Today, in the middle of call time, James came in.
James was the first black man from my turf who had come into my office, but that first time he was only looking for yard signs. On that day, call time was especially slow, and so I had the opportunity to talk with him, to invite him to volunteer, and to convince him that making phone calls would be nearly as hard as he thought it would be. I didn't succeed, but I did have the chance to find out that he was stopping by after dropping off his daughter at dance class, and that her dance class was weekly.
So when he told me that he didn't have enough time to make any calls, 'cause he had to pick up his daughter in 15 minutes, I told him that if he came back next week we could hit the phones.
Well, tonight he came back. I was totally not ready. A lot happens in 7 days, but I did feel accomplished in that I was able to remember the story, and the reason.
James and I sat down to get him ready to make some volunteer list dials, emotionally-speaking very, very easy dials, but I could tell that James was resisting it.
It was the kind of resistance that comes from fear, something that rises naturally and is sincere.
He started challenging me on a number of things, distracting from the phone calls.
He asked me, "So what goes on in this office usually?" He gestures to the rest of the building, the vacant offices.
I work in the United Auto Workers building, for the all the different locals in Milwaukee County.
Thing is, there are only two locals left, and one's retirees.