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Jan Lauwryn Krafft (I): Wandelaar [Hiker] 1704 - 1765

"I'm in a kind of walking coma …"

I didn't know what I might be called upon to do when The Muse insisted I agree to become her Campaign Manager for her run to be elected Port Commissioner. I only knew that I didn't want any part of the scheme, for it seemed to be another one of those plans to bring me out into more actively engaging outside my head, a make-work arrangement intended to force me to do things I never intended to do. And to some extent, all my suspicions turned out to be true. As I've mentioned in previous stories, I've renamed my role Campaign MISmanager, if only because that title better describes the value proposition her campaign has received from my presence. Still, I've had my moments. I have contributed some value.

I'm now engaged in my new hobby: Canvassing, an obligation transformed into a personal competition.
As every agricultural worker understands, humans compete with themselves when left to complete some work in isolation. No worker ever hoed a row of beans without counting how many weeds he dispatched and projecting his rate of progress in his head. His mind races when engaged in the otherwise mindless effort, for the mind, above all organs, abhors anything even vaguely resembling a vacuum. Minds busy themselves with meaningless calculations and internal recitations intended to entertain the otherwise idle actor. In the days before earbuds, this behavior was especially prominent. This effect emerged for me, too, when Canvassing.

I initially thought I could listen to an audiobook while I Canvassed, but the job's far too exacting for that, for I need to coordinate my actions on a cell phone app. That fiddling demands just enough attention to erase any possibility that I might simultaneously listen to a narrator's voice and distribute campaign literature. I could, though, check another app capturing my step count and spend some time calculating the distances I'd walked. Let's see … if there are one hundred fifty-nine miles of street in this city and another thirty-five in the smaller adjacent one, how long might it take me to distribute to every home on every street at my current distribution rate? Canvassing's not just strolling down a street, though; it's also detouring to front porches and crossing back and forth from odd to even-numbered houses, and sometimes working up one side then down the other side of a street. One hundred ninety-four miles of street could be almost twice that in Canvassing distance.

I've managed fifteen miles in three days, and shin splints willing, I might make half the requisite distance before election day, which stands just over a month away. I clearly cannot hope to hit every street with The Muse's literature, but she's also doing a mailing. The theory insists that voters need more than a single impression, so the hand-delivered information combined with the mailing might make a real difference. Some voters won't vote for her regardless of the information they're exposed to, while others will vote for her regardless. Like almost everything related to this campaign, Canvassing seems nebulous, and it is impossible to accurately project an effect upon it. It's obvious, though, that any attempt to determine any future outcome will remain imposerous for the duration. This obvious fact will not dissuade this one from continuing his calculating.

I had not expected or feared that accepting The Muse's coerced conscription into this role might lead me to TakingAHike. My job as Campaign Mismanager has officially devolved into more or less precisely what I'd earlier feared, for hiking has taken me out of hiding and onto the street, where I live in mortal danger of having to interact with others. I even handed out stickers to the kids. I must cut an odd silhouette, though, as I purposefully stroll with my newsie bag slumped over my shoulder and my cell phone's charging cord trailing up and out of my back pocket while I continually refer to where the Canvassing App is directing me. I'm in a walking coma, capable of interacting but mainly meaninglessly calculating how many steps I'm taking and translating that count into miles, then figuring out what percentage of all the streets I've covered so far. I am not Getting Out The Vote so much as getting some exercise. I'd be lying if I suggested I don't enjoy this.

©2023 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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