Tuesday, August 24, 2010

41 bucks and a beefsteak tomato

Glossary of canvassing terms:
Rap: The conversation you have at a door.
Contact: The person you speak to at a door.
Turf: The neighborhood or area in which you work.
Burb: The van or suburban vehicle that delivers you to turf.

I've been humming the Black-Eyed Peas "Today's Gonna Be a Good Day" again this morning even though I didn't have such a stellar day canvassing yesterday.

Sometimes you do everything right and it still doesn't work out. It happens once in a while. Yesterday was one of those days for me. The weather was absolutely perfect. I had on a pretty cute outfit. I'd gone for a little swim before work. I got to work early. I practiced my rap. I was ready to go.

But it just didn't happen for me out on turf. I didn't raise standard. I didn't meet the basic goal of raising $150 per day for Clean Water Action. This has very rarely ever happened for me when I've canvassed in the past. It has happened a few times when I've been emotionally off my game or dressed inappropriately for challenging weather. But everything was as perfect is could be when I hit turf yesterday and it didn't happen.

The only negative thing that happened all day was when I got into a discussion about my turkey lunch meat with another canvasser. She was calling it "flesh." She's mostly a vegetarian and only eats meat about once a week. I said, "hey, I'm eating here. That's disgusting, calling my food flesh." She said, "You think it's disgusting to you, how do you think we feel smelling it?" I guess she sort of had a point. This is the canvassing culture -- lots of vegetarians. A meat eater such as myself need to be a bit sensitive.

But anyway, the turkey comment certainly didn't wreck my game. Not at all. I guess that even though the numbers work out over time, sometimes they just don't work out every single day. Typically I knock on about 60 or 70 doors and talk to about 38 to 42 people and I have no trouble exceeding standard. Last night I knocked on more than 100 doors, talked to more than 50 people and I only collected $41 and a beefsteak tomato. The tomato is glorious. I think I'll slice it up and share it with the woman who doesn't like turkey lunch meat this afternoon.

I think it was genuinely a situation of lack of money in this particular neighborhood. About 70 percent of the people told me they were out of work or collecting Social Security. Some of them who were in that situation still gave me a few bucks. The guy who gave me the tomato wanted to give me a huge bag of tomatoes. I had no way to carry them all but they were absolutely beautiful tomatoes. I look forward to eating the one I accepted.

So, even though I didn't raise standard, I did spread lots of good will about our Great Lakes and I got the word out about protecting them.

And for those of you who are following the love life of the Poor Journalist, I can tell you I had a really sweet date with a very interesting man Sunday night. He called yesterday. We're going out on Saturday and we have a ton of things in common. He's my age, six-foot-four, and he loves to travel -- went all around the world when he was with the Navy.

My favorite thing about this guy -- he's an amazing storyteller. Seriously, I love a great story. The man sat at the bar at the Sidetrack in Ypsilanti Sunday night and completely engaged me in stories of his travels to Amsterdam and Spain. When he was twenty-two he ran with the bulls in Pamplona. He told me personal details of the experience that rivaled what I've read in the stories by Hemingway and Mich Albom. And I've heard all sorts of people talk about Amsterdam. But nobody ever told me about the bicycles. This guy told me about the hundreds of black bicycles that are left all over town. You borrow them to get from point a to point b. Leave the bike at point b. Then borrow another bike to get from point b to c. Perfect! Why don't they do this in every city? Being a local government nerd and hearing people argue about various methods of public transportation for endless hours, I just wonder why this doesn't happen everywhere?

(Phone call. It's him, an interruption in story.)

Anyway, I like this guy. Seriously, he's going somewhere. He's got something special.

He just asked me on the phone, "What kind of date do you want to have on Saturday anyway?" I wasn't exactly sure what to say to that. I nervous talked for a few minutes. He said, "This isn't a multi-level marketing plan or anything. But you're an intelligent person. You seem to want to go somewhere. Why don't we spend just forty-seven minutes on Saturday talking about business. Then after that, we can do something else."

I started nervous talking and the battery on my phone died.

As I was rummaging around my room (it's loaded with furniture from everywhere else in the condo because the carpet is still drying)I decided, what the heck? I mean, I have 126 fans of the Poor Journalist Gets To Business series who want to see me get down to business. This guy thinks there's actually still a chance I could make 57 K by January 2010. Plus he's really cute. Plus he's a good kisser.


So what's there to think about?

I called him back.

"So, my phone battery died. I was nervous talking, don't know how much you heard."

He laughed.

"So, you want to teach me some things about business on Saturday, hey?"

"Well, I just think you're very intelligent and you've been very complimentary to me about what I'm doing."

"OK then. You've got me on Saturday. Whatever you want to do with me, is fine with me. I'm just along for the ride. You can teach me whatever you want."

He liked it.

"Is tomorrow Saturday?" he joked. "Oh wait, no. Tomorrow's Sunday isn't it?"

Seriously, this guy might have spent most of his life as a teacher, but this guy's the real deal.

This guy's a salesman!

Yikes; I like it.

Our Lady of Guadalupe, Blessed Theresa of Calcutta, St. Teresa of Avila, St. Therese de Lesieux, pray for me...


  1. woo hoo… am loving it!!! You definitely have to keep us updated! By the way, so sorry I missed your phone call. It's been a nutty, crazy, boiling week.

    We're right now sequestered in the studio with the cooler blaring in an attempt to evade the 100 degrees outside. Joseph is putting the finishing touches on his "Credo" for the big Mass piece that will be performed at the Escondido Performing Arts Center in the end of October. And I… am reading a wonderful book on the "When the Divine Will Reigns in Souls", a selection of passages from the Revelations of Luisa Piccaretta. If you ever get the chance to look her up, I think you'd appreciate it. =)

    So what's the guy's name?? =) What's he look like? How'd you meet him?


  2. Seriously... I can't give his name. We only just met once. The poor man may have run for the hills now given that I mentioned him in the blog. But he is an excellent storyteller and you know that's one of my weaknesses. Plus, very cute and stuff like that...

    Yikes! I feel sort of bad for the guy... being the subject of my blog. :-).