There will be cold calling in my future. It’s nearly inevitable. Cold calling is, of course, terrifying. Everyone knows that. So today’s challenge was to call people and try to get them to vote for me for Seattle Port Commissioner.
Let it be noted in advance that although we do have a municipal election coming up, Port Commissioner is not on the ballot. None of the current Port Commissioners are up for re-election until 2017. I wasn’t going to even verify this in advance, but as I sat nervously at the dining room table trying to put this off, I saw my ballot sitting next to me on the floor. So I opened it.
I should be running for Prosecuting Attorney.
I called 15 people at random out of the phone book. I only got two actual responses. I wanted to get to 5 for the challenge, but after the second one I stopped for reasons I’ll reveal shortly.
The first woman sounded very skeptical when I asked if she was Mrs. Gilbert (name changed on the off chance this could lead to me being hacked apart by machete). She said yes, and I started in on my schpiel.
“I would like to know if you’ve considered who you’ll be voting for in the upcoming election for Port Commissioner.”
“Yes, I have, thank you,” she said, and hung up.
I sighed with relief and dialed the next number. Someone picked up.
“This is Randy,” he said.
“Hello,” I said. “Is this Mr. Newman?” (Real name changed so I can pretend I’ve met a famous songwriter.)
“I am calling to find out if you’ve considered who you’ll be voting for in the upcoming election for Port Commissioner,” I said, with a steadier voice than I managed with Mrs. Gilbert.
“No,” he said. “I haven’t. Who are you calling about.”
“Um…I’d like to recommenced that you vote for Jesse LaJeunesse for this position.”
“Oh really,” he said, rather than hanging up like a decent person would have done. “And why is that?”
I had an answer for this. “Do you know as much as 75% of crime in Seattle is linked to it’s docks?”
“No,” he said. “I was unaware of this. And what would Jesse do about it?”
Yeah, the dock percentage was as much material as I had prepared. He went on to ask a bunch of questions I didn’t have answers to:
Q Who are the current candidates? A: There are five candidates.
Q: What are their names? A: I do not have access to that data at this time.
Q: Who, specifically, is Jesse running against? A: Her name is Maria Caldwell, which I pulled out of my ass based on our current Senator, Maria Cantwell.
Q: What is she doing wrong that means Jesse should be elected instead? A: She has gone on the record to say that crime is not her concern and not in the purview of the position of Port Commissioner, and she is more interested in trade and tariffs.
Q: What is Jesse’s background? A: He has 10 years of experience in crime journalism. He has been published in a variety of newspapers on the east coast. He has no background in politics but is running now because he has seen an issue no one is addressing.
Q: Yeah, but what is his current occupation. A: He’s in retail.
Q: What does that mean? A: He sells books. He works at Barnes and Noble.
Finally, after what my lying phone assures me was less than 6 minutes, he thanked me for the information and told me he’d consider it. He actually sounded somewhat convinced. I’m sure he wasn’t convinced, but he didn’t sound like he thought my bullshit was just bullshit. It’s too early in this challenges to say for sure, but I’m coming to the tentative conclusion that people will nearly always take things at face value.
The sound of his hanging up was beautiful. Even though it wasn’t really a sound at all.
I decided not to call anyone else. I will admit that nervousness and the desire no to go through that again was a factor, and I lose points for that. But mostly I’ve realized that if I’m going to cold call people, I shouldn’t actually lie to them. That’s probably illegal and it’s pretty messed up in any case.
I’ll have to plan more carefully about my next cold-calling challenge. And do it very, very soon.