The auto-dialer is bringing up my first benighted Florida voter — benighted because I think many of these people are getting calls upon calls, how bloody annoying — and I am remembering things that I’ve forgotten about myself.
For example: I remember that I hate talking on the phone, hate it so much, lived happily in England for so long where people don’t call each other on the phone very much, send texts and emails to avoid the affront of the unanticipated ring, the awkward silence, or doing a quavering, high-pitched phone voice.
For example: I remember that the only people I have historically spoken to on the phone are parents and boyfriends, siblings on occasion, a handful of friends one to two times each per year.
For example: I remember that in high school I would find the idea of calling people to interview them for the school newspaper — a member of the school board, a student for a vox pop about the local shopping mall — that the anxiety would cripple me, would be enough to move me to tears. Sitting next to the phone in the kitchen, my parents rolling their eyes because it had to be done but also I could not do it.
(For example: one time my friend called some upperclassman, a random selection from the school phone book, to get a quote on some pressing question on cafeteria rules or something, and he peed while he was on the phone with her.
I could hear it, she told us the next day, AND THE FLUSH, and we shrieked in horror. For example, that was the kind of thing that could happen if you call people on the phone.)
The woman across from me at the table at the campaign office has a delightful manner: casual, friendly. She’s able to do spontaneous chat and even not get mad when people hang up or tell her they’re voting for Trump. Have a good evening! she trills, speeding on to the next call, and I think, Wow, unlike me this woman is so American.
We’re supposed to be checking to see if Florida voters have received their mail-in ballots, and also reminding them that they can vote in person starting on Monday. For example: I remember that I haven’t lived in the US for a presidential election since 1996 and I actually have very little understanding of how voting works.
Hello! I say brightly, This is Jean, calling on behalf of the Florida Democratic Party, and people say, I have already voted for Hillary or STOP CALLING ME or I’m not sure who I’m voting for (I think WHAT and then I look at the provided script and say...Well, I wasn’t sure about Hillary for a while but I feel like she is the only candidate who will protect my rights as a woman, and the woman on the other end of the line says, OK and I say, I hope we can count on your support! in a quavering high-pitched phone voice).
On the way home, on the subway, I imagine some future post-apocalyptic state where my nephews will say to me: Where were you, Auntie Jean, when everything went wrong? And I will say, Hey, it wasn’t my fault, I did not stand by, I called people on the phone.