I am back from yet another mid-western adventure. Honestly, I don't know why more people don't canvass with job perks like extended stays in Michigan, Indiana, and Ohio. Actually, Ohio was quite fun, as I will discuss, but I can not refer to the organization I was working with by name anymore because they get Google alerts every time I write about them and then forward my posts in angry emails to Eric. Oops. It was tempting to write posts about random, unrelated things and then insert their name into them, but luckily, my more mature half prevailed.
Columbus, Ohio is the home of Ohio State (The). On the plus side, it is a rocking college town. On the minus side, it is home of the Buckeyes. A buckeye is a poisonous berry. At first, my Jersey friends and I agreed that that is a horrible mascot because other mascots can eat it, but then we realized that the buckeye destroys its enemies from the inside, killing as it is devoured. Creepy. Would a Wolverine be able to resist the shiny temptation to eat a buckeye? If a Scarlet Knight stabs a buckeye, is the buckeye dead? Columbus also sells peanut-butter chocolate buckeyes which I assumed were safe until I read about the peanut-butter recall. Damn you Buckeyes!!
Columbus is also home to Ohio residents (surprisingly!). They are easily recognized by the dazzling variety of Ohio State gear that they can wear at one time. Whether canvassing Columbus proper, the new sprawling suburbs, or the luxury golf resorts, everyone comes to their door displaying their Ohio State (The) pride in the form of crocs, polo shirts, and parachute pants.
New Jersey transplants living in Ohio are easy to recognize as well because they have vanity license plates like JRZY SHR and Giants SuperBowl stickers. (Note: Vanity license plates must be free in Ohio because nearly every other car sports them.) I actually found a cat that had been adopted in Montclair by striking up a conversation about how awesome the Giants are. East coasters in the midwest can also be identified by the blank stares they offer when you ask them how they are doing. In Ohio, "how ya doin" is an actual question requiring an actual answer. Who has time for that?
One refreshing aspect of Ohio is the amount of trust. In New Jersey, photo IDs and permits, while not legally required, are critical for canvassing. Most Jersey folk will check through their peep hole after dark before opening their door, if they open it at all. In Ohio, every door was widely thrown open and legitimacy was never questioned. On the other hand, schools and libraries are adorned with signs politely noting that these are "Weapon-Free Zones". It's easy to be friendly to strangers when you have the option of shooting them.
I got to experience the easy-going midwest attitude towards security early on a Monday morning. At 7:30am, a stranger entered the apartment where I was staying. Five of us were sleeping upstairs. (They have upstairs and downstairs in the apartments in Ohio!) My first thought was, "This must be the cable guy," but the cable guy wasn't due until Wednesday, and they don't enter locked apartments before 8am. Then the intruder announced loudly, "I'M NOT A ROBBER!" Obviously, we were being robbed. My fellow Jersey cross-train was too deeply asleep to notice, so I listened for any signs of response from my midwestern hosts. Nothing. Meanwhile, the stranger in the living room was having a loud conversation with himself about how he didn't want to scare us and how he was not, still, a robber.
Stranger: "I'M NOT A ROBBER! Just going into your basement!"
KPd.: (reaches for cell phone to call police)
Stranger: "Your neighbor has eight inches of water in her basement! Isn't that crazy?!"
Our host Dylan (from other bedroom): "That's crazy."
Stranger: "I KNOW!"
After much stomping around, the stranger left. The folks from Indiana and Ohio never stirred.
Later that morning, an older man in a hunting cap walked right into the apartment a second time where four very surprised young women were making lunch.
Stranger: "Any of y'all use tampons?!"
Dawn: "Well, there are four ladies staying here. I suppose that it's possible."
Stranger: "THAT IS SO REFRESHING!"
Stranger: "I work in the ladies' dorms at Ohio State, and they will never admit to flushing a tampon. You all are so honest. By the way, you got a bit of sewage in your basement. Think we fixed the clog though. Anyway, have a good day!"
KPd.: Do we call the police now?
In conclusion, Columbus, Ohio is a fun place. We should all go visit Emily there just for fun. There's a dance club there with an 80s night that rivals anything I ever saw in the city only with cheaper drinks and no cover charge. There are vegetarian restaurants and gourmet ice cream shops. There's a two dollar movie theater with no heat. There are borderline-crazy plumbers who break into your apartment at sunrise. Just don't eat any buckeyes.