Listening in was an education

On Saturday, Jan. 3, I had the good fortune to listen to a handful of people calling on behalf of a candidate for the Iowa House of Representatives for the Tuesday, Jan. 6, special election in Sioux County. I was reminded, again, of some of the fun of living in a small-town, rural area.
Almost everyone who answered was polite to the callers. About the roughest thing said was, “I’ve already made up my mind” and “Probably not.” There was one “Leave me alone,” though. The majority of folks were polite, even in enthusiasm for a candidate.
It’s almost as if telephone etiquette was part of growing up around here. I can’t vouch for what was said after the phone conversation was over, or what folks are like behind the wheel of a car, but good manners were the rule on these calls.
The callers knew many of the folks they were calling, so conversations ranged beyond the script. Some of the older respondents recognized the callers, in one instance, an elementary school teacher remembering the caller from grade school.
Even with wrong numbers, there often was a conversation.
Also reinforced for me was the identification of people to places. When a number was called and the person had moved, the person answering the phone was often still acquainted with that person, recognizing his or her home as previously belonging to the person who had moved on, even to the point of keeping the same phone number.
Apparently you have to live in a home for a prescribed period of time before it becomes yours.
Reminds of receiving and giving directions around here: “You know the _______ (fill in the surname here) home? Turn left there until you get to the _______ (fill in the surname here) farm. You turn right there. They live a half mile from the _______ (fill in the surname here) place.”
Be prepared to talk distinctly, I was reminded by the Saturday callers. Senior citizens are a large part of Sioux County’s population. Even if they don’t hear as well as they used to, don’t write them off. They have opinions, so be ready to listen.
Increasingly, a number of the calls involved a person answering the phone who speaks English as a second language. It helps to know the that language. Sioux County isn’t, strictly speaking, an English-only area any more.
It takes courage to get on the phone to make calls for a candidate. First, the person calling identifies himself or herself with a candidate and a party. Second, the caller exposes himself and herself as a person politically involved, which is chancy, given the level of confidence in state and national legislators. Third, the caller is exposed to points of view different from his or her own. And, I’m sure there are any other number of reasons one can list.
I was encouraged with the long list of people who were interested in the candidate and impressed with the folks calling, local politics at its best.


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