Padma Atluri is a Grassroots Correspondent for HuffPost's OffTheBus.
It's almost closing time. Still, in Clark County, Nevada we're hitting doors. Again. And again. Reminding people that November 4th is just around the corner. That this election is close. That their vote will make a difference-- and if that vote is for Obama, all the better.
Some residents remain friendly, reassuring volunteers like myself that they'll indeed show up at the polls--and support Obama. Others actually have the nerve to say they're undecided... still. But all of them, regardless of who they're voting for, make a point to enumerate the number of volunteers that have preceded us.
"We already talked to someone," they tell me. It's a comment straddling the line of annoyance and disbelief. And I smile, adding "Well, there's a lot of us who really care about this election."
"How many volunteers does this campaign have anyway?" another fatigued greeter asked. I hesitated, unsure if she was referring to my fellow Californians that had also driven across the border hoping to sway our closest swing state in Obama's favor. Or maybe the local volunteers too? Even though I was told Nevada had the lowest rate of volunteerism in the nation, regardless of the cause, I had a different impression after meeting my canvassing partner Maracia. She was a sixty-two year-old Nevadan, nervous but excited to knock on doors. After all she was there this weekend "because Obama asked me," she said. Like so many others she had heard Obama at rallies him pose that pointed question, "Will you knock on a few doors for me?" -- the same rallies designed to court new voters, but in turn inspired busy people to give their time, even when they thought they had none. And so now, this weekend, Maracia made time. And her attendance was at last her affirming answer to the candidate she so believed in.
And then there was Bob. The local resident who for six weeks running has opened up his home to out of state volunteers . On a given weekend there are up to four volunteers in his guest bedroom. But that worried Bob. He didn't want us sleeping on the floor. "You all work too hard to not be comfortable," he said, upon seeing us drag our feet in at night. So he bought us an aero bed. That was his answer. And the perfect one at that.
So honestly, for those who want to know, I don't know how many of us there are here.
But if attendance at the Las Vegas rallies are any indication--a lot. And if you include the number of residents that have felt compelled to provide even a bottle of water as I went door to door in the desert heat, then even more. And if the smiles I get when I walk by in my Obama hat and Smart Women Vote Obama button, then more than I can ever count. They all might not call themselves volunteers. But since they add to this spirit of hope, I do.
But unfortunately these aren't always the people whose doors we are hitting on. There are others-- like those who are more committed to being "undecided" than to a candidate. You can spot them rather easily. They don't want literature, nor do they want to talk. They just want to left alone. But as frustrated as they are with the repeat visits from Obama volunteers, I am just as frustrated with them. Especially since, Undecided, at this point in the election has just become their polite way of saying, "I'm not voting for your candidate." I want to tell them I can handle the truth.
So it's a tug of war at this point. Volunteers will keep going back to the mattresses until it's really closing time. And while residents are overwhelmed--enough so that some homes have even put up handwritten signs "Obama volunteers were already here. Please don't knock" - it's still the dance of perseverance that plays out.
And in the coming days we will see if it pays off. In the meantime, all a volunteer can do is keep walking and keep knocking...until the very end. Hoping that for every one frustrated household, there's two more who can empathize why so many volunteers have been committed to this cause. To this candidate. And to this time in our lives.
Kara, an Obama supporter, put this uncertainty best. "I feel like I am waiting on medical results. I am pretty sure everything will turn out okay. But there is always that small chance the diagnosis will be terminal."
That's true. But we've come too far not to believe in the cure.