Mama always told me, “it’s not a mistake if you learned something” so here are some lessons (in no particular order) learned over the course of my bid for public office:
1. Most people are more concerned with being polite than with being honest.
2. People often take better care of their dogs (or their truck, boat, etc) than they appear to take of their own children.
3. There are an unusually high number of male individuals that will answer the door topless. I’m thinking of trying this the next time Jehovah’s Witnesses stop by my house.
4. If you have a bad “gut” feeling about a strange dog, you should probably trust your instincts.
5. People like the color teal. I got more compliments on my campaign colors than I probably did anything else. But apparently liking my colors did not translate into votes.
6. My real friends are still my real friends. I’ve chosen wisely in the friend department.
7. Neighborhood watch meetings are good places to eat. If you’re ever bored on a Saturday evening, check the local paper and see where the nearest one is being held. Just invite yourself and make up some story about considering buying property in the area. Or tell them you’re going to run for supervisor or something. They’ll let you eat and talk and it’s cheaper than eating out.
8. Some people have no filter. If you knock on their door to ask for a vote, they will proceed to tell you their entire life story. Some are interesting, some are not – a lot just seem lonely. And that’s sad to me.
9. People will sell their vote, cheap, from what I hear.
10. If I ever thought I could stomach selling something again, I’d pursue a career in advertising. Advertising is a freakin gold mine.
11. Handing out candy at the local hospital’s Halloween Treat Street was the most fun I had at an event I attended. Mainly because I just got to make kids smile, gave them more candy than I was supposed to, and watch them strut around proudly in their costumes. No games, no rhetoric. Candy, cuteness, and I made my mom and sister politic the trapped parents waiting in line…….wait….I think I might see where I could have lost some votes…..
12. After 32 years of driving each other crazy, my sister is still one of my most favorite people to hang out with. She made many a long campaigning day fun and full of laughter.
13. People do not like politicians OR they want to suddenly be your friend when you decide to be one for no other reason besides being nosy, spying on you for another candidate, or for whatever might benefit them (or what they’re selling) You’re thinking, “Duh, Allison.” But I never fully realized that until people started treating me differently because I suddenly was running for office. And those people suck. And they have been defriended.
14. Some people never cared about me before the campaign, encouraged me in any way during the campaign, or even acknowledged something that was a pretty big damn deal to me. I didn’t fully realize how one sided that street had always been until this was over. I’m done with those people too.
15. My husband is even more unselfish than I realized. When he had to get up at the crack of dawn to put up our tent for our last campaign event and it was 30 degrees and windy and he had worked until 10 in football concessions the night before….I knew it was true love. I knew it was true love when he gave up so many evenings and weekends and football game viewings to drive me around and be by my side. I knew it was true love when he agreed to take “family campaign photos” and he dislikes few things more than having his picture made.
16. My kid is fiercely loyal to her mother. And that is an AMAZING feeling.
17. There is a lot of poverty in my county.
18. Fourteen dachshunds in one mobile home might be a few too many. And why would you even bother trying to answer the door in that chaos?
19. Meth is a problem around here.
20. Answering the door with no shirt on is one thing, gnawing on a porkchop while answering the door with no shirt on brings you to a whole new dimension of redneckery. Especially when they say, “We don’ vote baby.”
21. If you have signs on your door that indicate you are a Christian, or a mat or a wreath or some kind of doodad that implies you are a polite and kind individual, maybe you could NOT act like you were hoping for the publishers clearing house van and got me instead when you answered the door. You had tone.
22. People will share the DUMBEST crap on their facebook feed, but ask them to share something in a local political race and they act like you just asked them to give you their firstborn or something. Again, see lesson # 1.
23. I have a lot of people that like me. In the words of Sally Field, “you really really like me!” And that’s pretty awesome.
These aren’t all the lessons of course, and some are just thoughts more than lessons, but still, insights are important too.
Probably one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned though, is simply the fact that life goes on. You may have one major focal point happening, but life doesn’t stop. And you better make sure that you’re taking care of and being present with the people you love and who really love you no matter what your current situation may be. Because life goes on. And one day it will go on without us. Nobody but a handful of people may remember this campaign when I’m gone, but I sure hope the ones that matter the most to me know that I loved them. Because that will mean I truly succeeded in life.