• Home
  • Just Life
  • Product Reviews
  • Entertainment Reviews
  • Contact

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Workin' the Phones

Last week I volunteered to work the phone bank for the Cupertino Union School District's Measure B campaign. I firmly believe that we need to do all that we can to keep qualified teachers and educational programs such as science, music and art in our schools. Unfortunately, with state budget cuts looming our public school system is in grave danger of losing many of these programs. That is why I will vote Yes on Measure B when my yellow ballot comes in the mail this month.

But that is not the intent of my post. I want to write about my experience working the phones. I was a newbie. I've never been a cog in the political wheel. But I believe in this cause and figured it was my duty to assist. However, I must admit that despite my conviction, I was a little nervous to be playing the role of a telemarketer, after all I know how those poor people are treated. I'll own up that I am not so nice to the poor guy or gal who calls during dinner wanting to tell me about a new insurance plan, mortgage rate, or magazine subscription. I'm not out right mean (o.k., occasionally I just hang-up--that two second delay is a dead giveaway), but most of the time I engineer a graceful exit. I've been known to say I'm the babysitter, that I'm in the middle of dinner (which is not a lie because I truly am), that they have a wrong number, or let my kids answer the phone and have a chat. For some reason, I have a hard time coming clean and just saying that I'm not interested. I don't know why--that is fodder for another post.

Anyway, my evening on the phones was not so bad. 30 volunteers from our school (parents, teachers, and administrators) were all there ready to do their best to make a difference. We received our call lists and training and then we were off--dialing for votes. I breathed a sigh of relief when the parent leading the training told us that we would be calling on people who had already been qualified as supporters of the measure. Our goal was to Get Out the Vote or (GOTV), to remind people that their ballot would be arriving in the next few days and to encourage them to vote YES and mail it in. I think I would have broken into a major sweat and squeaky, stuttering voice, if I had to don a sales hat and convince people to vote "yes." I'm not saying that I couldn't/wouldn't do it, but it would have required some Mitchum and a few Stuart Smalley moments (You are good enough, you're persuasive enough, and you wont get upset when someone is rude).

My first page of calls went smoothly. It was a piece of cake. I confidently dialed each number and the script flowed effortlessly out of my mouth. That was until I called Mrs. Smith (name has been changed to protect her identity) who informed me that she had spoken to her husband and was now unsure exactly how she was going to vote. She then proceeded to ask me numerous questions such as how many pink slips are expected to go out, how big are the budget cuts going to be, is this really going to affect our schools. I tried to answer her questions as best I could. And as I did she went on to tell me how back when she was a teacher she had to teach 30 kids and boy was that tough. I listened and tried my best to move on to the next call, but she clearly wanted to have a long chat. I finally got off the phone. A few calls later, I had the pleasure of speaking to another person who informed me that the URL for the Measure B website was too long and how he should know because he is a tech guy and no one would remember any URL more than 10 characters long. I told him I'd pass along the information and managed to squeeze in a plea to vote Yes before hanging up. After these semi-nerve racking calls, I had to relay my stories from the trenches to my fellow phone buddies. I was not alone, we all had a few "phone bank war stories" to share. Thankfully, we each only had a handful of long-winded or opinionated calls.

After grabbing a couple of brownie bites and a few swigs of lemonade (your mouth really gets dry when you talk so much), I was ready to forge ahead. It only took a few calls to see a pattern. I knew which folks would thank me for volunteering (quite the rush), I could predict who would be a bit crotchety, and I could guess who would just want to get off the phone. Yes, the ages of the household members were listed. Secretly, I began hoping for answering machines when I would see a certain age demographic.

In the end, I only had one person hang-up on me before I could finish my pitch--her kids go to private school-thank you very much! The majority of people were all very cordial and treated me kindly. And most importantly it was truly gratifying to be a part of this grass roots effort that will make a difference in my kids' education.

If you would like to help with the Measure B campaign, it is not too late. Calls are being made each night throughout the week and a district walk is scheduled for April 18. Click here to register and don't forget to mail in your ballot! This is a mail in only vote!

1 comment:

  1. I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.




Please leave your comment here. We request word verification to prevent the spammers out there. Thanks a lot!