Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Fulcher goes 2-0, War and Peace version


Megan, my fiancé, and I traveled to Charleston, South Carolina for the Democratic primary. There, we stayed with Noel Blaha, a friend from high school, Betsy Neidert, and their two Boston Terriers. Two friends from Chicago, Kylie Gregor Whitmire and Kayleen Boldrey, both feisty teachers, joined us. We had an okay time…

Meg and I met a nice bunch on the shuttle from the parking lot to the Columbus airport. It was actually two mothers and their two eight year old daughters who were headed down to a gymnastics competition in Orlando. The mother told a pretty funny story. She said the night before her and her other daughter were watching the Travel Channel when Disney World came on the screen. Her five year old said, “That looks like a lot of fun!” Mom replied, “We’re going there tomorrow, and you’re not!” Ouch!

Arrival and check in at the airport went smoothly until, as I breezed through, Meg got stopped by security. I shook my head…Rookies!

One of the more interesting characters I met was a guy playing guitar near our gate. He was from San Luis Obispo, CA and was in Columbus for a fertilizer convention. There’s no joke here, folks; the guy was actually in town for a fertilizer convention!

Next thing we know, our flight has been delayed by a half an hour. We had a connecting flight to catch in Charlotte, would we make it?

I send out a text to a few friends that we’ve been delayed. The best responses I got were from my very Republican brother, “try chanting ‘anyone but Hillary’ for good karma” and my mom: “good lucky”. She is still figuring out how to text. This was actually a huge improvement from her previous message, “”

We had a really funny flight attendant on our way to Charlotte. His pre-flight shtick included, “If you haven’t been in an automobile since 1960, here is how to operate a seatbelt” and “In case of loss of cabin pressure, a mask will drop, please secure it over your face…after you stop screaming”. I gave him the Beckham clap for these gems. In case you don’t know what a Beckham clap is:

We made our flight in Charlotte, and before long found ourselves at Noel and Betsy’s in Charleston, baking cookies, making signs and preparing for the next day.

Noel announces at 8:32am that Obama is going to be at a deli 2 miles away for a women’s roundtable at 9:00. Kylie, who claimed the night before that she needs a full hour to get ready, shoots out of bed, wakes up Kayleen, and we’re out the door in less than 15. We arrive on time only to find out that we won’t be allowed inside. Short of dressing in drag, I was pretty sure I couldn’t get in, but it was disappointing that the girls couldn’t get in either. We decided to wait in the cold to see if we could at least catch a glimpse of the next POTUS. Before long, Obama’s bus pulls up. We have to move to even be able to see him. As he exits the bus, I start some loud, “Fired up…ready to go!” chants. As if drawn by a magnet, Obama comes right to us.

I showed him my “We make history” sign, and he shook hands with Kylie and Kayleen. Arguably the highlight of the trip, and we’re only 12 hours in.

We’re so fired up on the ride back to Noel’s that we miss our turn…twice!

Then, it’s off to Barnes and Noble for some coffee. I didn’t feel like waiting in line, so I invented visibility laps. These include walking around a store in Obama gear as everyone basically ignores you.

We arrive at the North Charleston office. The first duty is hanging the “we make history” sign. Hey, it worked in Iowa!

Kayleen, Kylie, myself and Meg

I worked the office with Meg’s cookies and the charm of Obama himself. After about half an hour, it was time for a lunch break. We ate at Panera, and, as I was headed up for a free refill, I noticed the long line and said to the guy in front of me, “gosh, things really are slower down south!” He replied, “If you don’t like it, you can get the HELL out!” I do have a way with people!

This was the general attitude towards us in SC...

After lunch, we went door to door (canvassing) in a trailer park to remind people to get out and vote. It was an interesting neighborhood!

That's a mini-Escalade!

I also enjoyed announcing, “This looks like a Kayleen special!” at the most dilapidated of trailers. I’m surprised this never got annoying!

I was so pumped up after knocking on a particular door, that I tried to jump over a trash can...

I guess it's possible to get too fired up!

Later, Noel and Betsy took us on a driving tour of the multi million dollar homes on the Charleston harbor. Then, it was on to dinner at Tommy Condon's where we had a big fight: optimism vs. pessimism. Pessimism landed some good shots early, but optimism came on late to win a split decision.

Betsy and Noel on the left

Then, it was back to Noel and Betsy’s for a game of Whoonu. Betsy was talking some serious smack early, but it was all luck. I even said, “just because you were dealt the ace of spades, it doesn’t mean you’re the best player!” I’d highly recommend this game to anyone who wants to get to know their friends better. For instance, we learned that Betsy likes camping better than French fries; we also learned that Noel is a sore loser. No wonder we’ve been buds since the 1st grade!

Back at Noel's, Meg enjoyed playing Guitar Hero.

Next, we played Sing Star, a karaoke video game. See for yourselves how fun/embarrassing this game is:

Don’t tell me we didn’t have a good time, Kayleen! I see you laughing back there!


I had an interesting way of getting my colleagues fired up and ready to go in the morning. By standing on their beds and doing this...

The morning of the primary highlighted just how different my Iowa trip was from this one. For instance, I was Jack Bauer in Iowa, doing whatever it takes to win (I even had to waterboard two potential Hillary caucus goers to get them to switch their allegiances). In SC, I had to deal with stuff like, “We can’t leave until I find my bobby pin!”

Soon, we found our way to the headquarters. We went out canvassing again; Kayleen found a bullet shell casing on the ground at the apartment complex. We kept working! I went up to a door, and the lady told me she couldn’t vote because she had to call a cab for work and had to leave shortly. I arranged a ride for her to the polls and made it so she could even be dropped off to work afterwards. I thought this was pretty neat.

Another round of canvassing found us in a pretty precarious situation. Remember the multi million dollar homes near the harbor? Well, this neighborhood was the exact opposite of that. We actually were so intimidated that we never even got out of the car. We left after seeing a very intimidating dog, which I think was some sort of pit bull/lion mix, wearing a chain reminiscent of Hercules from the old days of the WWF.

After a little rest, the girls and Noel went to the market. As they were leaving, I couldn’t help but say, “I guess you guys aren’t committed to doing everything you can to win!” As for me, I headed back to the office for some last minute volunteering. I walked around the office asking people if they were ready for a “sprint to the finish”. One lady remarked, “I’ve been here since 6 am!” I was making friends all over.

I also managed to knock over a mop bucket full of water while taking the trash out. Mopping up the water was easy, but I needed a place to put the excess water. Luckily, the spill was right by the door, but how would I prop it open?

It was this type of do whatever it takes attitude that led to a 28 point win!

They put me on the phones for some last minute persuasion. I made about 70 calls and maybe talked to 7 people. I swear people were deliberately disconnecting their phones to keep from having to speak to me. I finally got a hold of one voter who wanted to know what religion Obama was. I told him he was a Christian, and the man said that was enough for him, and that he would vote for him.

Another staged phone pic

At 7 o’clock when the polls closed, CNN projected Obama as the winner. I went back into the office to commence celebrations, but was told to keep it kind of hush hush. I’m still not sure why.

Then, it was off to the victory party. South End Brewery was jam packed with supporters. I led a few “fired up…ready to go!” cheers, and we chanted and cheered as Obama gave his victory speech. I sent out a text that said, “Fulcher goes 2-0”, and my favorite response back was from Samir of the Iowa City office. He wrote, “Fulcher and Hope: 2. Hillary: 0”.

We got lost for about the tenth time on the way home.


Sadly, we had to leave on Sunday morning. There was a man in front of us in the line to check in at the airport that was two pounds over the 50 lb limit for his checked baggage. I almost told him about Noel Blaha wearing 7 layers of clothing home from Germany.

I must have fit some sort of profile (IRA member?), because, right before we boarded, I was singled out for an extra pat down.

A layover in Washington, DC involved something I hadn’t had in years…fast food. It was exactly as I remembered it…lukewarm, not much taste, and I couldn’t stop eating it.

It was sad to leave behind another historic and great trip. A text from Michelle really brought my focus back, it read, “can you be in 22 states all in one day?”

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1. What type of intsrument was the guy at the airport playing?

2. Who won the fight at dinner, optimism or pessimism?

3. What did I eat in DC that I hadn't had in years?

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