Monday, September 22, 2014

Six things the campaign taught me

While I’m not quite ready to share my thoughts on the weekend’s election itself, I thought I’d mention some things I learned over the past few months. Here are a few of those lessons:

1. Campaigns are physical. I’m not fit at all (no, we’re not going to discuss that right now…), so it’s natural that I’d find some of the campaign work physically tiring. For example, there were four flyer deliveries during the regulated period, plus two before it. That means that on my route alone, I would have delivered approaching two thousand bits of paper, all on very hilly streets. Add to that the other delivery routes I did, taking down signs and even sign waving (standing around for a couple hours, arms raised), and soreness was common.

So, I learned that next time I need to be in better shape before the campaign begins. I plan to be, anyway, but if my goals fall short, I need to go into training at least six months before the actual campaign begins.

Bonus lesson: That same physical stuff that was so challenging at first became much easier by the end of the campaign. This time, the campaign itself became the condition training; next time, it’ll already be done.

2. Projects at home have to wait. Once a campaign gets busy, there’s little time for household projects. I learned that household projects really need to be finished before the campaign begins. That never occurred to me, but I’ll plan for that next time.

3. There aren’t a lot of red shirts for men. I went looking for red shirts I could wear while doing campaign things, but found that most men’s shirts were, at best, a sort of faded red (pinkish, even, or maybe salmon-coloured). I finally found long-sleeved red t-shirts, but the first time I wore one it was as a t-shirt and I looked like a cross between a giant tomato and the Red Wiggle; it was NOT flattering (and no photos were taken, thankfully). I later wore it like a jumper with a shirt with a collar underneath, and that toned it down a bit. Bonus: On cold mornings sign waving, that actually kept me pretty warm.

In the final week, I found a red polo-type shirt with some thin, dark horizontal stripes. The red was nice, and the shirt actually suited me, so I bought a second one (handy, considering the lack of red shirts generally). I also bought similar ones that were mostly blue, even though I couldn’t wear them until after the election. After all, summer’s coming!

I learned I’ll have to shop for red shirts much earlier, and it would help if I was thinner (see lesson one, above).

4. I need a red umbrella. All my umbrellas are blue, and not just ANY blue, but the same shade used by the National Party. That just wouldn’t do. At the very end of the campaign, I found a place that sold a red and white golf umbrella for $7.99 and another place that sold a solid red one for $34.99. Red and white sounds fine. I learned that I need to have that sort of thing organised well in advance.

5. Good health practices wane. I didn’t sleep enough, especially the last couple weeks of the campaign. While I didn’t eat right over those last couple weeks (too much fast food), all the physical activity helped keep me from gaining any weight (whew!). Hm, that suggests that if I get really active, I can eat whatever I want! (kidding)

6. Laughing is critical. I’m not serious about the other lessons (although they’re real). The most important lesson I learned (re-learned?) is the importance of laughter and not taking oneself too seriously. Being able to joke around helps reduce the stresses of campaign time, and that’s a very good thing.

Yes, campaigns matter, and so do elections. But keeping our feet on the ground and never taking ourselves too seriously also matters.

Here endeth the lessons for today.


rogerogreen said...

I was going to say, "Sorry for your loss," but it sounds as though someone died. And political losses DO feel that way, a bit. I've been reading of the fury of some of the YES voters in Scotland, and it surely wasn't, "Oh well." It was more like, "Oh, hell!"

Arthur (AmeriNZ) said...

Over the years, I've won some and lost some, and this time it doesn't hurt as much as shock. But, yeah, sometimes it does feel like a death. This time, fortunately, it doesn't for me, anyway.