By Jodie Galassi-Ainlay
I did it. I woke up yesterday, studied the repetitive ‘De La O’ street names and absent grid system of my neighborhood maps, highlighted my targets, ironed my jeans (it seemed appropriate at the time), loaded the dog and AZ-required water into the car, stealthily reconnoitered the gated communities which dominate my precinct, returned the dog back home (he’s a progressive but, this was a solo mission), deployed again, parked my car in the coveted shaded area and, finally, emerged – head high, shoulders back, the theme music in my head at a full crescendo.
“IT IS ME! THE DEMOCRATIC PC HAS ARRIVED!”
A man dutifully using the weekend to wash his car was the only one to register my arrival. His skeptical stare threw me into action and, as I squinted at my list, I immediately realized…I should have printed in a larger font. Squinting and staring and searching and squinting, I instantly found myself questioning, who in the world does the house numbering system in North Scottsdale? Why are the odds mixed with the evens? Why had I not reordered my Excel list in ascending or descending order? And most importantly, why had I not worn a hat?? I was definitely less “Patton taking a beach in Sicily” and more “Lucy working the assembly line in a chocolate factory.”
I walked up and down the street, got the numbering system in my head, marched my butt up to the first door, waved my newly printed official Maricopa County Democratic Party PC business card in front of me and confidently knocked. And knocked. Undeterred, I left behind a note printed for this exact scenario, attached to the aforementioned newly printed official Maricopa County Democratic Party PC business card: “Hello neighbor. I am so sorry I missed you today but I will be back again. In the meantime, if there is anything you need, please feel free to call or email me.”
Knock, knock, note. Knock, knock, note. Knock, knock, note. I continued down the street…
And then, it happened. Knock, knock…open door! Standing in front of me was a real, live, pajama-clad stranger and after my introduction, she said the most amazing thing, “Jodie, I received your letter and I have been wanting to meet you. Come on in!” Come on in. Cue the trumpets and choir of angels!
We sat down at her kitchen table and talked. We talked about Trump, because I have learned people need to vent before moving on to other topics. We talked about living in Trumpland and how, in the past, she had worked to help Dem’s get elected in Arizona. Her friend, visiting from New York and, yes, in her pajamas as well, talked about the sweetness of living in a liberal vestige. We could not relate to that comment yet, but someday, perhaps!
And then, my new acquaintance amazingly began to tell me about her Democrat neighbors, some who were not on my list. I asked if she would be willing to attend a get-together at my house this summer, to meet like-minded community members. “Of course,” she said, “and I will bring food and friends.” (Again with the singing angels echoing off Troon Mountain.) She told me how the woman across the street was newly married and her husband, Bruce, was a Democrat and I should absolutely get him on the list. She told me to tell Mr. and Mrs. Down-the-Street she said hello! She said she would help me in any way she could. She also told me she had my introductory letter hanging in her office and how pleased she was to receive it.
And then came the question I thought I was prepared to answer. “So Jodie, what are your plans? What are you going to do and what can I do to help?” It hit me! At that moment I realized the import of this role. We are the face of the party but also the hope that things can change. We have been told many times, the PCs are the backbone of the effort, the front line in the ground game. However, when sitting in the house of a person who 20-minutes prior was a total stranger, they ask you what are YOU going to do, what is the plan, it hits home. And it is awesome! I know not all my encounters will be like this, but if it happens once in a while, it is enough.
Be prepared for amazing moments like this. Be prepared for gated communities, weird entrances, snakes, bees, wary neighbors and strange streets which dead end and pick up again for no apparent reason. Be prepared to enjoy yourself, check out the great cactus in someone’s yard or meet a cute dog. But most of all, be prepared to answer the question, “What do we do next?” by good, kind, willing, welcoming people…pajamas and all.