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The Adventures of Steve


Thursday, January 8, 2004

This episode follows exactly where the last one took off. Not knowing exactly who was in charge, I just stood out in the waiting room until someone saw me. Seconds later, I was hauling boxes of food and water outside to a van that was headed to Cedar Rapids. Then I went through Caucus training, and canvassing training, and then we went to the real building.

You see, up to that point I was only in Storm headquarters: the place where the weekend warriors are checking in and learning about phone banking and canvassing. The REAL Iowa for Dean headquarters is just half a block down on Locust Street, and this place was shaking!

There are probably 300 staff members, interns and volunteers working around the clock in Des Moines HQ, mostly on phones. They have hundreds of phones set up, and when those run out, they have boxes of cell phones too. We were just getting the orientation on the phones when two people ran up and they asked if anyone would be able to help with a spreadsheet program. Of course I raised my hand.

She then took me into the bowels of Iowa Dean HQ, and I have to say, what a mission control center. The equipment is all second-hand and set up with no aesthetic sense whatsoever, but the people there were so ON. It was like a NASA mission to have so many determined and dedicated people buzzing around, really getting stuff done.

One phone banker, Josh, was just pounding out the calls, and he had his routine down so well that he often received applause from the other callers.

I solved the spreadsheet problem in quick order and the staffer was so pleased that she brought me into a discussion on a larger database question. But when I told the Stormer staff person about this development, she protested greatly saying, "But you're one of mine!"

Ah, to be wanted.

I then walked the quiet evening streets of Des Moines to find dinner. This capital city is about as quiet as downtown Eugene at 9 p.m., although there are a few more high-rise office buildings. The Quizno's on Locust Street (the main street) was already closed, but I found refuge in a Dominos.

I then made a few "unlimited minutes" cell phone calls (I am really liking this thing) and got back to Storm HQ in time to get the ride out to "camp."

Now, when they told me that I was going to be going to the group housing "camp," I imagined some kind of conference center where we would be in a carpeted hall of some kind. Nope. We're stationed in what would be a Boy Scout campground, complete with bunk beds and a bathroom 100 feet up the snowy lawn. Luckily the heater is going full blast all night long.

Well, lights just went out so I better power down and hit the sack. Because tomorrow is going to be one big day.


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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