Arthritic Canvass, Stage I
I'm one of those people who find it difficult to demur, to simply say, thanks for the opportunity, but I think I'll pass. What often happens is that recruiters for canvassing for a multitude of good causes will telephone; my name as a prospective canvasser gets around. Mostly because I've canvassed for so many different charitable, medical condition, scientific, or community assistance groups in the past.
If they suffer the ill fortune of speaking first to my long-suffering husband, they will receive a polite dismissal. Eventually, they call back, often more than a second time until they succeed in speaking with me. And then I'm locked in. I think of the need, of the difficulty of recruiting people for the unpalatable work of proceeding from door to door inviting the occasional back-handed insult, and I agree to submit to the ritual.
Because, truth be told, I do manage to collect a fair sum of contributions to all of these charities. And I consider this little enough to do for my community and the society in which I live and love. And since we're speaking of the truth, I will also have to admit that my neighbours, also long-suffering, always tend to respond kindly and generously, also recognizing their personal need to give in some way. Not all by any means, but enough.
But boy, what a balls-up this time around. When the recruiter finally succeeded in earning my agreement, telling me I would share the route with another canvasser, I cautioned I'd do my end of the street. As has happened before, doing The Arthritis Society canvass. Unlike other canvasses, like CNIB, Canadian Diabetes Association, Salvation Army, Heart & Stroke and Canadian Cancer Society where I do the entire street, it's kind of nice to just do half of it.
Glad, though, that I asked the name of the other canvasser, recognizing her as the lovely woman who lives at the foot of the street, always graciously donating to any cause herself, when I call. For when I received my canvass kit and put it away trying to forget it until the very last week of September, and finally determining to go out, I realized, looking at the instructions pasted onto the receipt book, that they were somewhat lacking.
Instructing me, as they did to "please canvass: 1779 - 1801" on my street. Two houses? Not likely. More likely that someone fairly incompetent meant to convey the information I was expected to canvass the odd numbers. Damn. I tried to get in touch with the area captain to confirm my impression, but no luck. So, all right. And off I went. At the fifth house I was informed someone had already been out canvassing, last week. Uh, oh.
Down the street I went, to speak with the other canvasser. Her instructions read even more bizarrely than mine: "please canvass: friends, relatives and neighbours" and she hadn't a clue what they meant, as for example, where exactly on the street? She also, strangely enough, had a different area captain. So we commiserated, conferred and split up the street; she'd do the bottom half, where she lived, and I'd do the top half, where I live.
Did I feel awkward, exposed, peculiar, confused, when it was brought to my attention canvass had already taken place? You bet. It's hard enough dragging yourself out there knocking on peoples' doors asking for donations. Competing with all those other monthly campaigns, some of them legitimate, some not. Along with all the neighbourhood children hawking chocolate bars for school equipment and trips.
Am I gonna do a canvass for The Arthritis Society again? Doubt it. But I've agreed to go out in January to canvass for March of Dimes. Argh.