You have to possess a certain water-off-a-duck's-back attitude while phonebanking. The first rule is not to take anything personally. The second, third, and fourth are: do not spar, do not wish people ill, and do not scream. On Friday, I felt like doing all of these things, and I think it's a testament to my basically even-keeled temperament that I was able to restrain myself.
I began my shift calling Las Vegas, and things went pretty much as expected. Republicans were supporting McCain, Democrats were supporting Obama, and non-partisans were split. I worked my way through Vegas and then started to call a place which shall remain nameless, but which is rural and east of Reno. Here were some of the things I heard (followed, of course, by my comments). If they don't make any sense, it's because they...don't make any sense:
1) "Well, if I believed in SOCIALISM, I would vote for Obama. But I don't believe in SOCIALISM, I believe in our democracy. I believe in democracy, democracy, democracy!" (Okay, lady. Got it. Democracy is the bestest thing!)
2) "I tell you what. I would never vote for someone who refuses to say our pledge of allegiance and who honors the flags of other nations." (You tell 'em, mister! The flags of other nations should only be used as toilet paper for big American asses!)
3) "I'm voting for Sarah Palin." (I couldn't resist a little sassiness here. I said, "Sarah Palin isn't running for President." And she said, "I don't care! I'm voting for her!")
4) "My friend told me he's one of them whatchamacallits. And that don't sit well with me." (Well, who can blame you? Whatchamacallits are very, very scary)
5) "I don't talk about politics on the phone! That Obama is not getting our vote! He wouldn't get our vote if he was the last man on earth! I don't talk about this over the phone!" (He had me at 'hello')
But my favorite was an older woman who began to cackle like a witch after I identified myself as an Obama volunteer. "Don't you KNOW I'm a Republican?" Her tone implied that I was mentally defective in some way. This, combined with the cackling, set me off.
I'll admit I hyperventilated a little. And then I decided if she was going to go all Wicked Witch of the West on me, then I would become...Glenda the Good Witch. I replied sweetly, "Oh, yes, I know! But there are SO. VERY. MANY. WONDERFUL REPUBLICANS who are casting their votes for Senator Obama in November that I thought you might be one of them!"
Full silence for five seconds. And then, "Well, I'm not!"
And then I hung up and it was MY turn to cackle like a witch.