Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Department of Mysteries Part 1

As I drove down Route 2 from Arlington to Cambridge tonight, en route back to Somerville from Trader Joe's, I was met with the sight of a small group of people standing on an overpass, holding unreadable poster board signs and waving rainbow flags. I sped by at 60 miles per hour and wondered to myself, "What kind of statement was THAT?"

Who decides to call up a group of friends, or maybe use a service like Meetup, to encourage a group of people to gather on a bridge to hold homemade signs and wave at cars? And who is sitting at home when they get that call and says, "Yeah. That sounds like a good idea. I just happen to have some poster board here. I'll be right over."

What change were they trying to encourage? What solidarity were they trying to build? What point were they trying to make? I just don't understand.


This brings me to another uniquely Massachusetts (New England maybe?) gig that I have never understood. People standing in groups on street corners and outside of subway stops holding signs for their candidates. How is this supposed to make me want to vote for anyone? Maybe it is supposed to inspire the following inner dialogue: "Oh, that candidate has a really attractive man holding a sign. He must be the candidate for beautiful people. I'm a beautiful person, so I'll vote for him!"

When I first moved to Boston, I actually did this for a Latina who was running for Mayor back in 1993. I thought it would be a good way to meet like-minded people. It was the dumbest, most isolating thing I've ever done. After calling the campaign office to volunteer, I was invited to join a group of people on a street corner somewhere in Boston (I don't remember where). When I arrived, I was given a sign to hold. That's it. No introductions to the people, no instructions on what to do or not to when interacting with drivers and passers-by, nothing. And then I stood there. Shy. Not talking to anyone. The other groupies who were also there largely talked to the other people they knew. And no one talked to the people on the street who we were allegedly trying to reach with our "Vote for Rosaria" message.

I have a friend whose husband is running for City Council in Cambridge. I think I'll ask her for her opinion on this curious practice.

1 comment:

Clownface said...

I did talk to the friend whose husband is running for Cambridge City Council. She reports that the standing on street corner thing is simply to remind people that there is an election. Oh, and if you decide to vote, do it for the guy (or gal) who so gently and politely reminded you to. Thanks Ann and good luck to Sam Seidel.