By Candice Eisenfeld
I am dripping wet, my feet sloshing around in flip-flops. My bathing suit is sticking to my skin and my damp hair is smashed, gathered inside my straw sun hat. I’ve packed my zippered coverall, three-gallons of ice-cold water and…petitions.
This is not a day at the beach. Instead, I am going to man a table set up on a sidewalk, outside a bookstore, in the Phoenix summer heat. The Save Our Schools initiative requires over 76,000 legal signatures by July 31st. I won’t allow greedy lawmakers to eliminate more funding from our already struggling schools while they profit from their investments in charter school enterprises.
I arrive promptly at 4:50pm to relieve the two volunteers there since 1pm. They are a couple in their 70s. I expect them to peel themselves from their sweaty metal folding chairs, thank me for alleviating their heat-induced misery and make an escape to somewhere air-conditioned. Surprisingly, they seem to have lots of energy after four hours with no break. They don’t leave. In fact, there is no sign of misery of any kind. Some people stop to sign the petition and the couple engages. They begin to talk animatedly, guiding the political conversation like expert navigators. It’s the most fun I’ve had all day.
These two are resolute activists. I discover they have been fighting for democratic values for decades. During our discussion, I finally ask how they survived the heat of the day. The woman answers simply, “It’s not hot.”
I am inspired.