Tag Archives: conversations

A Life Reflection — Back by Popular Request (the Obama Campaign and a Voluntaryism-ist)


Apparently I am more enjoyable when writing about myself than anything else. Awesome. So I can just be a huge narcissist and people will read it up. (Get it? Like, instead of “eat it up?” Ha…ha…ha…).

Ok. There are so many things I could write about. Like, I worked for the Obama campaign in Colorado. I could write about that. Except I can’t really remember what happened. It’s just a blur of 90-or-so-hour weeks filled with calling people I didn’t know on the phone and having the same conversations over and over again. Not to suggest that I didn’t enjoy the repetition of conversations about whether Obama was ahead or behind in the polls, except, well, I didn’t.

I ate a lot of ramen. And a weird assortment of vegetables and one or two homemade pies provided by volunteers (no, I was not in the routine of baking anything given that I basically fell into bed every night). I lived with people who were wonderful Democratic supporters and we were all communal and familial and it was nice, if exhausting.

And about halfway through, they even gave me my own office — cool, right? My red county voted 40% for Obama, which was significantly better than predicted. Oh, rural folk, you are close to my heart.

In any case, it was an exciting deal. I like organizing things and having precise instructions. But it makes me wonder if I will ever have a long-term position in my life. Because most of what I’ve done thus far (professionally or in volunteer work) is bit-sized, small chunks of bigger projects.

Just now I was trying to think of the right parallel word for professionally in terms of volunteer work and it reminded me of a strange anarchist type person that I met in a pizza shop while I was registering voters. Of course, he and his brethren insisted they were voting for Gary Johnson, and by the end of the conversation he ended up sending me a link to the definition of the philosophy of “voluntaryism” that suggests all forms of human association in groups should be voluntary. It’s not a concept I’m completely at odds with, but then I also sort of think it’s a child’s philosophy (i.e. we should never have to do anything we don’t want to do), and I think there are real benefits to growing up (i.e. responsibility for one’s actions, making contributions to public goods even when we don’t really want to, etc). Granted, I have not read extensively about voluntaryism. But Wikipedia offers a offers a peak at it that only too clearly suggests it’s not much for social welfare. I’m pretty big on social welfare, social responsibility, that sort of thing.

What I’m really trying to show you is what my job was like, every day. When you start walking up to random people, registering them to vote, or trying to get them to actually follow through and vote, you open yourself up to all sorts of exposure to their ideas and world view. Sometimes they’re nice/thoughtful/grateful. Sometimes they’re opinionated/angry/confused. Almost always, if they open the door to having a conversation with you (literally or figuratively), people want to tell you what they think. And that is both interesting and occasionally mind-numbing.

If nothing else, I learned a great deal about things like voluntaryism, and I heard a great many personal stories about felons voting rights, veterans’ disabilities, shut-ins’ lives, oxygen tanks, illegal immigration, health care reform, Obama’s desire to alter the American flag, adoption, and religion.

So maybe I remember a few things.

Scene: The Lime (Tries to) Order a Coconut Latte at City Brew


*City Brew is awesome because they have every flavor (most importantly, coconut and almond, not in that order).

(I have already ingested a grande almond latte when I approach to counter, and I have been sitting in City Brew for approximately 2.5 hours)

Nice girl behind counter: Hi! What can I get you?

Me: Hi!

(Awkward pause).

Me: Uhhh… I don’t really know.

Nice girl: Oh that’s ok. Take your time.

Me: Uhh. Uhh. Oh, uhh. Hmmm.

(Awkward pause).

Me: What kind of chai do you have?

Nice girl (perky voice): It’s a syrup!

Me: Oh. Do you know, um, is it Oregon Chai?

Nice girl: No, it’s our own chai, I think.

Me: Right. Would you say it’s sweeter or spicier?

Nice girl: Probably sweeter. Yeah, probably sweeter.

Me: Hmmm, yeah. Ok. Uhh.

(I look up at the menu as if it will suddenly say something different than before).

Me: I’m so sorry I don’t have a brain.

Nice girl: Oh that’s ok! We’ve been really busy. I feel like that too!

(Super perky)

Me: Yeah. Ok. Um. Do you have coconut syrup?

Nice girl: Yes!

Me: Oh good, perfect. Can I have a tall coconut latte?

Nice girl: Would you like that iced or hot?

Me: Oh god, that’s what I’ve been having trouble with. Ohh. But I don’t like iced lattes.

(This might seem like the time when my choice should have been obvious, but no way no how).

Me: Uhhh. Uhh. Hot! I’ll have it hot and a cold water.

(Because they often serve plain water warm in coffee shops, you know).

Nice girl: Ok great. So a hot coconut latte and an ice water.

Me: Yes! Oh. Can it be in the, uh, the mug thing?

(What is the mug thing? What has happened to me?).

Me: I’m so sorry, I’ve just been emailing for too long. It was really busy in here earlier. You must have been busy.

(Holy crap, I’m completely psychotic).

Super nice girl: Yeah, it was totally crazy. I couldn’t even get the pastry case refilled. And drive thru was nuts too.

Me: Yeah. Wow. Cool. Thank you.

(Yay one-word sentences, long pauses between words — I am so articulate).

(I sit down).

(Super nice girl brings over my latte and water and then realizes there isn’t a straw, which she says she’ll just grab for me and I try to say no and it’s awkward but it’s too awkward even to write in dialogue, so I’m just telling you about it here in the parenthesis and wondering who has even gotten this far — why would anyone want to relive this conversation? Why? I don’t know. But now I have and now you can, too, if you just start from the beginning and read again. Up you go!).