Vermont Campaign Journal - Day 8
|Vermont Campaign Journal - Day 1|
|Vermont Campaign Journal - Day 2|
|Vermont Campaign Journal - Day 3|
|Vermont Campaign Journal - Day 4|
|Vermont Campaign Journal - Day 5|
|Vermont Campaign Journal - Day 6|
|Vermont Campaign Journal - Day 7|
|Vermont Campaign Journal - Day 8|
|Vermont Campaign Journal - Day 9|
|Vermont Campaign Journal - Day 10|
|Vermont Campaign Journal - Day 11|
Day 8 - The Science of Recruiting
Today started bright and early with a radio interview. We didn't have much time to get ready in the morning, I just grabbed some cereal and we were on our way. Hardy, Dave and I drove down to Colchester for an interview on WVMT 620AM. We met Ken there, who was going to hang out with us for the day. The interview started at 7:40 am. We were just a touch late, but its alright.
The hosts were friendly, and no surprise, they knew Hardy. We got started right away. We were all in the same studio, unlike the earlier radio interview. Hardy, the two hosts and I, were all standing up and all facing each other. It was a bit more natural than the other one. We didn't get a chance to take a picture, the spot was real short. It went well though. The host plugged the debate too which was good.
After the interview we went over to St. Michael's College, but it was only like 8:15 or so, and it was too early to really start tabling. So we grabbed a bagel and drove back to Hardy's and chilled for an hour and a half. I sent Ken and Hardy the Dee & Evans study Mike Males sent me. They looked it over and printed it out. I wrote some more in my blog, and did other online type stuff. Then Ken, Dave and I got back in THABOAT and went down to St. Mikes.
We didn't have a table reserved for us, but it was raining out, so we decided to just grab a table and hope for the best. We loaded up with stuff and headed on down to the cafeteria. There were plenty of tables set up in the hallway in the student center on the way to the cafeteria. No one was using them, so we just took over two of them. We set up our stuff, Ken manned the table and Dave and I stood on either end to bring people in.
It was amazing. Everyone was coming to lunch, so there was a steady stream of people. It never got too busy for us to handle, or too slow either. Just a steady, continual stream which made it perfect. I was definitely on fire. We were pulling everyone to the table. Unlike some schools where we had a lot of nos, at this school almost everyone signed it. It was great too having plenty of pens and plenty of table space. At times the entire length of the two tables were filled with people filling out the cards. Like 10 at a time. The pile of filled out cards quickly got bigger and bigger.
I also made two good contacts at the school in addition to the many rank and file who filled out the card. One guy was very enthusiastic about the idea, and I had a second to talk to him more indepth. He told me he had six friends in Iraq, and definitely understood the injustice of being able to go to war and not drink. He was very interested in starting a chapter and getting actively involved. I can't wait. Plus, I told him about the debate and he said he was definitely going to come and would bring dozens of people with him. He figured he could fill car loads of people to come up. Very fricken awesome.
I also talked with a counciler at the school, an older guy, who said he was strongly opposed to raising it to 21 in the first place, and still felt the same way. He said before it was raised, students were much more likely to come to him with their alcohol problems and seek help. Now everyone is afraid of getting in trouble for underage drinking. He would be a great person to speak out on the issue.
For like an hour and a half we were mad busy. It never got more than we could handle, but it didn't drop off. Finally we started to run out of our cards. I thought we had plenty, but we just signed up like crazy. I called Hardy to let him know we needed more cards. He first suggested we go to Kinkos or Staples because it'd be a bad waste of time if we drove back to his place and then back to Burlington, but he then agreed to just make some up and drive them down to us himself. Very cool. By about 2 it had slowed down a bit at St. Mikes so we met with Hardy at Jay's house. Jay lives near Champlain College, so we just parked there cause it was easier.
Hardy gave us another 200 cards. We only had like 3 left of the earlier batch. Very much a good sign. We loaded his car up with our tabling supplies, and he drove us to campus and dropped us off. We had a table reserved for us in the student center. Right next to some homeless charity table. The place was pretty quiet though when we got there. It was well after lunch and too early for dinner, so it was a dead time. I went around and talked to all the folks in the room (people playing pool, reading, watching tv, etc), and I got them all (or most of them) to sign.
One woman I spoke with, an older professor type, was very interested. Since it was slow I just took an extra few minutes to sit down and chat with her about it casually. I like it when I get some time to talk to people more in-depth, one on one. Usually when I'm tabling its so fast and frenzied, its like I'm on an assembly line. Not that I mind always. When I'm really cooking its a good feeling, like a sport. Like at St. Mikes, I felt like a pro-athelete having a good game, everything was moving as it should, and I was in the zone. Everytime I flagged down a group of people and got them to sign the cards I felt like doing a touchdown dance. I'd check the pile of cards, like I was checking the score of the game.
So I guess there is some definite fun involved in the fast recruiting. However it does feel a bit superficial. Once someone takes the card I'm done with them and I move on to my next kill. I feel like I'm using them, preying upon them. I feel like a used car salesmen, giving out a great pitch and sometimes getting the "sale" by the force of my will alone.
Its different though when I get a chance to speak to someone one-on-one. Especially someone who sympathizes with me. They relate some personal experience on the issue, and I share some of mine, we discuss the issue and for a brief moment connect in agreement over an issue. In the assembly line I'm just focused on getting my ideas into the heads of others and getting them to do what I want. When I've got more time, I can really listen to someone else, and what is cool about that is I get to hear others say my points back to me. Nothing makes me happier than having strangers make my arguments. The more people out there who understand and can articulate our points, the better it is for the movement. So when I get a chance to talk to them, its great and I feel a sense of long term accomplishment.
Then again I also get a sense of short term failure. Spending time preaching to the choir is damaging to the goal of getting more people to sign the cards. In the assembly line mindset I've just wasted 10 minutes talking to 1 person, when I could have spent 10 minutes talking to 30 people. It seems terribly inefficient. So I usually only take the time when things are slow.
Anyways, there can be benefits from taking the time to speak with people more personally. The woman I spoke with is a staff member, and said she'd like to have us come speak on campus. So on the one hand it was a waste to spend 10 minutes talking to her, it paid off with building a contact that could arrange a speaking spot. So its always a trade off.
Back at the table things were at last starting to pick up. Our table was real small though, so we didn't have as much room for people to write. Plus our table was right by the door and I had to throw myself at them sometimes while they were still in the doorway. We had a good rush, and got most of our cards for the school then.
Then this one guy came and wanted to talk to me about the issue. He didn't agree, but he was polite and intelligent. Usually when someone just wants to argue with me I try to politely extract myself. But this guy was genuinely interested in the issue and was reasonable in his arguments. Plus he seemed to be quite intelligent, so debating the issue with him was a nice intellectual challenge and good preparation for the debate the following night. Plus it is a pleasure to discuss an issue with someone who can rationally consider our arguments (for the most part) and someone who is honest enough to recoginze when a good point has been made and conceede the point.
While he didn't dispute many of my central points, his main argument was that lowering the age to 18 will allow more 16 year olds access to alcohol (and he's probably right), and he just did not trust 16 year olds with alcohol at all. He accepted the benefits of the European system and said that he'd love it if the US never had a drinking age in the first place, but now that we have it would be impossible to change things. He predicted the transition costs in drunk driving and alcohol abuse and such would be too great to warrant making the attempt. So basically his argument rested on those two points, that 16-year-olds would be too irresponsible with alcohol and the transition would be to costly. He even said he'd have no problem with allowing 13-year-olds more access to alcohol, but he just feared folks at 16. Based on personal experience he said. He said he was reckless and immature and such at 16.
So both his points were ultimately subjective. Are 16-year-olds reckless? Well that is just a stereotype and prejudice and can't be satisfactorally proven. Will the transition be too deadly? Well is 1 additional death too much? Is 5? Is 50? It depends.
So even though he didn't ultimately come around (if we had more time perhaps), it did make for an interesting and challenging debate. Others had gathered around to listen to us. In any event I enjoyed it.
Ken and Dave were able to handle the table for the half-hour or more we had this debate, so that was good. Ken feels a lot more comfortable now with tabling than he did before. He has seen me and Dave, and watched our approach to it and he is now more comfortable with the statistics and arguments and information we have on the issue. So with that exposure and experience comes increased confidence, which is really the key ingredient. Ken is fairly soft-spoken which can be a liability in a recruiting/petitioning/card-filling-outing gig like this. But as the day went on I gave him more time to just handle it himself, and I sat back to give him the chance to do it himself. He did good. As has been said, the purpose of the Invading Hordes is to create Vermont Hordes. If Ken gets that good experience to become a good tabler, then that is a valuable victory for NYRA-VT that will have long lasting benefits.
After Champlain slowed down we packed up and I dropped Ken off at his dad's house. Dave and I went back to HQ. Hardy's cousin was there at the house when we got back. Hardy, his counsin and his girlfriend(I think) were trying to figure out the button maker so they could make some custom buttons. They weren't having much success. So I gave them all a crash course in button making. It took a bit, but they figured it out and made their buttons. We talked for a bit then they left. They will be at the debate on Tuesday.
Hardy made some good dinner of cous-cous, fish and asparagus. Gourmet stuff. I really don't like fish, but this stuff wasn't bad. I got seconds. We watched the Simpsons, and then watched ABC News' coverage of the Vatican and all the stuff going on there. The procession of John Paul's body, the viewing, the selection of a new Pope, etc. Very interesting. Hardy left for his soccer game. I counted up the cards we had filled out today. 207(or 217, I forget) from St. Michael's and 90 from Champlain College. About 300 for the day, not bad at all. And over 200 in just an hour and a half at St. Mikes. That's insane. Bonnie said that 25 an hour is a good rate for petitioning. We had over 200 in an hour and a half. Very fricken good.
Dave entered in all the cards we had today. I got online and checked my mail, wrote in my blog, talked with people online, etc etc. Robert wanted to raise $411 to fly Chris to Olympia to testify in behalf of the Washington voting age bill. He said Chris is very articulate and would be great to have there, but honestly $411 is way too much. We can't afford that. Maybe they can get greyhound or something.
We had a NYRA chat tonight. It wasn't one of our more successful ones. I was distracted with work, and the chatroom was incredibly laggy. Worst I've seen in a while. I talked with Galen. He had been put in charge of organizing the phone banking for the Vermont campaign. We needed all the folks from Norwich called and invited to the debate Tuesday night. So he found some volunteers and took care of all the calls. Everyone was a bit discouraged though about the calls. Most of the calls got a machine or they left a message. And the few people they actually talked to, most said maybe. They shouldn't be disappointed though, this is normal for phone banking. Even just leaving stuff on the machine helps. They get the message eventually and its a good reminder to come to the event. Plus it keeps us in contact rather than them never hearing from us again. I think it was a success.
I called Cathy and talked to her for a while. I tried to limit excessive cutesiness. I had a lot to do, so I didn't want to talk long, but we still ended up talking for over an hour. Its just so easy to talk to her, I didn't even notice how long we had been talking. So, we talked, then I went to bed a bit before 2 am.