|There are elections coming up this fall so naturally, the telephone has started ringing with all sorts of, “Get out and Vote,” calls. Some of these calls are about voting for a specific candidate, and some are just general calls to get the electorate to the polls. Some of them are surveys, with the purpose of discerning for whom we are likely to vote. A lot of them are recorded messages that were made by important and famous people who someone or other imagined would make a difference to us. It's exhausting.
The strangest call that I have received was from a real, live person who politely inquired if I would be willing to answer some brief questions. I really wasn't willing, but I didn't want to be rude since the guy had taken the time to call so I said that I would be happy to answer whatever questions he might have.
“Do you consider yourself a regular person?” he asked me.
This sort of took me aback. It seemed like a strange opening question for a poll. “Define regular person.” I demanded, just for clarification.
There was a short silence on the other line. I assumed that he was now the one who was taken aback.
“Well,” he said hesitantly, “You know, an ordinary American citizen.”
“I'm not certain what an ordinary American citizen is.” I told him. “I mean, a farmer in Iowa might consider himself an ordinary American citizen and so might an artist in Maine or a Hollywood agent in California, but that does not necessarily mean that they consider each other ordinary American citizens, or me, for that matter.”
“We're really just interested in what you consider yourself,” he said slowly and with an emphasis that indicated that he had decided that I was an abject moron. I didn't care much for his tone. It occurred to me that if I were to tell him that I did not consider myself a regular person it would probably end the conversation prematurely, which would undoubtedly make him way too happy, and since he had now irritated me thoroughly, I decided to string him along and make him suffer.
“I consider myself a regular person, an ordinary Jane Doe American, a mainstream mama, an apple pie baking, Fourth of July celebrating, woman on the street.” I told him gleefully. “Mind you, not the bad kind of woman on the street, you understand,” I added urgently. “I'm speaking metaphorically, of course.”
“Oh, of course” he said miserably. I could tell that he was disappointed. He really did not want to talk to me “OK, next question. How do you feel about veterans?”
“Are you kidding? I asked him. “I love veterans! Some of my best friends are veterans. In fact, I'm a veteran and I'm proud to be my very own best friend. Of course, I might not feel that way about myself if I had turned out to be an ax murderer or something, or if I robbed a bank, or kicked dogs, or kidnapped the Lindbergh baby.” I spoke this entire speech with extreme cheer, just to add weight to his assessment of me as a complete lunatic.
“OK,” he answered with a sigh. “You're pro veterans so long as they don't kick dogs or kidnap babies - check. How about taxes?”
“Oh, I don't mind paying taxes as long as they use them to fill potholes in the road because I hate it when they mess up the alignment on my car.” I said. “Also, I pay them because I don't want to go to jail and have to hang out with people who kick dogs and kidnap babies.” I heard something that sounded like a soft groan on the other end of the line.
“How about this,” he intoned glumly, “Do you think taxes are too high?”
“Absolutely.” I agreed.
“So can we count on your support for ___________?” and he named one of the presidential candidates.
“Absolutely not.” I answered happily.
“May I ask why not?” he reluctantly asked.
“Absolutely not.” I assured him.
“Lady, I can't help wondering if you are really taking this election seriously.” he snapped in a voice laden with moral superiority.
“I absolutely am.” I assured him happily. “Are you?”
I never found out if he was or not because he took that moment to hang up on me. Oh, well, that's what he got for thinly disguising a campaign call as a survey. He could have saved himself a lot of grief if he had just come out and said that he was calling for a specific candidate instead of trying to sound like someone from a Good Housekeeping opinion poll. If a regular person is someone who doesn't like being played for a fool, then I am one. Absolutely.