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For the past seven months, more or less, I have gone for about three hours on Saturday mornings to the North Hollywood Metro Station in Los Angeles. It's my volunteering for Bernie. On a good day, we have seven or even eight volunteers, a canopy and a table, lots of flyers, voter registrations applications – in other words, the full works needed to promote Bernie Sanders for President. This has been going on for over eight months. On Wednesdays, many in the same group go down to Ventura Avenue in Sherman Oaks and have a “Honking for Bernie” between 5 and 7 in the evening.

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Flyering For Bernie—Michael Hertz

Overall, these efforts have been remarkably successful. The “honking” started back in August, and in the early days you were lucky to get a“Honk for Bernie” every five minutes or so. But now the drivers all know what to expect, and they honk like crazy. It's quite wonderful.

The flyering has followed more or less the same trajectory. But this past Saturday morning there were only two volunteers out there. Joe and me. Joe is a retired union carpenter, and I'm a retired attorney. We each had about 150 blue flyers to hand out. We started at 9:15 and by 11:15, we were out of flyers.

One thing Joe and I have learned is that if you can get one person to take a flyer, others will follow. Most of the time the “takers” will just grab what you hand them and keep marching. But a few times the “taker” will engage in conversation with you.

It's not easy to pass out flyers. That is, you offer the flyer with a smile while saying Bernie's name. Usually, the biggest flood of potential takers comes from across the street, where the Orange Line terminates and people come over to transfer to the Red Line. You get maybe 20 to 25 people at a time. Many are in a real hurry, because they want to catch their train. Some are chatting with one another, some are completely entranced by their phones. So you really have to catch their attention.

One thing Joe and I have learned is that if you can get one person to take a flyer, others will follow. Most of the time the “takers” will just grab what you hand them and keep marching. But a few times the “taker” will engage in conversation with you.

Often now, we get people who rush by, saying “Don't need one. I'm voting for him.” That's encouraging, and we probably got about ten people who did that this past Saturday. But twice we said a few things, and the person actually came back and asked for a few flyers to pass out to friends. We were happy to do that. And once a man who took a flyer asked how to get bumper stickers and buttons. (We told him to stop by next Saturday when the tent and table would be up, along with bumper stickers and buttons and lots of other stuff.)

One time I tried to get an old man to take a flyer. The old man was marching determinedly towards the station and I immediately took him off the “taker” list. But then, just as he was about to pass me, he plucked the flyer from my hand and said, “Bernie. I'm voting for him.” He gave the flyer a little wave, smiled, and then kept marching on.

Once a man took a flyer and then, “I can't vote. I just got out of jail and I'm on probation.” His name was Miguel. He went on to say that his friend Josh was supposed to pick him up at the Metro Station, but Miguel's phone wasn't working and he ask me to help him. No problem. I phoned Josh and got him to come down and pick up Miguel. Bernie would want me to do that, right?

The saddest young man was Afro-American. His hair was in braids, his clothes looked like he'd been sleeping the street. He took a flyer and smiled almost shyly. “Can this guy Bernie get me a job.”

“He wants everyone to have a job,” Joe said.

The kid looked at the card. “But can he get me a job now? I really need one.”

“He can't do anything until he's elected President.”

There are a lot of people out there who need Bernie.

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At our station, we get a lot of African-Americans, Latino-Americans, and a few Asian-Americans. And then, of course, a mix of all sorts of others – millennials, people with canes and in wheelchairs, people on skateboard and bicycles, homeless people, and so on.

One of my takers was a young man with a guitar. He looked perfectly normal, but then he started talking and I just couldn't follow him. He went on and on, and I just nodded, hoping he would stop and move on. Eventually, he did.

I turned to Joe. “Was that guy crazy or what?” I asked.

Joe smiled. “He's on meds or something.”

“He really needs Medicare for all.”

“Right.”

I was really happy when one of my “takers” was an old Asian-American man. He took the flyer, gave a small smile, and walked on.

“Look at that,” I said to Joe.

“I know,” he replied. “For some reason older Asians never take a flyer. Young ones sometimes.”

I nodded. From experience, I know that those least likely to take are the people deeply into their cell phones. Asian-Americans come next. African-Americans and Latino-Americans follow. Then Caucasian men. The best are Caucasian women. I don't know why this is, it just is.

But the best (regardless of age, gender, or ethnicity) is someone who is by him or herself, not in a hurry, willing to talk. Some will give a shake of the head and walk on, some will say, “Don't need one, I'm for Bernie,” and some will take one, saying, “I like him.” A very, very few now will ask, “Is he running for President?” Five months ago, there many more such questions. Not now.

The electorate is waking up. That's why we could pass out 300 flyers in two hours. They've heard of Bernie. They want to know more. And we're glad to oblige.

michael-hertz

And many of them really need him, so our society will change and improve.

Michael Hertz