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The Adventures of Steve

Episode 30: Kelly---

Friday, June 18, 2004


If you are heartless and unconcerned about the injustice done to an ordinary underpaid American citizen, then delete this message now and you'll be done with me. I will not bother you further.

My name is Steve Ransom. I have dedicated myself this year to the eradication of the neoconservative agenda. Last December, I quit my job and left my home of 14 years to help Howard Dean's campaign in Iowa. I then established myself in Columbus, Ohio to be part of the most important battleground in this election year. Most recently, I applied to be a field organizer with your organization. And this is where this tragedy of errors begins.

Beginning in March, I began contacting the your office regarding the field organizer positions and the field organizer training. I was told that the registration deadline for the prerequisite four-day workshop would precede any decision regarding the positions, so it was a crap shoot as to whether the $300 investment would pay off in a job or not. I decided to take the gamble. The training sounded like useful information as it was, and I looked forward to visiting D.C. for the first time.

On April 15, I sent an e-mail that included a cover letter, an application, and my resume. On May 3, I called your office and was patched to Jeremy, who said that he had started interviews, but was not close to making any decisions. I interviewed with him the next day, and he requested that I check back the next week. Gambling again, I gave my 30-day notice that day.

On May 11, I called Jeremy for an update and was sent to voicemail. I left messages every subsequent afternoon with no return calls. On May 19, I sent an e-mail to Jeremy asking for an update and he called me the next morning. He informed me that he had actually lost my application but was interested in hiring me because of my perseverance.

I purchased my first car on June 3, drove that day to Washington D.C. and began the training session. Let me tell you that the training was excellent, extremely well-organized, with superb speakers and a great hands-on project. My compliments end there.

On Monday, June 7, Jeremy announced that I would be sent to Maine. He said it was a last minute deal, which is why we hadn't heard of it up to that point. That afternoon, he met with several groups regarding their assignments. He took so long to get to us that three members of the Maine assignment team left long before he got to us. If only I had left too!

When he talked to us, it was a woman from Rhode Island named Lauren and I left. He informed us that he didn't have any information, that we needed to talk to Chris later that week. He said that the Maine people were not needing us until July 1. I was challenged by this because this was the first I heard about a starting date switch, as I had ended my lease and had nowhere to go for three weeks. I asked Jeremy if we could start on June 15, and he said "yes." Lauren asked if we would get paid for the two weeks between June 15 and July 1 and he said, not unless you're there working. I told him that I planned to camp out for a few days, then make my way to Maine for the June 15 start date. He did not at that time say, "no, don't go to Maine."

So I have established that Jeremy was under the impression that we could start June 15. I am certain that Lauren would back me up on that.

I visited your office on Wednesday, June 9 and spoke with Chris, Jeremy's replacement. Chris said that he did not have any information for us and wouldn't until late Friday afternoon. I told him that I would camp in West Virginia for a few days and then make my way up to Maine and be there on Tuesday. He did not say, "no, don't go to Maine." Patient and flexible, I left D.C. and camped in the Appalachians for two days.

On Saturday, June 12, I checked my voice mail and found nothing from Chris. I called both his office phone and his cell phone on Saturday and Sunday and left messages.

On Monday, June 14, I received a call from Emily, saying that she did not have my phone number. I found this odd but gave her my number. She said that because she did not have my phone number, she had been unable to tell me that there would be no job in Maine until July 1. In other words, the day before I was supposed to drive to Maine, I was informed by someone who lied about not having my phone number to not go to Maine. Patiently, I explained my situation and asked if I could start June 15 since I was in Maine already. She said she would look into it and call me back. She didn't.

On Tuesday, June 15, I called and spoke with Angela. Although she was very polite, Angela made it clear that she thought I was lying about what Jeremy had said. "Everyone else I've talked to knew about the July 1 start date," she said, apparently blaming me for hearing Jeremy wrong. She did not have any information about who my contact in Maine was supposed to be and she suspected the only person who knew was you, Kelly, apparently in Philadelphia and unreachable. Angela said that she would look into finding a place for me to stay and would call me back that night. She did not.

Feeling like I was on my own, I looked up and called the number for the Maine Democratic Party. I talked to Amy, explained that it looked like I was on my own for two weeks, and offered to volunteer for them in exchange for a place to stay until I could start my work with your organization on July 1. She connected me with Ben, director of the state senate caucus, who put me up in his place and I helped him out on his photo shoots the next day.

On Wednesday afternoon, I received a message from Angela saying that she had found a place for me to stay in Vermont. I talked to Jill in Vermont, who had volunteered to house me, and she said that they had some things they could put me on before I began my Maine assignment. I explained that I was already in Maine, already had a place to stay, and unless I had orders (as an employee) from D.C. to go to Vermont, it made more sense to stay where I was. She agreed.

Yesterday, June 17, I arrived in Augusta and talked with Toby, the house caucus director. I talked to Angela and asked if the Vermont assignment was to be a paid or volunteer assignment, and she said volunteer. I told her if that's the case, I'll just stay here in Maine and wait for my July 1 assignment and just volunteer with Toby if I had to. I asked if she could get me on the payroll now, she immediately sent me to the voice mail of Toni. I also sent an e-mail to you last night, seeking information as to whether I had positioned myself correctly or not.

Today, June 18, I called Toni to find out about that and I got the shock of my life. Not only would I be volunteer until July 1, I had been canned. Toni, in an incredibly rude fashion, told me that I had caused her hours of grief and frustration, that I had set off a firestorm of problems for her. She called me a "loose cannon" and "completely unprofessional." She refused to listen to the details of this misadventure and tried to get off the phone as soon as possible. Not caring that her organization had stranded me in Maine with only a car and a month of food money left, she made it clear that I was the worst possible sort of person she wanted to deal with. She said that she had talked to you and that you were in agreement. She made it clear she thought I was a liar.

To say that this leaves a bad taste in my mouth is an understatement. I have been extremely patient and flexible during this entire fiasco. I know how campaigns work, I know that information shifts and changes and we need to be agile. While it has been frustrating to not know when I was going to know anything, I kept checking in and waiting it out. When I could wait no longer (hotels were costing me too much), I called a group who I considered on our side and made arrangements that I thought were acceptable to all. I took care of myself when you guys failed on your promises. I knew that things would work out, and the people here in Maine have been happy to have me. We were making some great plans when the rug was pulled out from under me, and hopefully I'll be able to work with them in some different capacity.

Of course I don't want the job now. I don't even want an apology. Your organization disgusts me and I regret ever trying to be connected to it. I can't help but notice that everybody was managing acceptably until I asked about money: that tells me something about how D.C. works. It's politics as usual and social and economic justice be damned, it's all about the money.

If you've made it this far, I'm surprised. If so, then I will be so bold as to encourage you to consider how your mission should best be represented in your organization. I would encourage you do more to bring your field program up to a decent standard. I would encourage you to examine why so many of your people have left in the past few weeks. I would encourage you to get things on paper. (Actually, that's for me. Don't worry, I cannot and will not hire a lawyer. It's not worth it.)

I expect no response, so please don't shock me twice in the same day. I can only hope you can institute some higher standards amongst your programs and your staff. To be treated the way I have been is hideous. I hope that nobody else gets the same as I have from your organization, but I fear that that prayer may have come too late.

Good luck in your endeavors, and good bye---

---Steve Ransom
Augusta, Maine
re-defeat Bush in 04! He's the real enemy, not me! The bastard.

Note: I have edited this letter for this Web site to remove clear references to the organization and people involved. I never intended this to be a public rant but several people have found it via Google and the names involved.


All of the Adventures of Steve

   Episode 1: In which Steve leaves Eugene and arrives in Rancho Cordova.
   Episode 2: In which Steve visits the Jelly Belly factory and gets a haircut.
   Episode 3: In which Steve gets a cold, a big box, and a seat on a train.
   Episode 4: In which Steve receives shiny new toys and loyal old friends.
   Episode 5: In which Steve departs for Iowa and rants a bit about why.
   Episode 6: In which Steve takes a trip to Des Moines.
   Episode 7: In which Steve gets really involved.
   Episode 8: In which Steve starts hobnobbing but is haunted by Arne Baker.
   Episode 9: In which Steve becomes a groupie and is informed that we all have love in our hearts.
   Episode 10: In which Steve becomes a media whore.
   Episode 11: In which Steve takes on Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine and Michigan.
   Episode 12: In which Steve is pitted against Fort Dodge, Iowa and seven vans of unruly Texans.
   Episode 13: In which Steve learns that all his hard work wasn't enough to put the candidate back together again.
   Episode 14: In which Steve does nothing.
   Episode 15: In which Steve reaches a decision and attempts to get virtually hired.
   Episode 16: In which we thank the good doctor for all he did.
   Episode 17: In which Steve suits up for a new life in the Cap City!
   Episode 18: In which Steve starts to realize he’s not in Eugene anymore.
   Episode 19: In which Steve switches from job seeking to home seeking.
   Episode 20: In which Steve starts to learn some things via the error side of trial and error.
   Episode 21: In which Steve experiences his first blizzard.
   Episode 22: In which Steve contemplates his next move.
   Episode 23: In which Steve prepares to switch gears... again.
   Episode 24: In which Steve spends a week in a hotel with four thousand teenagers and then gives his 30-day notice.
   Episode 25: In which Steve reminisces about his 10 weeks in Columbus while waiting in the wings.
   Episode 26: In which the squeaky wheel gets the grease.
   Episode 27: In which Steve changes everything.
   Episode 28: In which Steve finds Brood X, gets a teeny crush on a fellow trainee and learns where he's going, approximately.
   Episode 29: In which Steve starts to see how politics really works.
   Episode 30: In which Steve writes a letter to Kelly, executive director of the group that fired me.
   Episode 31: In which Steve spends a tentative week commuting to work in Maine.
   Episode 32: In which Steve learns he's just one piece on the board.
   Episode 33: In which Steve settles in for three months of intense campaigning.
   Episode 34: In which Steve is deep into the final countdown.
   Episode 35: In which Maine wins, the nation loses and Steve heads home.
   Episode 36: In which Steve doesn’t do much more than comb the classifieds and update his Web site.
   Episode 37: In which Steve slips into a normal life.

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