Originally published March 7, 2016, but once again relevant because I’m now living in the hell that is the 2018 Illinois governor’s race.
I’ve been working from home since January 2013, which means this is my first presidential campaign season. You know what I’m talking about: political callers and door knockers. It’s not going so well.
Actually, it started out okay, but I jinxed myself.
First, I did a little dance when I remembered we got rid of our land line a few years back, which meant I would not be interrupted by political pollsters and robocalls all day.
But then I remembered that we kept the old phone number as a cell phone. I’ve tried blocking the calls, but they just call from another number. When my blocked calls list reached its limit a few weeks ago, I warned my extended family not to worry, and then permanently turned off the ringer. This has only been slightly effective because now I worry. I feel compelled to check to make sure none of them are trying to call me for some emergency. Like what if my tiny, elderly mother-in-law is trapped under a heavy piece of furniture?
Next, the door-to-door canvassers started knocking. Every time anyone knocks at the door, my coonhound barks like there is a serial killer on my front porch. Every. Single. Time.
The first time a canvasser knocked, I crated the dog and opened the door to a smiling, clipboard-carrying young woman. I had one of those surreal moments where internally you feel like you’re the same age (you know, 21-ish) but then you realize the last time you were her age you were crying into a beer over some dumb boy while listening to a Metallica cover band in a smoky bar, at which point she was probably in diapers.
I politely answered her questions. Yes, I’m a registered voter. Mm-hmm, I’m planning to vote. Yes, I’ve researched my vote and yes, I understand where her candidate stands on the issues. Sure, I know where to vote. Yes, of course, I know when to vote. I casually joked about her not being born yet when the Wall came down. She replied that she once listened to her dad’s old vinyl copy and it was kind of okay. Afterward, I spent twenty minutes on my couch, dumbfounded at the facts that a) she didn’t know I was talking about the Berlin Wall and that b) her Pink Floyd review was “meh”.
The 117th time a canvasser knocked my coonhound once again startled the daylights out of me by barking as if an axe-wielding evil clown was chopping down the front door. I was fed up. I felt neither polite nor chatty….and things went a little differently.
Desperate, I looked around for a way to silence her. I noticed the container of dog treats on top of the piano. Luckily, the curtains were closed, so I dropped to the floor like an action movie hero in a war trench. Head down, I belly crawled across the room but somehow took a wrong turn and found myself under the dining table.
The canvasser must have heard my out-of-shape panting and grunting, because he knocked again. I didn’t care. I was committed to my cause, and I was going to see it through to the end. I backed up and made a break for the piano.
Despite the sweat dripping into my eyes, I managed to find a piano leg. When I tried to stand, I bumped my head on the underside of the piano, which spilled the dog treats onto the piano keys. The dog leapt up on her hind legs to chomp all the treats before I could gather them. Her coonhound paws pounded up and down the keyboard, accompanied by my horrified shrieks, and the terrible noise sent both of my poor cats into a howling hurricane up the stairs. Together, we were a crazed, screeching quartet.
As the dog’s lips smacked at the last of the treats, I knew the barking would start again. There was no way out. I was literally trapped under the piano.
The canvasser knocked again.
“Hello? Is everything okay in there? I can hear you breathing. Are you all right? Do you need me to call 911?” he asked.
My throat was dry, which made me sound like an old woman trapped under a heavy piece of furniture. “No. I mean, I’m fine. Just, uh, rearranging the furniture. I can’t open the door because um, the piano is blocking it. Just leave your campaign literature on the porch. I’ll get it later.”
Momentary silence from the porch.
I smiled to myself. My hands and knees were covered in dust bunnies, there were dog treat crumbs in my hair, and I probably had a mild concussion, but I had avoided the umpteenth discussion of my voting habits with a well-intentioned stranger. I had won this particular battle in the War of 2016.
But then, like a Shakespearean dagger, the final blow landed.
“That’s okay. We’ll just come back at a more convenient time.”
Two things: 1. I’ve stopped joking that someone might be calling me because they’re trapped under a heavy piece of furniture. 2. I hope they aren’t because I won’t be able to hear a thing with my new noise cancelling earphones.