Friday, October 24, 2008

Lonely At The Side Of The Road

Just to let you know, I have been running a pretty bare bones campaign for the school board. Not being a long-time resident of Richmond, it has been pretty hard for me to find people who want to contribute to my campaign. So, at the beginning of the summer I purchased only 125 campaign signs (at about four bucks each). I figured I would put them only on major thoroughfares where they would get the most visibility. No need to blanket the whole district I thought.

After the manufacturer sent signs with the wrong color scheme (I guess they didn't realize that red, white and black were only patriotic colors in Nazi Germany) and then finally replaced them, I started planting my signs at strategic locations in the district. But, a not-so-funny thing started happening. As quickly as I put my signs out, they started disappearing. For those of you who live in Richmond, this might ring a little bell in your memory. Wasn’t it just two years ago, in a school-board race, in the very same Fourth District in which I am running, that there was a big sign war? Didn’t a supporter of one candidate take down all the signs of the other candidate? Didn’t the candidate losing signs set up a sting and catch the unsub red handed stealing his signs? (This is apparently not a crime in Richmond because of a strangely worded sign ordinance.)

Now I knew who was probably taking my signs. But, what was I to do about it? After the loss of about 40 signs I decided I was not winning this sign war. So, I adopted the Charleton Heston approach. I decided to stand along the major routes in my district holding up my sign and waving to the crowd. That S.O.B. will have to pry my sign from my “cold dead fingers” if he’s gonna steal one again. So, Monday evening it was the south end of the Nickel Bridge (on which the toll was just raised to $.35). On Tuesday, I stood along Forest Hill Avenue. Wednesday I was at the south end of the Huguenot Bridge (no toll at all). Thursday I took off to attend a PTA meeting and a candidates’ debate. Tonight I tried the Forest Hill exit off the Powhite Parkway.

So, what’s it like standing on the side of the road, holding up a campaign sign and trying to look friendly. At first, I felt kind of foolish. Then, when a few people started honking at me it felt better (although I am not quite sure that the honks were in support or because they thought I was an escapee from an asylum). From the practical side, I can see and be seen by a lot more potential voters than walking from house to house or up and down stairs to knock on doors. Of course, I don’t know whether or not they will actually remember me at the polls next Tuesday.

Mostly it’s lonely. I try to make eye-contact with drivers or passengers as they go by. But that gets harder as the sun goes down and it starts getting darker. I know they can still see me (or at least my sign) with their headlights on, but it’s not the same. All I see coming toward me are cars that are dark on the inside. I feel more and more alone out on the side of the road even though lots of cars are rolling by. Finally, when I’m not sure I can be seen any more I take my sign and go home.

I’ll do it again Monday and every evening rush hour between now and the election. The lonely candidate at the side of the road.

1 comment:

RVA Foodie said...

Wish I could vote for ya, Bert. Maybe you and Art Burton can team up on a sentimental favorite ticket and give the entrenched political machines a run for their money.