The next morning, we had to get up even earlier to help The Congressman glad-hand constituents at the train station. It was cold and dark, and we forgot to bring coffee.
We handed out campaign propaganda thinly veiled as mini-newspapers. They were six pages long and gave people something to read while waiting for or during the long ride on the Metro-North into the city.
No one would read this today. We have our smartphones and laptops and Kindles. But served as an effective strategy then.
It was certainly more so than the woman running for judge, camped out in the same spot, handing out nail files with her name and a gavel imprinted on them. I was one of the few people who took one. She gave me four.
To our surprise, Don gave us rail tickets and Peter and I caught the last morning commute into the city. We were supposed to give out the newspapers on the train to people who didn’t have one already; most of whom only wanted to sleep.
In our absence, the “team” had grown in size; specifically, with the addition of a group of Guatemalans who didn’t speak English. After inquiring about the new volunteers, Archie tried to convince us that these were ardent supporters of The Congressman who wanted to help.
Now, this may have been the case, but if the movie Contact taught me anything it was that not even Matthew McConaughey can create sexual chemistry with Jodie Foster, and what Occam’s razor meant.
Was the simplest explanation that a crowd of non-English speaking men, dressed for day labor, tracked down the elderly Republican statesman to express interest in helping his campaign?
That Don and Archie thought they needed more hands-on-deck and stopped by a Home Depot with a wad of cash? I’ll take a cue from Dr. Arroway and let you decide.
And if it’s the second, then good for them. Because, unlike us, they were paid.
That night we were excused early and my parents took Peter and me to a fancy schmancy dinner. Luckily my folks know I’m a carnivore and rare beef is something I need, not want.
And if I hadn’t made it clear already, Peter is a master storyteller. From beginning to end, his anecdotes are carefully crafted with the right amount of suspense, wit, and humor; or were that night…
My parents hung on his every word: his life growing up in D.C., general tomfoolery at Burr, and meeting our new friends, the Guatemalans.
By this point, while I was still amused by a good Peter story, I was far removed from being mesmerized by one. While my parents fed his ego with attention, I fed my face with steak.
Poor Peter wasn’t fed at all; while gabbing his food got cold.
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