Pete J.

Pete J.
Sierra Club canvasser
University of Michigan,
senior (sport management)

Tottered on: 13 February 2007
Temperature: 12F
Ceiling: snowstorm!!
Ground: snowy
Wind: NE 16mph


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TT with HD: Pete J.


HD: Is this going to balance for you?

PJ: Yeah.

HD: Okay the first order of business is to take your picture ... [Ed. note: photography ensues]

HD: Now, what's your name?

PJ: Pete!

HD: You're a UM student?

PJ: Yep. Senior. The last couple of months!

HD: So this is something you actually get paid to do--to go around to houses for the Sierra Club? Or is this an internship you just get college credit for?

PJ: If this was not paid, it would be hard to do! But, no, we do get paid, it's kind of like commission.

HD: So you have a certain number you have to get in order to get paid?

PJ: Yeah, we have a quota. Basically, whatever we make, we get a percentage of, so usually we go out for five hours a day. I'm a part time so I only go twice a [week], because I'm in school also. We meet in the office at 2pm practice and we all have lunch and then we go out. Everyone goes out solo, and you come back and you debrief, and you tell them how much you got. We set goals every week for postcards, for new members, and for overall money. And our current campaign, like I said, is global warming.

HD: Okay, so here in Ann Arbor I imagine that the general level of sympathy is quite high?

PJ: Yes. We do pick areas that we would get a good percentage out of. A lot of the people I go to are actually members. But since I work out of PIRGIM, we don't coordinate with Sierra Club that specifically. We'd love to know, each time we go to a house, but we do have renewals and we know their addresses. So when we do go up to them, we address them by their name and we try to get them to sign up again. But yeah, Ann Arbor is great ...

HD: ... is there any particular neighborhood in Ann Arbor you'd identify as particularly receptive to door-to-door canvassing?

PJ: I think these type ones right near close the campus, not as suburb-y-ish--you know this is suburbs, but it's not really ....

HD: ... you'd consider this suburbs??

PJ: No, I don't, but it's kind of older houses ...

HD: ... so single-family houses, ...

PJ: ... closer to Main Street area, older houses, older neighborhoods. Usually, people who want to live in older neighborhoods, I just think there's a correlation. But we're not supposed to assume or pre-judge anything.

HD: So do you get to pick your area, or is that assigned?

PJ: No, that's up to other people in the office, and they choose. They give each person their own turf.

HD: So have you ever had people around here be extraordinarily rude? Just like unprovoked and inexplicably rude?

PJ: Oh, no. No, the worst, is: We're not interested, go away! Well, not 'go away', but they give you a hand gesture at the window. But that's good ...

HD: ... so they don't even open the door?

PJ: No. Which is fine, because that means that they're not wasting our time and we can move on, because we're trying to get as many 'completes' as we can.

HD: And a 'complete' means?

PJ: It means they open the door, you talk to them, or they say, No. That's a 'complete'. That's another statistic that we jot down. We're looking for quick Yes's and quick No's. We do like to interact, but at the same time we do have to make it as quickly as possible.

HD: So taking time out for a teeter totter ride is sort of a sacrifice on your part?

PJ: Well, it is, but I started a little bit early, and it's worth it since ...

HD: ... you got a 'complete'.

PJ: I got a 'complete' and I got a donation, so it's worth it [laugh]!.

HD: So you're a senior. Do you have anything lined up for post-graduation yet?

PJ: Not really, I don't really know yet what I want to do. But we'll see.

HD: Are you at least starting to get a little worried about the fact that you don't have anything lined up to do?

PJ: A little bit, but you know I'm a qualified person and I'll find a good stop.

HD: Are you in some environmental field of study?

PJ: No, I'm in sport management.

HD: Do you at least take any courses at all over in the Dana Building?

PJ: No, I just read the paper and I'm really into it. It's more of an activity than a field of study for me. If I had to do it all over again, I would have probably chosen a different major, but it's too late. You know, you're a teenager and your interests change. That's what I'm doing here!

HD: Well, listen, I don't want to keep you from your rounds any longer, it's really snowing hard at this point. So I just want to thank you for taking time out to ride the teeter totter.

PJ: Well, thank you for your donation!