"Hi, my name is Frankenstein Hyde," I said to the head guru at the local Republican Party headquarters.
"That's a weird name," he said.
"Yeah, I was an ugly baby. My Grandpa just got home from Vietnam and he was in no mood to have a kid. And being that I was his kid's kid made it much worse. Dad split town with Mom and they joined a circus. They're carneys. Anyhow, Grandpa didn't want me raised by nuns or wolves, so him and grandma took me in."
The guy just looked at me with piercing eyes. I got a little nervous and said, "Grand Daddy was in an Army division that saw some heavy action. Post Traumatic Stress was his thing back then. Now he just drinks with the boys at the VFW and watches NFL and MLB games.
"Really?" he said, uninterested, as he looked over a sheet with some writing scribbled all over it. He had a toothpick dangling from the corner of his mouth and on his head was perched a red hat that had TOP DAWG screaming in bold white letters. He looked like he was of college age. Sort of a big guy. Muscular. Definitely a weight lifter. His drug of choice? Steroids, I presumed.
"Yeah, Grand Daddy named me. His name was Godzilla Hyde. He was ugly, too - not only as a baby, but throughout his life."
"You don't say," Top Dawg muttered, shuffling around his papers.
"I'm sort'a proud of the name now," I said.
"So you're here to phone bank for us, right?" he said.
"I guess so. Is there any money in it?"
He laughed. "No, not really. Actually, there's none. We call it phone banking because it has a nice ring to it. It sounds rich, just like Donald Trump. All you do is make cold calls to people you don't know and probably never will know. Most of them will hang up on you and those that don't answer aren't home. Or at least they see a funny cell phone number on their caller ID and don't answer. I guess they're smart. They screen their calls."
"You're lucky if you get three live people off that list of 200."
He grabbed a packet from inside his desk and said, "Just promise me one thing. You'll try to be nice, okay?"
"I'm always nice, Mr. Top Dawg."
He handed me a cell phone and a list with the more than 200 names on it with cell or landline phone numbers for each individual. In a corner of the sheet it said Canvass, Voter Registration, and Phone Banking. Mr. Top Dawg told me to try to sucker the callers on the list to do at least one of these things for Donald Trump.
So I made my first call. "Hello," I said, "This is Frankenstein Hyde and I'm with the Donald Trump Campaign. I want you to vote for Donald Trump."
"What's that name again?" a crooning old woman's voice crackled.
"No, that other name. Frankincense, or whatever it was."
"Oh, Frankenstein Hyde. That's me."
"It's none of your fucking business who I'm voting for, Frankincense, and I'm voting for that woman, whatever the hell her name is - she's nice and she doesn't call women that terrible 'C' word, like that Sylvester Frump monster." - Wow. I couldn't believe this harangue was coming from the mouth of what seemed to be a little old lady.
"You listen to me, sonny boy, I was a stripper for sixty years or so and I know a thing or two about people. And I can spot a sleazebag from three cities away. And that Forrest Gump has no business being in politics."
Then she hung up on me.
I made three more calls and they were all hang ups after I introduced myself as Frankenstein Hyde. Again, more trouble with my christened name, I assumed. Then I got hold of a guy - he sounded like he was confident enough, but a bit hillbillyized - and he said he liked Donald Trump and wouldn't mind having a hot dog with him sometime. I told him that he must have been misinformed - "The Donald," I snipped. "Hasn't ever eaten a freaking hot dog in his life. He only eats T-bone steaks and filet mignon sandwiches. And I read in some rather obscure paper-of-records that he likes them charred so badly that they probably taste like charcoal." - Well, the guy slammed the phone in my ear so hard that I heard a ricochet.
I took a break. Enough's enough, I said to myself, and I wasn't getting paid a dime for all this abuse. Tell you the truth, I don't even know why I volunteered for this thing. I have every intention of voting for Hillary Clinton come November. I'm still feeling The Bern, though, and I must admit, I voted for Bernie Sanders in the Democratic Primary. So in the breakroom out back, I snagged some miniature Snickers bars, a handful of Lucky Charms cereal, some cheesy puffed popcorn, a half a donut and a bottle of water. There were Styrofoam boxes with partitions and I neatly placed all these food items in separate little spaces. All told, I carried three of the large boxes back to the main room. Just to the back of the desk where I was stationed, a baseball bat was propped up in a corner of the room.
I returned to the desk where my phone and phone list sat like orphaned goats. I shoved a handful of Lucky Charms in my mouth and made another call. On the first ring, some young woman answered. I coughed. The dry cereal got caught in my throat and I was left speechless, but I was hacking all over the room. I had to rise from my chair, I was coughing so hard.
"Randy, if this is your idea of a fucking joke, I'm calling the cops and filing another harassment charge on your sorry ass!" the woman screamed. "The last time you came over here, you threw a brick through the picture window in my living room, you got drunk on MY BEER, then you set the back patio on fire with that gasoline I use for my lawn mower! You are a total loser, Randy! My homeowner's insurance will pay for all the damage you did to the house, thank you Flo, oh thank you Lady In White, but I want that ten bucks for that beer you guzzled and another ten for the gas you used to terrorize my place. You're an asshole!"
My coughing fit subsided after I took a swig off the water bottle, so I said, "No, wait, this is Frankenstein Hyde- " But the phone was slammed down right when I said my surname.
Disgusted, I dialed another number. When I told a soft voice on the receiving end that I was a phone banker for the Donald Trump campaign, she said, "Yes, yes, yes. I was a beauty pageant contestant for 'The Donald's' Miss Kuiper Belt Competition a few years ago. It's not one of the biggies, but it holds some air. Anyhow, while I was putting on my panties in the backroom, 'The Donald' ran in and put his hand over my thingamajig. I wanted to sue him, but I figured, who'd ever believe such a thing?"
"I think I understand."
"And that's not all. One day, I was walking around downtown Manhattan and I saw this blur heading my direction. It was almost paranormal. And then all of a sudden, 'The Donald' appeared right in front of me and he reached down there, well, you know, and grabbed my thingamajig again. Do you think this is normal behavior?"
"Well, I'm supposed to be campaigning for Donald Trump and all, but I'd say it might have been 'normal' back in the caveman days. With the Neanderthals and all, you know…"
She started crying and hung up.
So I made another call to an old man who said he couldn't talk - he said he had bats flying around in his house and that "I've gotta catch them critters before they bite me and my dog Elmo." Then there were five calls that rang into answering machines. The phone list Top Dawg handed me said specifically not to leave messages. Just mark them off as "Not Home" and move on to the next number. At the end of each shift, these unanswered calls were logged into new sheets and the bright hopefuls the next day might reach these folks at home, the instructions also read.
Then I called some guy who said he was a banker who ran a large commercial bank in town. I told him I was doing some phone banking for Donald Trump and he just laughed. "So you actually think that I'm going to buy that line?" he said. "Donald Trump's a sly old lizard, he'd never let some guy name Frankenstein Hyde near his financials. What do you really want? Are you that prince from Nigeria who sent me an email the other day telling me I had coming my way twenty million buckaroos if I'd only pay their company $450 with a credit card for the courier fee?"
"No, it's not like that at all," I tried to explain, but he hung up on me.
The next call, I got connected to some sweet sounding voice. She seemed very interested in my flow and I felt that I was going to get her to at least make some phone calls for the campaign. But things really headed south when she said, "Listen, honey, for seventy five smackers, I'll put a shine on that gizmo of yours that will take a whole gallon of E-Z Strip Paint Eraser to wipe away."
And for once, I slammed the cell phone down. Top Dog rose from his desk across the room and walked over to mine with a very concerned look on his face. Shaking his head, he placed both hands on top of my desk and said, "Did the Hillary Clinton people send you over here to sabotage our campaign?"
"No! Really, I'm just having some bad luck!"
"You're a spy, aren't you?" he said.
"No, I'm really trying my hardest. This phone banking is a tough sell."
"You get out of here and you get out of here now!"
He started walking to the corner of the room towards that baseball bat. An epiphany hit me like the bat itself: Now I knew what that thing was for; so I ran out the door and down the street, so upset and terrified that I forgot to get into my car.
I ran and ran like a thief until I became so tired that I took a seat on the stoop of a vacant and defunct Soul Food store. So I sat fifteen blocks away until midnight, thinking that at least by then, the Trump Campaign headquarters would be closed.
Around 1 a.m., I tiptoed back to that dastardly place and fired up my Suburu and flew down the street.