the suddenly jovial lady up to a house. I swear she didn't reach the door in time to have knocked on it
before it opened. The smell of a full Sunday lunch streamed by the three silhouettes in the door frame.
"Come here, boy." Says a gentleman old enough
to call me boy without it sounding out of place even though I
haven't been a boy in my own mind since the Beatles. He looks me up and down and smiles, offers me his gnarled
hand and I shake it, blurting out the instinctive Anglicism,
"My pleasure to meet you, sir."
"You do talk proper, like Bertha said. What you
got for us today?"
I do my spiel, give them the voter reminder note and I go on my way. This system seems to work, so I ask the
elderly couple who are out walking their dog if they know mister Abercrombie and finding number 345 is so
difficult, I'm a Democratic party volunteer who blah-blah-blah....
"I'm all set to vote and Lulla is too. Fred, thass
Mister Abercrombie, he bin in a weelcheer (at least
that is the word I think I heard) for a coupla' yeers now. He got a ride fixed from the church bus. We'll
take you to Abercrombie's place."
And so it goes on. I walk up to very distrusting
locals and let them know what I'm doing and off we go
to meet another person on my list. There were no (as in none, zero, zip, zilch) Republicans in this area.
One single mother may have the reason, "a tax cut for people living close to poverty is a insult."
This could have been a very encouraging five hours
but it wasn't. Why? Because if these people are all going
out to vote and they vote every time there is an election, as they say they do, (which I tend to believe from the
intensity with which they told me, and the fact that they all know where and when to vote), and they vote for
the Democrats across the board...... then the 30% turn out of registered voters reported on the official returns
is a sham. It is a lie. An untruth used to cover up massive ballot destruction by the Republican controlled ballot
counting centers over on Poshside.
I'm not paranoid, I am now simply enlightened.
I have decided that my statement, "This election will decide
whether the American empire crumbles in the next few years or a few decades from now," is not as hyperbolic
as I had intended. The sad news is that the hard right will probably steal the election if they haven't done
enough with their propaganda tools in the media to hoodwink the public into voting for them. That means I
may be put in the terrible position of having to decide if I send 'told you so' notes as our nationcollapses.
I'll come down from this pre-election craziness
in a couple of days and I'll try to sound more mundane.
However, I think the environment deserves my efforts to save it, oldest son Otter deserves not to be
drafted into an army to fight an oil war, daughter Otter deserves to go to college on a scholarship from
the state if she is smart enough. American gay, atheist, lesbian, black, asian, muslim, jewish and hispanic
people deserve to be full citizens, not demi-slaves. Therefore I am going to go back to the far side of route
124 to talk to as many of my fellow Americans on the streets as I can before the polls close on Tuesday.
Funny isn't it? The fate of the western world could hinge on a skinny English settler walking the crack
ravaged lanes of an old southern town's former slave quarter.
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