First Day as a PBS Canvasser

My first day on the job was exhausting, frustrating, and surprisingly uplifting. First and foremost I learned more than I ever really wanted to about PBS. When I thought of PBS before it was usually just Sesame Street and Nova, but now I know about all the different funding, and stations, and oh lord the acronyms! After that I had to practice the “rap.” This is the memorized speech that I must give at every answered door. Let’s just say it is quite the monologue. Once that was done we hit the road. From 3pm to 8pm we knock on doors, pray for replies, and give ardent speeches in order to move people to give the money necessary to keep PBS alive. Most people are bothered by the interruption we are in their lives. Others lie to us about not having the funds, having company over, or eating dinner. But, we are out there pining for the 10% of people who say, “Yes, PBS is a wonderful service and I am will to contribute to keep that quality programming available to everyone for free.” These people are very hard to find. The first three hours of the day are usually spent knocking on the doors of empty houses. We rarely see a face and when we do, they are usually retired, on a fixed income, and have no extra money to give. However, once 6pm rolls around, the world is our oyster. All of a sudden there are too many people to talk to. People told me I was inspiring. Others said I was doing “good work.” It will never cease to amaze me how responsive people are as soon as they hear PBS. Most people see me coming and assume I am trying to sell them something. They are usually grumpy, and are ready to shut the door in my face, but the second I mention PBS, their faces light up with delight. In the age of cable, satellite, and Netflix streaming, I thought most people would tell me that they don’t watch PBS anymore, but to my surprise, it seems like everyone loves PBS universally. I truly do believe that there should be educational and entertaining television available to everyone for free, and I am glad to be part of the team that is keeping those stations running.

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