Friday, September 07, 2007

Two nasties, a slobbering drunk and lots of thumbs up

It was an interesting night, standing on a street corner holding two Ron Paul signs and a cache of slimjims in the middle of this month's street party event. This particular event was larger than normal due to a Harley motorcycle group who was touring the area, complete with a downtown parade and group-sponsored blood drive. It was an excellent opportunity for alot of face time in heavy but casual foot traffic.

I hooked up with David, a fellow Paul devotee and write-in candidate for a city council seat who was tagging along to advance his own campaign, around 6:30pm and we wandered up the block a ways to settle on the most heavily traveled corner at Third and Cherry, right there at the hub of the busiest intersection in the multi-block street party.

The crowd was very diverse, lots of colorful leathery biker types, whole families from kids in strollers to seniors navigating the crowded sidewalks surprisingly well for their apparent ages, blacks and whites alike all enjoying the atmosphere in and around the numerous sidewalk-seated eateries lining this particular street. The weather this evening was perfect after the month-long scorching heatwave we just had, with a nice steady breeze that kept the air from stagnating in the slowly-milling throngs.

I much prefer this environment for politicking as opposed to a busy intersection in rush hour traffic. This particular scenario allows plenty of opportunity to engage the curious, inspire the oblivious, and close the deal with multiple fence sitters. I probably fielded about two dozen "who is Ron Paul" inquiries, graciously accepted about the same number of thumbs-up kudos, and put a slimjim directly into the hands of over 100 people who showed even the most subtle interest in comprehending my purpose for being there. The majority of the crowd however simply smiled as they meandered past with not a care in the world.

And of course, we had a few interesting and shall we say unsupportive encounters. About an hour into it, a man whose attire announced his unquestionable affiliation with the biker group, stepped away from his party and approached me, looking me dead in the eye as he slowly withdrew his hand from his front jeans pocket. Stopping about 10 feet away and suddenly leaning toward me, he flipped a quarter at my feet and avowed, "Not a Chance." Not immediately grasping the entirety of his intention, I continued to smile at him as he stomped back into his own party of friends, turning only once to scowl at me as if I'd somehow just insulted his dog. Ahh, ok, I get it now. I broadened my smile and nodded to bestow my best blessings on the poor lost coward of a man who has probably never even read the first Ron Paul writing, let alone knew anything of his actual positions on the issues.

Next up, about a half hour later, a chubby white haired man attired to exude a certain affluence stared intently at the sign I was holding, racking his brain to recognize the familiar name in front of him. Just as I slid the slimjim from my stack toward his semi-outstretched hand, his look of pained concentration immediately leveled into disgusted contempt as he felt it necessary to utter, "I'm a republican.." while snapping his hand into his ribs to keep my offering from even making contact with his ascribed personal body space. Unaware of the cusses emanating from this man's body language, my friend David took this utterance as his cue to engage the man on the more proximate issue of asking for his vote in the upcoming city elections. The man would have none of it, nearly issuing his own fatwas as if to purge the streets of myself, David, Ron Paul and every other freedom-loving soul inhabiting his planet earth.

Not too long after that David needed to seek out the source of a particularly appetizing aroma that had pervaded the breeze for almost the entire time we'd been there, since he hadn't stopped to eat beforehand. We quickly finalized our plans for more campaigning the next day and we bid our adieus for the night. As it was nearly dark at this point I resolved to stay in this nice visible spot as long as the people remained amicably sober.

Along comes a man very intent on having a conversation with me by first indulging my desires to discuss what I find so appealing about Ron Paul. He listened attentively throughout my explanation, and merely offered his affection for Huckabee, albeit somewhat uncommitted. When I acknowledged that I too liked Huckabee, he began to explain the basis of his appeal, being the Huckster's alleged moral compass that will essentially put God back into everything we do. My smile remained steady, fueled by the comedy of my mind's presentation of eyes rolling at the dreaded church/state argument I was convinced was about to ensue. But at the first mention of the ten commandments, this man abruptly stopped to ask if I could name them. I'm sure I can, I thought, having discussed this issue hundreds of times recently. But, being caught off guard at the man's inquisitiveness, I suddenly drew a blank, succeeding in naming only 4 (honor parents, no lying, stealing or coveting) while struggling to find the rest of them hiding away in inaccessible retreats of the mind.

At this point the man had fully embarked on his well-rehearsed spiel in an attempt to save my soul from damnation. If you've worked in any capacity involving crowds of strangers over the last few years, I'm sure you've encountered similar which always starts off with the stranger offering you something you believe to be of value, such as a (fake) $1 million dollar bill or (fake) golden chain. The purpose of this ploy is to lead you into temptation then guilt you into holy repentance. The first time it was tried on me, a man offered me a million dollar bill. I immediately told him there's no such thing so I didn't care for it, thus undercutting his approach and throwing him off balance. Well in tonight's challenge to list the ten commandments, he offered me the ten commandments engraved on a penny as if it were a highly prized valuable keepsake.

Overall we had a nice conversation that lasted about 20 minutes, but I want to believe that I managed to sway him from his Huckabee attraction, using his own "God needs to bless America again" logic. I told him I did not agree with Huck's position that we remain united even to the point of the entire nation going over a cliff. I tried to explain that God will never bless this country as long as corruption permeates all levels of government, our entire economy is based on the successful inducement of covetous behavior, and trickery and deceit are employed to justify our aims at conquering the world by force. In light of the current state of affairs in this country, there's no way any one of God's children in our right minds should drop our principles and morals and remain silent and subservient to a horribly lost and broken government just to keep the country united. Where is the honor in that?

I could have talked longer because I really enjoy that level of intensity in civil conversation, but I felt I was neglecting the first priority of introducing people to Ron Paul so I stopped rebutting his remarks and allowed him to wind down to his conclusion so he would leave and let me get back to it.

No sooner had I recomposed myself to embrace the crowd when a slovenly fat drunken man put his putrid breath about 6 inches from my nose and insisted that I stop this nonsense and vote for Hillary. Ignoring all internal alarms shooting danger signals so strongly into my frontal lobes that my jaws tensed rigid immediately, I foolishly asked the man "why do you want Hillary?" "Because we need (hic) change. We need a change," he said. Still ignoring my inner guidance I replied, "yes we do need change. Drastic change. And this man's going to do it by putting this country back in touch with its constitution." Coming off such a satisfying conversation with Mr. Salvation, I was stupidly unwilling to shut down on the next conversation that arose. When this creature got 2 inches from my face and told me, "you're a woman. Give Hillary a chance. Vote for a woman so we can have a change," I nearly puked in disgust at the man's obnoxiously drunken sexism. FINALLY, my body shut down and ceased all voluntary responses to this vile stimuli invading the deepest levels of my personal space. This paralysis apparently worked to motivate the man to back off and go on about his night, but one more wreaking molecule of this man's toxic emissions penetrating my olfactory membrane was going to cause a scene to which the dozens of officers onhand would have gladly responded to justify their presence at this heretofore uneventful night.

And with that, at 9:18pm I dropped the signs to my side and left without so much as a nod to the next mass of cheerfully approaching revelers. What a terribly sour note to end an otherwise amazingly fulfilling evening on the streets for Ron Paul.


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