Ramona on Corona… Pants on Fire

cleaning illustration

A humor series on navigating this difficult time

Today, for my Wake-Up Call newsletter (subscribe here!), I’m sharing another installment of a humor series from my friend Pam Goldman, centering on a woman named Ramona, who tries to help… in her own way.

If you’re new to this series: Here’s the previous installment. Read on.

If this isn’t a “PANTS ON FIRE!” moment I don’t know what is. I’m just beside myself and I hope you are too. HWSNBN (He Who Shall Not Be Named) has taken over my psychic energy and gastrointestinal tract, so much so that I cannot sleep through the night (and sleeping is one of my favorite pandemic activities). Obama said, “Don’t let him take away your power.” What about your sleep?!

It is 4:12 a.m. and I am in no mood to be awake. I had another challenging day, in fact, my 174th challenging day sheltering in place. And I’m not complaining. I have a nice place but what about all the folks who aren’t as fortunate? How would HWSNBN like to be out of a job, living in a 3 room apartment in the Bronx with no air conditioning, no health insurance, rent due, a wife and 3 kids to feed, clothe and home school? I don’t think HWSNBN has the bandwidth to even imagine what that must be like.

I wonder how many of you are up and out of bed, stealthily making your way downstairs or to another room, trying not to wake your snoring significant other because your sleep is fitful due to the fact that HWSNBN has ruined absolutely everything. Everything is inside out and upside down! Shouldn’t we all get together and do something to combat the bizarro world we’re living in? I can almost hear your collective cry, “Go Ramona!” Thanks for your support but that isn’t enough. Each and every one of us has the power to make a small dent. Imagine if we counted up all the small dents on November 3rd and made ONE BIG DENT?!

Grrrruumph! I wish I could cast my vote right now! Are the polls even open? Or the drop boxes in place yet? Yes I’m flying blind and out of my mind but then so is HWSNBN and he’s the President! These are the thoughts I have as I toss and turn, flip (read: strain every muscle) to change my position from the left side to the right side, then from splayed on my stomach like a platypus to flat on my back like a mummy. When I can take it no longer, I put feet to the floor and aim for my laptop in the dark.

Obviously it’s too early to phone bank. I’ve been volunteering with the optimistically-named Turnaround2020, a national voter outreach campaign. I did the half-hour webinar training when I barely knew what that meant but I managed to follow the “intuitive” online prompts. (Did they ever think maybe not everyone went to M.I.T.?)

Tech-limited as I am, after 3 attempts I found Harry Hom, the instructor, waiting for me in his little window on my screen. Harry smiled broadly and for me it was love at first pixels. He smiled, something I rarely see in humans these days, what with all the mask-wearing. And the humans whose smiles I see in public I want to punch in the face for not wearing masks.

Harry talked about ‘The Script’ and ‘The Dialer’. The Script was self-explanatory: the words I would say to potential voters. Our mandate was to reach out to “inconsistent Democrats”, those who had not always voted, were too busy or too lazy to vote, or used the flimsy excuse “Tony had the car.”

Harry said we were targeting swing states, where the margins were too close for us to be complacent. We were the troops being sent in…or should I say on(line).

I was nervous as Harry’s window shrank to the size of a postage stamp in the upper right-hand corner of my screen to make room for a tutorial on The Dialer. The name alone made me want to take shelter under my desk as I did in the 1950s to protect myself from nuclear fallout.

Turns out I would not be using my iPhone to phone bank. I would be using my laptop to receive calls. Harry said, “The Dialer will provide calls, simultaneously detailing on your screen the name and number of the person answering the call, at which point you launch into The Script. And never hang up by using your phone. Simply click the “end call” prompt on your screen.” Simply? Really?

Harry said we should speak to voters in a warm, friendly tone. On my first call I sounded like a catatonic escapee from a facility but I soon got the hang of it and performed The Script like Meryl Streep (the actress of her generation). After a slew of calls, I wondered if I might be the phone banker of my generation. Most of the callees made my role easy; they were polite and appreciative, not crabby like the sub-par male who asked if I knew I was ‘interrupting his meatloaf.’

I got a lot of wrong numbers and a lot of voicemail but we were instructed to move on quickly from them and to connect with the next live human. One young lady (who I think may have been stoned, though I myself smoked weed only once in college and did not like it) told me I woke her from a really good dream which she proceeded to share with me in detail. I tried to stifle her with The Script, saying on one breath….”Hi. My name is Ramona and I’m with Turnout2020 and we’re trying to get out the vote and did you know you can find info about voting by mail online at Mailmyvotepa.com?” She was still talking when I finished so I committed a major phone bank felony and hung up on her.

After making about 30 calls the words ‘Mailmyvote’ became a tongue twister in my mouth and I said ‘Vailvymote’ or ‘Votemymail’ but I honestly don’t think anyone noticed. I’m calling PA voters on Tuesdays and AZ voters on Thursdays until November 3rd. And I just received an alert that they need my help to turn around Texas which suddenly has “huge potential for a blue wave in 2020.” I guess I’ll have to tackle Texas too. How many states can a girl swing? It’s a lot. But I have to try. Otherwise, what will I tell my grandchildren I did when the sky was falling?

!!!@#$%^%$*&^@!!! In fact, double !!@#$#@%!!!%$#!!! How I long for the good old days. I’m talking about the 1950s. They weren’t perfect but they sure as hell weren’t as complicated as ‘the Modern Era.’ Today everything’s complicated. Everything’s overwhelming. Everything’s uncertain. Our world is layered with macro crises, each one challenging us to the max. The coronavirus, the racial injustice, the dismantling of our democratic institutions, the threat to our unique democracy. 380 million individuals already challenged to accept and tolerate each other’s races, religions, sexual orientations and ethnic foods! How much more can we take?

Are we an impossible dream? I say NO! (And you know me well enough by now to know that when I use the full force of bold, italicize, and underline and go from

12 font to 20 font…..I MEAN IT!

Last word: VOTE! (like your pants are on fire)

Pam Goldman is a writer, therapist, wife, mother and (young) grandmother. Her work has been published in The New York Times and VIVA Magazine. She is completing her first book, titled LEFT.

This originally appeared on Medium.