Road Hard, Put Away Wet

Virtually every little boy and girl (and, in the spirit of inclusiveness, every gender-fluid child) in our country dreams of growing up and becoming President one day. I have a message for the youngsters of our nation: it can happen for you — because it happened to me.

Last Saturday, I was elected President. Granted, it was as the head of our local road association, but still… The title is “President” and I accepted the honor with grace and humility. That morning we held our annual association meeting; the vote in favor of my candidacy was unanimous. I suspect this is less a reflection of my popularity among my neighbors and more that no one else was remotely interested in the job. Nonetheless, it will make a nice accomplishment for my future biographer to highlight.

A neighbor down the street served as President for the last two years, but this year decided she was fed up had other interests to pursue and so declined another term in office. She called me a few weeks ago to ask if I would consider running for the job (I believe the actual request was: “Are you willing to do it? Because I sure as shit can’t be bothered anymore.”); if so, she would place my name in nomination. As flattered as I was, I still approached the opportunity with a level head and had a few questions for her:

  • How much is the presidential stipend?
  • Why is there no presidential stipend?
  • Does the President have check-signing authority?
  • Have the association’s accounts ever been audited?

Once I felt I had a grasp of the position’s parameters, I went about assembling my campaign team and preparing a press release announcing my candidacy. Much to my surprise, the so-called Mainstream Media had zero interest in covering the news. No reporters attended the rally I staged in my backyard, which meant I’d thrown two packs of hot dogs on the grill for naught. Come to think of it, I don’t recall seeing any of my neighbors there, either. Our local ad-supported weekly publication said for a small fee they’d run a short write-up, so I emailed them the release. I was excited when I saw the article in print but was very disappointed when both my first and last names were misspelled. I contacted the editor, who told me that proofing cost extra. Sigh… Well, this was not a disaster on the level of Muskie bursting into tears back in ’72 (which seems so quaint compared to what we witnessed in 2016, yes?), so I shook up the team (which, so far, was only my wife and myself — and one of us had to go. Sorry, honey…) and pressed on.

I won’t draw any comparisons between the 2016 campaign and my own, with this exception — say what you want about the two major candidates and the election outcome, but regardless of party affiliation many folks say one flaw in Hillary’s effort was that she came across as distant and remote, not embracing the kind of hands-on “retail politics” her husband Bill was famous for. I did not want to repeat that mistake, so I launched a walking tour to make the acquaintance of as many of my potential constituents as possible. There are only twenty houses on our road, and half of them aren’t owner-occupied year-round, but that did not deter me from knocking on every door in an effort to hear from the community and present my case. I didn’t take it personally when a few folks slammed their doors in my face, or when I clearly saw people through the screen sitting in their living rooms yet resolutely ignoring my “Hello!” — but the third time someone sicced their dog on me, I decided my time was better spent disseminating my platform via social media.

Using several popular online platforms, I got an honest, unfiltered message out to my future subjects neighbors. They weren’t much for the Twitter, but I did get quite a few comments in response to my Facebook posts. However, they were mostly links to cat videos or pictures of their grandchildren. A couple of them were videos of their grandchildren playing with cats.

I woke up early the morning of the association meeting and rehearsed my stump speech. As an effort to get out the vote, I brought travel-sized bottles of Maalox and Kaopectate to distribute. But, as I mentioned above, nearly all the preparation was rendered unnecessary since no opponent emerged to challenge me. Nonetheless, I was proud of the campaign I’d run: focused on the issues (well, just the one issue — overseeing maintenance of the road), no negative messaging (instead of accusing anyone of exceeding the posted 15 MPH speed limit, I thanked everyone who honored the voluntary 8:30 PM curfew), with appeal to a broad demographic, which in this case was men and women, mostly retired, ages 60 to 85.

Now that the election is behind me — the focus is on a future of leading with clear vision and a steady hand. Both of which will be necessary since I’ve just learned the Association’s finances are in the red, so apparently I’m expected to use my snow blower to clear everyone’s driveway this winter and also operate a grader to re-level the road once we get through next spring’s mud season.  My advice to those dreaming youngsters? Take your time, do your research, and make sure you understand the span of responsibilities you’ll be expected to embrace. It would be devastating, in response to your decision to chase elective office, to have people accuse you of Russian into it.

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2 thoughts on “Road Hard, Put Away Wet”

  1. Look at it this way. Because nobody else wants your job, you are the one and only person holding the community together — even though it looks like they don’t particularly care if they are held together or not.

    Oh well! At least your neighbors will have their driveways ploughed this winter.

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