29 February 2008

diary of a mad campaigner (part 4 in a series)

i am 930 miles en route to galveston, texas, from los angeles, california, for team obama. it’s my first ever campaign adventure and it is already one for the books.

okay, so i’m not sure exactly where i am. i know i’m somewhere in texas and i know i was in el paso 130 miles ago (eating at cracker barrel – yum!). my 70-year-old cohort and i have traveled 930 miles in the past 32 hours. check that.

today, we stopped for lunch at some roadside truck stop, in new mexico, with a subway restaurant (does that count as a restaurant?). my cohort and i are incessantly campaigning. her car is covered in obama signs and we are dressed in the uniform of dedicated crusaders. we get a lot of questions, a lot of high-fives, and a whole lot of second glances. anyway, we ordered our subs today from someone who asked what we were doing in his neck of the woods.

my cohort said, “we’re on our way to galveston, texas, on a political campaign.”

subway guy says, “oh yeah, what kind of campaign?”

i said, “barack obama for president.”

he said, “who?”

i said, “barack obama. he’s a senator from illinois who is running for president.”

with nary a spark of recognition and a teensy bit of embarrassment, subway guy shrugged and my chin fell to the floor (i mean, really, someone in america hasn't ever heard of barack obama?). my cohort said, “you’ve never heard of barack obama? don’t you watch the news?”

subway guy replied, “i only watch sports.”

my cohort told him he should get involved and at least vote because without his voice, he’s allowing terrible things to happen. i piped in with my favorite dubya diss, “yeah and you let douchebags like george w. bush become president.” (it's almost a shame how truly underused the word douchebag is used to describe our current president).

he laughed (cuz, yeah, the word douchebag is funny) and said, “i hate george bush.”

my cohort pressed subway guy why he hated george bush and a terrible tale tumbled from his lips. apparently, subway guy enlisted in the army and was sent off to fight the war in iraq, where he discharged 1200 rounds each day into enemy lines. he had a mental breakdown, was brought back the u.s. for treatment, and went a.w.o.l. from the treatment center. he eventually turned himself in and was "bad conduct discharged" from the army, thereby forfeiting all of his benefits. now he works at a subway somewhere in the middle of bum-fucked new mexico, where he undoubtedly fights off the tremors of post-traumatic stress disorder on a daily basis.

my cohort gave subway guy an obama t-shirt and asked him to maybe check out the news tonight. i don’t know if he did, don’t know if he will, but i have a sneaking suspicion we made a bit of an impact this afternoon on subway guy.

subway guy certainly made an impact on me. in a sick, sick way, subway guy stands as the quintessential american war veteran. you know, the one our government sends off to fight the imperialistic war(s) it initiates out of greed, bases on lies, and continues in perpetuity regardless of the catastrophe it is, and then drops back into society without any empathy or clemency. subway guy was a hero who volunteered to fight for his country, got wounded (mental wounds can be just as severe, if not more severe than the physical ones) and instead of a purple heart, he got a swift kick in the ass. i haven't stopped thinking about his sad saga all day... subway guy left a lasting impression with me. subway guy is my hero. i can only hope we made some kind of impact on him too.

i can and do also hope that maybe my cohort and i are helping obama make lots of impact in our cross-country campaign adventure. it’s why i embarked upon this adventure in the first place and why i enthusiastically march onward. 670 more miles to go…

i’ll check in tomorrow with more tales from the trail… oh, and if you’ve never been, phoenix is real pretty.

this entry is cross posted at daily kos.

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