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Monday, November 5, 2012

Operation Befuddle: My Election 2012 diary

This year, someone decided Wisconsin was a swing state — and targeted all the telephones they could find.

But as they — and readers of my Facebook page — learned this past month, I have my ways of dealing with unsolicited calls...

Thursday, Oct. 25 — As the phone continues to ring off the hook with political calls, I have decided to take my responses into the realm of performance art. 

Today, I shall be answering all calls as Donald, a 67-year-old single-issue voter who wants Wendy's to go back to using the old buns.

Friday, Oct. 26 — Pollsters and canvassers calling my home today will speak with Benjamin, an aspiring longshoreman whose collie is possessed by the ghost of Jerry Lewis

And yes, I know, but Benjamin doesn't, and please don't tell him.

Saturday, Oct. 27 — Canvassers calling my home today will find an enthusiastic respondent in Thom, a stay-at-home bachelor. Regardless of the caller's political party, Thom will announce with glee that not only does he support the caller's candidate, he's already voted for him — four times. Thom will then ask, "So where all do you want me to vote on Election Day?" and "How do you spell your name again?"

Sunday, Oct. 28 — Pollsters calling this day will hear the weeping of Klaus, an undecided voter still mourning the passing of crooner Andy Williams. He wants to see a return to the old standards.

Monday, Oct. 29 — With Hurricane Sandy on the way, it's unclear how many political folks will be calling today if some of the phonebanks are in the northeast. Those that do call my house today will speak with Jimmie. He is a Kiss Army veteran and he votes.

Tuesday, Oct. 30 — Every political call since yesterday morning has been a robocall, resulting in a temporary suspension of my campaign of befuddlement. Now we know where all the phone banks with live operators are, I suppose...

Wednesday, Oct. 31 — "Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in!" The political calls to the house have started again, leaving me no choice but to return to my campaign of confusion. And so today, canvassers calling my home will speak with Garry. Hard of hearing and expecting a call from the local plumber, Garry will insist that before proceeding, any caller address what's wrong with the vent stack.

Thursday, Nov. 1 — Picking up the phone for pollsters' calls at Casa Miller today is Millard. A duck-decoy painter who last voted in 1976, Millard will be lobbying for an immediate end to the national 55-mile-an-hour speed limit.

Friday, Nov. 2 — Heading out for a convention today, but canvassers calling my home will not do so in vain. The honorable spouse will be answering in the name of Myrna, a yam sculptor of local renown. 

After asking for the campaign's position on the reintroduction of wolf-hunting in Wisconsin, Myrna will grow more and more agitated — until finally insisting that the caller's candidate stop hedging and pick a side in the vampire/werewolf war already.

Saturday, Nov. 3 — I'm in Iowa today, but my little girl will be answering political calls at the house. She will say her daddy is out campaigning for school board and can't come to the phone right now, and she will happily ask for the caller's support. 

When the caller declines for whatever reason, she has been instructed to squeal, "But I want you to vote for Daddeee!" — screaming crying jag to follow. 

That should keep things quiet until Monday.

Sunday, Nov. 4 — No such luck. So when the canvassers call asking for me this afternoon, my son will tell them I'm on the way to the phone — and in the meantime will regale them with details about his new model train layout, in which he intends to recreate the old Green Bay and Western line. He'll continue with a disquisition on how N-scale is better than HO-scale, and then describe how he's wiring the whole set-up. 

When the callers ask if I'm close to the phone yet, he'll say, "Oh, Dad? He's coming. From Iowa." 

Which is then his perfect segue into talking about his plans for the Transcontinental Railroad.

Sunday evening — Back from Iowa, and clinging to a fragment of a voice after a bunch of panels. And now my hoarse rasp should add color to my characters answering the phone for the last round of political canvasser calls to the house. 

For the remainder of the evening, I'll be Gerald, whose concerns about the secret government fluoridation of rainclouds are bound to enlighten and entertain.

Monday, Nov. 5With less than 24 hours to Election Day, I've brought in an all-star closer to answer political canvassers calling my home: Reginald

Reginald has lived on a houseboat in Lake Winnebago since 1996, when he declared it a sovereign nation; due to a faulty media strategy, absolutely no one noticed. Reginald will consider the call an attempt by the candidate's party to open diplomatic ties, and he will say he is open to a summit meeting on the dock, so long as a trusted third party is in attendance. 

He will suggest Cher.

Election Day, Nov. 6 — Outgoing message:
“Thank you for calling the Miller residence. Our phones are now closed for Election 2012.

“After consideration, Mr. Miller has decided to vote, as he always does, for Pat Paulsen. Mr. Paulsen first announced his candidacy in 1968 on the Smothers Brothers comedy program and has run strongly in many presidential elections since then. Despite the candidate's death in 1997, Mr. Miller believes this may at last be the year.

“We do thank you for your interest in this election. If you believe your candidate will win, please hang up now, and begin collecting your yard signs.

“If you believe your candidate will lose, please stay on the line to learn how to find grief counseling centers and all-night liquor stores in your area…”
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