Monday, November 17, 2008

The Rhythm

8:15 AM. Wake up. Don’t bother with eating breakfast, drinking coffee, or brushing teeth – all that stuff was waiting for me at the office.

8:45 AM. Arrive at 3493 Zafarano Drive Suite B. Immediately start making coffee. Begin planning what I wanted on my breakfast burrito.

9:00 AM. Do whatever cleaning we failed to do the night before. If needed, we would have a meeting to discuss what everyone’s priorities for the day were.

9:25 AM. Call in burrito order to Aldana’s, the New Mexican food place next door.

9:30 AM. Regional conference call. First Alfred, our regional director, would make sure all the field offices in Region 4 were listening. We would discuss our goals for the day, share what worked and what didn’t, and ask any questions we had. Alfred would usually close us out with a pump-up speech of some sort: “you guys are the best region in the country what you’re doing is SO important NOW GO OUT THERE AND KICK ASS –YOU’RE NOT JUST GOING TO MEET YOUR GOALS YOU’RE GOING TO BLOW YOUR GOALS OUT OF THE WATER YOU KNOW WHY??? BECAUSE THIS IS REGION FOUR AND HERE AT REGION FOUR WE ALWAYS HOLD OURSELVES TO OUR OWN BEST STANDARD YEEEEEEEE-HAW!!!”

9:55 AM. As soon as that conference call was over, someone was out the door to grab the burritos.

10:15 AM. After my breakfast burrito (with bacon, red chile, and avacado, smothered in green chile, with a side of breakfast potatoes) had been consumed, the work day really started. It was different form day to day, but usually I’d do an assortment of the following tasks:

  • Make several hundred phone calls (recruitment calls and confirmation calls mostly)
  • Train volunteers to: go canvassing, make phone calls, or enter walk-data or call-data into the database
  • Assign turf to outgoing canvassers
  • De-brief with returning canvassers
  • Scheme
  • Meet with volunteers. I quickly learned that investing time in volunteers would almost always pay off big. Spending 15 minutes getting to know someone, sharing why this campaign was so important, would save me hours of time later on. I could ask a lot more from the volunteers I knew well. Saying “I need you to find five friends and sign the up for five canvass shifts apiece,” or “I need you to organize a ten-person phone bank out of your house,” would actually work with the volunteers I knew well.
  • Fix the printers
  • Fix the internet
  • Fix the vacuum
  • Make more coffee.
  • Help keep the office habitable, functional, or hygienic.
  • Adjust my status on the Fired-Up-O-Meter

9:00 PM. The law prevented us from calling into the public past 9:00, so all the phone bankers would go home. By this point, the only people remaining in the office would be the full-time staff (and possibly a truly gritty data-entry volunteer or two). Because the office was technically closed to the public at 9:00, the atmosphere relaxed a lot. Most of us were pretty wound up (or wound down) by then; all those hours of being professional, sociable, and friendly, all those ridiculous questions we would politely answer over and over again, all those hard-asks for recruitment, all those annoying volunteers we wanted to strangle but couldn’t – would take their toll. Everyone in the office loved 9:00. We would turn on some music, and maybe even drink a beer, but most importantly, we would relax. There was still a great deal of work to do, but the atmosphere shifted enough that we had fun.

9:30 PM. Another regional conference call. At the end of the day, Alfred would once again lead us through a round of sharing with the rest of the region. Often times he would simply ask for “ups” – something that went well that day. He would give us another chance to ask questions, or go over details, and end things with some more inspirational stuff for the next day. While we were listening to the 9:30 call, everyone in the office was usually scrambling to enter all the call or walk data into the database.

10:00 PM. State conference call; like the regional call only bigger. The field offices wouldn’t talk on the state call, only the regional directors. We tried to have all our data into the system before the statewide call so that when Brent Messenger, the state director, asked Alfred for region four’s numbers, he would have as big a number to report as possible. Just like the rivalries that existed between offices in the region, the regions were fiercely competitive as well. The campaign fostered competition at every level, even between states themselves. In October we had Knocktober Fest, where each battleground state kept track of the number of knocks they had compared divided by the number of field organizers. New Mexico lost Knocktober Fest to Oregon (which is TOTAL FUCKING BULLSHIT – not only are they not a battleground state, their metrics were inflated because they had almost no paid staff (because they aren’t a fucking battleground state!) – they just built a massive infrastructure from the primary that stayed intact through the general even after they stopped paying their staff), but we were in the top 3 for performance in every category every day. The state call was one of my favorite parts of the night, usually because region 4 was the top performing region.

10:30 PM. After the state call, after all the data was in, it was time to recut all of our walk-packets and call lists. The voters who were contacted that day were sifted out of the lists so that (in theory) the only voters remaining on the lists were ones who hadn’t been contacted before. Many days we would re-print our entire universe (the list of voters we were trying to contact that round). This would take about an hour. Those of us who weren’t printing would clean up the office, or assemble walk-packets.

11:30 PM. Once all the work was done, we had a decision to make: go to bed? Or go out? Naturally we all needed as much sleep as we could get, but hanging-out after work was an important part of staying sane. Losing another hour of sleep was well worth it if it meant getting to see smiles on all my co-workers faces, getting to have conversations that weren’t about the campaign, or getting to unload some of that mountain of stress we’d all been building throughout the day. We would hang out after work at least every other day. Sometimes we’d go to a bar downtown. Other times we’d go to someone’s house and watch TV, or soak in a hut tub.

Repeat every day (with slight variations), until the election.

1 comment:

Mandel said...

2 pm: receive text message from Lowe's bathroom