It’s nice to go out on a high note.

As of 8:00 p.m. election evening, the moment the California polls closed, I once again became unemployed.

Over the past three and a half weeks, I have gained about $1,000, a water bottle, tote bag, and t-shirt (I won something in each of the office raffles) each proclaiming me to be allied with one union or another, none of which I actually am, three $25 gift certificates for working eight-hour shifts, and a fair chunk of experience in dealing with disgruntled people over the phone.

I have lost one purple Swarovski drop earring, and some naivete about the political process — not that I was all that naive before.

I worked with some wonderful human beings, but I once again totally failed to exchange basic information such as phone numbers or email addresses.  I did grab the email address of one of the supervisors, who promised us all references.  I also made a point of going to all the supervisors and thanking them for creating such a wonderful workplace:  given the type of work, it could have been horrible, and it was anything but.

Tuesday was by the far the best day I worked: no salesmanship, no explaining exactly how important raising the minimum wage in San Jose or the sales tax in Santa Clara County was, or why Jimmy Nguyen would make such a good District 8 Councilman.  All I did was call registered voters and remind them how important it is that they vote.  I could be happy and enthusiastic, and most often I had people thanking me for calling. I had more than one person tell me how important what I was doing was.

Given my deep conviction about the vital importance of electoral process, this was perfect.  As I told one of my supervisors an hour in, I was having fun.

One man awkwardly explained he was in fact in the polling booth as I called.  I forbore reminding him that he wasn’t supposed to have cell phones in there.  Another women defiantly said “I voted for Romney,” and was surprised and sheepish when I gently replied, “I don’t care who you voted for, ma’am, only that you voted.”  I had more than one person, recognizing the phone number as being that from which they had received numerous political calls over the past month, state before I had a chance to say anything “I voted already.” My favorite was a woman who explained that her son — the person I was calling for — had voted already, and went down the line listing the propositions and how she had told him to vote.  We were both laughing by the end of the conversation.

I laughed a lot, and smiled, and said “wonderful!” and “have a great evening!” and meant every word of it. One of the other staffers, a woman who had done this for many more weeks than I had, complimented me on my rap, and told me how genuine and pleasant I was.  I was flattered, and more than that, relieved. Being a torch-bearer for representative democracy is a role I take very seriously.

Like the census job in 2010, I felt that what I did mattered.  Of the five campaigns I worked on, three and a half were successful.  (One of the campaigns was for two candidates for city council, one of whom was elected, while the other was not.)  I helped make sure that education can be adequately funded in California, and that people living on the edge in San Jose can make something closer to a living wage.

Now the election, and my stint as a phone banker, are over. I think that I, and all the people who sat next me on the phones and computers, did a good — and important — job.

I’m sad to see them go, but happy things turned out so well in the end.

This entry was posted in Politics, Work!. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to It’s nice to go out on a high note.

  1. Hi Pat, Thank you for your thoughtful comments and your help in making this a successful campaign! Would you allow me to re-post your piece on the South Bay Labor Council blog at'd love to have you write for us as well!Thanks again.Stacey Hendler Ross, Communications Director, SBLC

  2. Pat Greene says:

    Hi, Stacey. Please feel free to re-post or re-link if you want to. I'd love to talk to you about writing more for you. Pat.

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