Posted by Thomas Nephew on October 26th, 2008
After canvassing for Obama in Woodbridge, Virginia the last two weekends, I was sent to Fredericksburg, Virginia yesterday. I arrived at Bethesda Chevy Chase High School after taking care of absentee voting in Rockville — I plan to take Election Day off and will in fact stay overnight in Leesburg, Virginia so I can help with election eve “get out the vote” (GOTV) work there.
Unlike every other weekend so far, canvassing weather yesterday was *not* gorgeous. We were caught in a driving rain at the high school, and the rain continued in patches all day long. Luckily, my ride to Fredericksburg, Jim M., was utterly brilliant and had brought two huge golf umbrellas — my umbrella is broken and drooping on one side, it would have been a pathetic sight.
Fredericksburg is quite a hike from Bethesda; it’s about an hour down I-95 when the traffic is good — and the traffic wasn’t all that good. We left Bethesda about 12:30, and got to the Fredericksburg office about a quarter after two, I’d say. We got the usual briefing, walking materials, political “literature” — always strikes me as a funny word for the glossy, buzzword-laden fliers — and absentee ballot applications, and headed out on our way, destination Autumn Leaf Circle in nearby Stafford. The route took us past Spotsylvania Mall, and thus through more incredibly bad traffic.
And when we got there, we realized our walking list said “Autumn Drive” — not “Autumn Leaf Drive.” A phone call back to the headquarters confirmed the bad news: we were about 30 miles from where we were supposed to be, the wrong map had been attached to our packet.
Sigh. So we drive back through the ongoing traffic jam, on to I-95, north to the other side of Fredericksburg, and west on VA 3 into a half rural, half exurban countryside of horse farms, mobile homes, and McMansions; houses up long gravel driveways, mailboxes on the other side of the road, that kind of thing. We drive and drive and drive – finally finding ourselves on the walking maps, and head up the first street we’re supposed to visit. We pull up at the house on our list, put our clipboards together, get our umbrellas, get out, walk up the driveway and sidewalk, and knock. The rain is steady; it’s around 4 in the afternoon by now.
And a lady answers, and when we tell her what we’re there for, she says, “You know, I don’t want to talk about this, you all come here too much.” And that was that.
It helped to have a canvassing partner with a good sense of humor. The whole thing really was funny – like we were the butts of a long, long shaggy dog joke.
Things went better after that — how could they not – and we actually did contact or recontact Obama supporters, even way out there in rural/semirural Virginia. The rain let up now and then, we got through maybe half of our “walking” (really “driving”) list of 40 or so houses, and got back to Fredericksburg around dusk.
Please note that I’m not complaining about the map mistake. That kind of thing happens; it just goes to show how every detail is important — and how every detail has usually been right when I get to the Obama campaign in Virginia. A lot of care goes into assembling the walking packets, the people who put them together deserve a lot of credit. Thanks!