Walking in Allen Park.

I actually got involved in politics by a combination of necessity and accident. Back in 2002, I was living in Arizona, and just beginning a job teaching for The Princeton Review. It was only a part-time job to start, so I decided I needed another part-time job to balance out my budget. (Not that I've ever actually balanced my budget, but at least I was trying.) Fortunately for me, the Arizona Democratic Party was hiring, and they'll take anybody.

So I spent almost two months campaigning door-to-door for the Democratic Party, before they decided I was too smart for canvassing and moved me into the office for the tail end of the campaign. (Sometimes, I wished they'd kept me on the streets. I like the ground-level stuff, and I get in less trouble there.) Like many political jobs, that job ended on election day. When I moved back to Michigan in 2003, I sat out politics for a year.

Today, I decided to get back in the game for real. I woke up with the lyrics to Buffalo Springfield's "For What's It Worth" running through my head, believe it or not, and decided to help the local Democrats do some door-to-door work in Allen Park. I threw on an old campaign t-shirt from my Arizona days, tossed a bottle of water and an umbrella in my bookbag (I forgot sunscreen, dammit! Always pack sunscreen!), and headed out to Allen Park.

I was a little late arriving at the city park used as a staging area because, once again, my parents gave me bad directions. (Note to self: Stop getting directions from stroke victims!) As seems to be the norm with Democrats around here, the person in charge didn't bother introducing himself or asking if I'd done this job before. (Not only have I done this job before, I've done his job before. I tell you, it's like amateur hour out here. How do we keep winning Michigan with operations like this?) He gave me a stack of campaign literature, a hastily drawn (and overly-optimistic) map of territory to canvass, and told me to come back in two hours.

It's generous to call what I did canvassing, because all we really did was leave campaign literature on people's doorsteps. I ran into another volunteer on the edge of my designated territory, probably because Anonymous-Guy-In-Charge didn't explain he was drawing edge-to-edge maps. The other volunteer (whom I greeted with "Friend or foe?" when I saw he was delivering literature) and I agreed to share the street -- he did one side and I did the other.

After my designated two hours of literature delivery (which covered less than three of the six extremely long streets I'd been assigned), I returned to the staging area, which was now being used for a Democratic hot dog roast. Some old guy complimented me on my "Democrats United" t-shirt, and then started lecturing me about political history like I was twelve. A couple of redneck volunteers had a discussion about how Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton weren't good leaders for the black community, but that they liked John Conyers. (They better like him. He's the congressman for half this area.)

Somebody put a tape of John Kerry speeches on a boombox. (Did I just type "boombox?") The music accompanying the lectures was "For What's It Worth". I finished my hot dog, bought a John Kerry campaign button (never had to pay for buttons in Arizona, dammit), and went home. The worst part? I still have that song stuck in my head.

Posted at 11:41:06 PM EDT on 18 September 2004 from Trenton, MI