For Election Day, I’ve decided to tell the tale of my first job – as a telemarketer at the Republican National Committee in Washington, D.C. And yes, it’s as bad as you’re probably imagining.
Before I start my story, I’m going to tell you that I am neither a Republican nor a Democrat. I am solidly an independent, voting on an issue-by-issue basis. In high school, however, I was a member of my school’s Teenage Republican Club. We volunteered for various Republican candidates in Northern Virginia, canvassing, holding signs at rallies, going to debates, stuffing envelopes, etc. It was exciting for me to get to meet and talk with our politicians, and I thought that I might one day want to hold a local office and serve my community.
Through the Teenage Republicans, I heard about a summer job at the Republican National Committee (RNC) in Washington, D.C. I had never worked before (other than mowing lawns and babysitting), and it sounded exciting to commute into the city every day. So I contacted the RNC and got an interview. I guess they were desperate for employees because they hired me. They told me what the job would be, how to get a work permit (I was under 18), and that I would be PAID for a day of training.
On training day, I showed up with my work permit and all my paperwork in order. I was told that I would be given lists of people who had donated to the RNC in the past, and my job was to try to get them to donate again. The entire lesson was, “Read the script. Don’t say anything that isn’t on the script. The script has been thoroughly tested and is guaranteed to work.” Sounded easy enough…
On my first day, I showed up bright and early with my brown paper bag lunch, dressed professionally, excited to have a real job. I was handed the script, “Do-Nothing Democrats.” I didn’t like this. And I quickly learned that the people I was calling didn’t like it either. I struggled to make it through the morning, trying to read the script to people I thought I would be eager to donate. What a naive child I was! I don’t think I made it all the way through the script even once. After having people hang up on me and yell at me so many times, I was stumbling and stuttering through the words. It was just getting worse and worse. What a relief when it was finally lunchtime!
At lunch, I sat outside, trying to hold myself together. I’m more than a little sensitive, and I was trembling inside (if not also outside). One of the other telemarketers asked me how my first day was going, and I told her it was awful. I didn’t know how she could do this job day after day.
Somehow I never made it back into the building after lunch. Instead, I headed straight to the Metro station. Not wanting my dad to know of my failure, I decided not to go home right away. I rode the Metro’s Orange Line back and forth all afternoon, sobbing. I was careful to arrive home at the expected time, so I wouldn’t have to face my dad’s questions right away.
There were three big lessons from that day: 1. I’m definitely not cut out for politics in any shape or form. 2. It would behoove me to select my future jobs more carefully. 3. There was no need to avoid my dad for half a day; he completely understood why I didn’t stick around! It might have felt traumatic at the time, but I can look back and laugh now about taking a job that I was so thoroughly unsuited for!