Sidewalks of democracy

In case you hadn't noticed or live outside of Canada, we're one week away from a federal election. Here are some things I observed (or thought about) whilst distributing campaign pamphlets for the local Liberal Party candidate for Parliament:
  • In an east-west direction I covered 12 long blocks on both sides and eight more on one side only (the boundaries of the area). North-south I covered eight somewhat shorter blocks on both sides, four shorter blocks on one side only, and four shorter blocks on one side that was pretty much all commercial buildings or apartment blocks. That's 32 long blocks (each side) and 20 shorter blocks (plus four). I walked for close to five hours over two afternoons. This afternoon it was raining lightly.
  • There is a variety of houses in that neighbourhood. Judging by the houses, people in the neighbourhood are generally well off or at least solidly middle class. Two small houses are designated heritage houses, just as ours is. Several had plaques showing the name of the house (usually the name of the first owner) and when it was built.
  • A few lots had new construction underway (the old house having been demolished). A few houses were undergoing renovation.
  • Some houses are well set back from the street. Some houses have quite a few stairs to climb. All of that adds to the distance. And if the city ever allows laneway housing, which it very well might, this job would get even harder.
  • If a gate was closed, I closed it behind me when I entered and when I left. You don't want to let out a dog or something (although I didn't see any). If a gate was open, I left it that way. Gates can be latched in a wide variety of ways.
  • I said hi to several kitties and gave skritches to a couple of friendly ones.
  • I saw quite a few lovely gardens and more water features (recirculating, I hope) than I expected. One was quite extensive, forming almost a mote in front of the house (no drawbridge). Some people had vegetables growing in their front yards, which is cool.
  • I saw evidence of chafer beetles. Chafers destroy the roots of turf grass, especially when the grass is growing in not enough topsoil (most often the case, because who has six to eight inches of topsoil?). Then raccoons, crows, and other critters that consider chafer beetles to be a tasty high-protein snack rip up the weakened lawn to get at the beetles, leaving it quite a mess. Many people replace their lawns with other plants, which is not a bad thing.
  • Halloween is only a few weeks away. Some people really love Halloween. I shook hands with a skeleton.
  • I saw maybe a dozen or 15 signs for the New Democratic Party candidate. I saw at least half as many for the Liberal Party candidate, which is more than I expected. I saw one sign for the Conservative Party candidate and none for the Green Party candidate. I left pamphlets at all of those houses. I figured the Liberal sign people might want to see the pamphlet, and the NDP and Conservative sign people might have a sign but are considering voting differently. It's a secret ballot, after all.
  • I already had plenty of respect for Canadian posties but even more now. Unlike the United States, we seem not to have any kind of standard configuration for mail delivery. Most people have regular boxes outside their door, thankfully. Some use rural mailboxes, also easy to use. Some have mail slots. Some of those mail slots are ancient. Several times I had to fold the pamphlet so it would fit through the slot. And some people seem to have no discernable way to receive mail. Maybe they have postal boxes?
  • Don't give up too easily on finding a mailbox. Sometimes it's hidden or camouflaged or just in an unexpected place.
  • Some people with mailboxes seem to pay little attention to their mail.
  • Some people have storm doors. I preferred to use the mail slot in the inside door so as not to just dump a leaflet on their doorstep, but some people lock their storm doors.
  • Some people not only don't want mail. Apparently they don't want visitors at all.There was one gate with a keypad. Another had no keypad but I couldn't find any way to open the gate.
  • Judging by path condition, debris, and overgrowth, some people rarely if ever use their front entrances.
  • Quite a few houses had sandals or slippers on the front porch.
  • I am not an agent, peddler, or salesman. I am a campaign volunteer.
  • The few people I spoke with were friendly. One person walking on the sidewalk even asked me for a leaflet, which I gave to him. Some people thanked me! I felt a little funny saying "you're welcome" when it's really me who's grateful they are accepting a political pamphlet. I seriously expected at least some hostility, but there was none.
  • A few houses had pretty good watchdogs. Barking and yapping to beat the band! I should have apologized to that one guy who came to the door after I left, His dogs got all riled up. I didn't mean to cause that!
  • The most popular monitored alarm brand in that neighbourhood is AlarmForce.
  • A couple of large, barking dogs that sound potentially dangerous are probably at least as good if not better than any alarm system. And you can tell it's not fake because you can here the claws on their giant paws on the floor. I'm glad I wasn't door-knocking!
  • I would suck at door-knocking, just as I was never any good at doing sales things when I was a kid. I'm good at chatting with strangers, but I don't want to walk up to their front door to do it. It feels so intrusive. I would make a terrible Jehovah's Witness! Or political candidate, I suppose.
  • I'm glad someone wants to run for office. Me, I'll just walk. Democracy is hard and can wear out your shoes and make your legs sore, but it's important. I always vote, but I was glad to be able to do a little more.

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