Sunday, December 4, 2011

Tips from the Trenches

Here are a list of random tips gathered from recall volunteers. Some are more serious than others. Feel free to adopt the more useful ones for yourself.

• Dress in layers.
• Mom was right: wear a hat! Bomber hats are indeed the bomb.
• Invest in hand-warmers.
• Snow pants aren't just for snow: they're great against wind, rain, and plain cold.
• Wear mittens over stretch-gloves. The mittens offer greater warmth, but when you have to remove them for dexterity, your fingers won't be bare.
• Drink warm fluids before going out, but not so many that you have to pee right away.
• If you're not going to be in a densely crowded area, consider a hot meal rich in legumes for time-delayed release of heat. (Beans, beans, the musical fruit....)
• To increase circulation while you're waiting, play air-piano with your fingers and wiggle your toes.
• If you start to shiver, it's time to go in and warm up. No, don't stay out for just five minutes longer. You're done.

• Gel pens don't freeze.
• Ironing boards make great instant signing stations. Can place on a public sidewalk without blocking traffic. You can also attach signs to it.
• Plastic storage clipboards allow you to stash signed petitions safely as they are completed. You can also store extra pens inside.
• Always carry extra pens.
• If you find yourself out with normal ball-point pens in freezing weather, you can store them inside your coat so they stay warm, swapping out a new one as the one in use freezes.
• You can make a good two-sided clipboard with a rectangle of particle board and binder clips.
• A large rubber band around the lower section of your clipboard can keep pages from flapping in the wind.
• Use legal-sized plastic protectors to protect completed petitions.
• Carry an umbrella in wet weather and hold it over the petition (and elector) while it's being signed.
• You can hang a clipboard around your neck from a lanyard to keep it close to you at all times but keep your hands free.

• Public sidewalks are always fair game for recall signature collection.
• Your local HQ has been compiling lists of good signature collection locations in your area. You don't have to search for spots blindly yourself.
• Public libraries are gold mines for signature collection. You will need to stay outside most libraries to do this, but most libraries also only use one entrance. Plus, you can park in their lots and you can stow your petitions in your car while you step inside to pee or get a drink from the fountain at intervals.
• Public sidewalks in front of closed businesses are great places to set up, because many have a handy place for people to pull out of traffic easily to sign. Since the business isn't open and no one is using the lot, it's unlikely that the owner will be inconvenienced and ask you to leave.
• Fleet Farm and Farm & Fleet are frequented by rural customers who otherwise might not see many petitioners in their communities. However, do NOT park on their lots--park somewhere else, walk, and stay on the public sidewalk.
• Check your local recall HQ for a list of events. Share any events that you know of with your local HQ.
• High traffic doesn't necessarily equal high signature numbers. If traffic is too heavy, people will focus their attention on other vehicles and tune out your presence. If it's not easy to pull in and out of your location, that will also play a factor.
• Be aware of usual traffic flow. Know your events, shift-changes, lunch breaks, rush hours, etc.
• Grocery stores before a Packer game are generally a solid signature outing.

• Visibility is everything. There are more than enough people who want to sign the petition--we just have to give them the opportunity.
• Neon colors show up well.
• Laminate your sign to weatherproof it.
• If your coat isn't overly visible, add a bright vest over top. You can find inexpensive ones at your local thrift store.
• You can use a kitchen broom as the base for a double-sided sign, homemade ones or yard signs. Depending on your coat, you may be able to put the handle in your pocket for hands-free visibility. For stability, add a zipping vest over your coat to keep the handle close to your body so it doesn't flop around.
• Figure out at what level you will hold your sign before attaching the handle. Make sure that both sides are visible above your head.
• You can make lighted signs using Christmas lights.
• Balloons are great for grabbing attention.
• If you'll be in a location after dark that isn't well-lit, bring a flash light for petitions and for your sign. Hands-free flashlights work well for petitions.
• You can use reflective paint on your sign.
• If you have good, visible signs, you don't have to ask people to sign your petition: they ask you if they can sign it.
• If you're able to have your car on the property, you can put recall signs on your car.
• Attaching your recall badge to your coat zipper like a ski pass means you can 'forget' it's there and have people ask you to sign petitions when you're not carrying your clipboard. You can also use recall "ask me" buttons to accomplish this.
• Hold your sign so that traffic comes toward the writing. It's much easier to see a sign facing you when you're driving than one you have to turn your head sideways to read.

• If a signer wants confirmation that you're the real deal, consider showing your ID. Your Recall HQ badge is also helpful. Finally, if you didn't print out your petitions yourself at home, look for the union-printed seal on the bottom. Whatever lengths people might go to in order to destroy petitions, anything with the union seal on it came from a recall HQ office, and these offices take down all your info and ask you when you're bringing them back, too. Probably too much trouble for most fakers.
• If you have a cell phone, program in the non-emergency number for your local law enforcement agency as well as your recall HQ phone number.
• Bring a camera. Document anything suspicious.
• Be prepared to get the license number of a vehicle if the driver threatens or otherwise harasses you or signers.
• Don't needlessly engage in debate. You're there to collect the signatures of people who WANT to sign. You can supply helpful information, but you're not there to change anyone's mind. You won't change anyone's mind, so enter all discussions with that knowledge.
• Stay cool. Bullies will try to provoke you. You're better than that.
• If people claim you don't have a life but insist on continuing to verbally attack you, feel free to remind them that they are wasting their own valuable time. Nothing they say will make you leave. Ask them what they hope to accomplish.
• Look people in the eye. Smile.
• As the circulator, you are able to fill in anything but the signature. If someone has shaky hands, you can help them. Also, you can have people simply sign the Kleefisch petition and fill in the rest from the accompanying Walker sheet later, which is especially helpful if it's really cold, people are in a hurry, or you have several people waiting in line. Make sure you find out from your local HQ what things you need to initial if you do this.
• If you find yourself on private property and you're asked to leave, do so happily. Just make sure that the person who asks you to leave has the authority to do so. A subtle way to do this is to ask the person to write down his or her name and number for our records in case we need to follow up in order to make sure this doesn't happen again.
• It's good to have a buddy to increase visibility and to offer each other bathroom breaks, but being alone doesn't mean you can't collect signatures anyway. Even women can collect signatures alone. Keep your wits about you and you'll be fine. (Note: BattiestGrrl is almost always alone when she collects signatures. Sure, there've been some bozos, but nothing serious.)
• Trust your gut. You're picking up on cues you haven't processed yet. Until you know otherwise, your gut is right.
• Create an emergency signature kit in your car so that you can collect signatures at any time. It should include at least one good sign, blank petitions, and pens.
• Set goals for yourself and schedule time to go out.
• Carry a 'rape whistle.'

• Carry granola bars or other semi-healthy snacks in your pocket.
• If your nose tends to run in the cold, use Halls cough drops to control the drip.

Feel free to send in your own tips! Forward!


  1. Bring a peice of heavy cardboard or foam core insulation board to stand on. It creates a insulative barrier between the sidewalk and your boots. It's an old trick from watching games at Lambeau.

  2. Excellent tip CJ! I'd remarked to others how standing on cement with my hunting boots isn't as warm, and this is a great logical way to fix it!

  3. Please share the tip freely. I apologize for my typos (piece).