Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Phone Banks: Unspeakable Horrors.

This past electoral season (I know hearing that probably makes you want to blow your brains out. You've had enough, but I promise this post is comical and has nothing to do with politics...it is merely facilitated by politics) I interned for a congressman's re-election campaign. For the most part, I typed names into databases and resent mail to people who've moved (we will find you again), but every so often I would have to make calls.

Making phone calls to complete strangers is awkward, especially when you know that they really don't want to talk to you. No one wants a political call. In fact, it was quite obvious I was being screened after a little while. I get inexplicably nervous during these calls and my nervous laugh gets out of control.

I am also horribly conscious of each and every time I say "Um." I feel my intelligence dropping and I start to sweat and read the script like a woman narrating a tampon commercial.

Here are some highlights:

There was the time that I called a man and had just finished asking him how he was that day when he cut in and said, "I don't vote for that party! They lie!" in an abrasive tone.

Taken aback, I sputtered, "Oh I'm sorry you feel that way..."

He cut in again, "yeah, they lie all the time," and promptly hung up the phone.

I went ahead and listed him as a person who we could not count on for a vote.

Then there was the time that a woman answered the phone sounding bored and of lower intellect. I went through my entire spiel before there was a pause and she said, "Yeah I don't vote."

Thinking on my toes, I awkwardly stated that voting was an important part of the democratic process and it was certainly important to vote.

She replied, "Yeah I don't understand none of that stuff so I just don't vote."

Not much to say to that so I wished her a happy day. Hung up. Worried about America, and went onto my next call. 

Moving onto the time I was trusted to man the phones. 

The rest of the staff would be out for a while so naturally I prayed for the phone to ring so I could answer it and feel important. The phone did ring and I got an entire ear full from a man that felt as though one of the major presidential candidates was ignoring an important issue and he was worried, and I could I please pass on his message. I assured him I would of course because obviously I, as an intern for a congressional candidate have a close relationship with both presidential candidates. Then I gave him a number to another victory center so he may give his 5 minute spiel to someone else unsuspecting and just wanting to feel important. 

While calling people so get RSVPs for a dinner fundraiser  I was often usure how to pronounce people's names (I would guess occasionally and be corrected with annoyance: Oh I'm sorry you pronounce Liedleman LIEdlemen and I pronounced it Leedlemen: SORRY) so I just asked for the first names of the people.

A man answered and not thinking I asked, "Can I please speak with Bob or Linda (last name)?" 

Gruffly, "This is Bob." 

So essentially, that was the time I made a man question his telephone masculinity.  My bad. 


  1. That sounds like a living nightmare. I take it this was an unpaid internship too? If you knew they weren't going to vote or vote for your guy, couldn't you get the green light to just burp the alphabet at them or something? I feel your pain. Hopefully, for your sake, something good came of your hard work.

  2. Haha. Thanks for the empathy. My candidate won so that was positive, and I'm going to go ahead and take credit for it.