The drama of elections is not all it’s cracked up to be. It’s largely tedium and data entry. I’m sure about this. I’ve been out canvassing over two elections. I’m even in a WhatsApp group of canvassers. I can’t claim a high level of commitment. It’s all proving a bit tricky.
“We’re looking for people to lead.”
“I can do that,” I said.
“It’s tricky with you because you can’t see the computers. We need to take advice from the university about your access needs.”
“Why don’t you just ask me. These things are usually pretty simple.”
She didn’t say this but she might have meant to: “This nice young person who doesn’t know what he’s doing, will forget to call you in the morning. If you give him your number, he’ll lose it.”
So it came to pass that I was repeatedly phoned by the candidate’s team to ask if I would volunteer, and how I repeatedly said I’d like to. I wrote to the party leaders office to ask if there was anything I could do to help in respect a bit of a disability bump in the road. The leader promised to reply within three weeks. That was their final word on the matter.
I booked a bit of refresher canvassing training. I went. It was cancelled but a nice woman talked me through it. Then the canvassing was cancelled. Then I volunteered to do the canvassing that replaced the cancelled canvassing. That turned out not to exist.
On a chilly Friday afternoon, I got a lift to the rendez vous. “This is Anna,” said team leader. We all shook hands. “Sadly, Anna can’t see very much. She’s partially sighted.” I wish I was. “Unfortunately she’s always had this problem but she’s making the best of it and she’s volunteered. Anna and I have canvassed together before and I did the data entry and she did the talking. Isn’t that right Anna?”
It’s not how I remember it but I can go with that.
“Perhaps it would be helpful if I were to speak for myself.” I couldn’t help myself.
“The app doesn’t work with enlarged text. I can’t make it work with voice over. It might be the app that’s the problem. No one knows how to make it accessible. If someone can do my data entry shall we just carry on?”
I’m relieved to be with someone who knows what they’re doing. Top “go away” line of the afternoon goes to the teenager who when asked if his parents were in replied,
“They’re busy. They’re on the toilet.”
As the light began to fade I’m finding my stride. “Are you Mr Voter registered to this address?”
My companion is tugging at my sleeve. I plough on. We have a chat about the merits of voting for my Candidate. Mr Voter says. “I probably will vote for them. I’m not trying to get rid of you but….” I’m braced to take the insult on the chin. “I need a shower.”
“Completely understand says my more experienced companion,” and legs it. I follow at a sedate pace. It’s twilight and there might be traps in them there steps.
“Did you see that?”
“What?” I ask.
“He was not exactly in a state of decency. He was in his dressing gown. Nothing left to the imagination.”
I never noticed which must have been a little disconcerting for Mr Voter.
“Politics is never best discussed in a state of undress on a cold day”, my fellow canvasser observed,
Yesterday, I was out with Aussie Dave. We got shouted at. “never mind,” I said, putting my arm around his shoulder. “I can see the pub from here.”