"My father-in-law is a racist and my mother-in-law thinks her vote doesn't count" -- a 38-year-old Ohio woman tells me after I introduce myself as a volunteer with the Obama campaign. Other responses likely to stick with me even after the results come in on Tuesday night:
"No, honey, I don't need a ride to the polls" -- an 87-year-old woman with a ready laugh. "I have a sister who's a year younger and we volunteer two days a week...and we do yoga!"
"I'm a Republican, but when McCain picked Sarah Palin, he lost me" - several people.
"I'm so nervous" -- a 52-year-old woman in Virginia. "I want this to be over." I urge her to go onto BarackObama.com and make calls, as I'm doing, to allay her anxiety. "And if that's not enough, drink a glass of wine," I advise, adding, "The only red I want to see in these next few days is in a wine glass.
"You know why I won't vote for him," a 64-year-old West Virginia man, after admitting he hates McCain. When I refuse to supply the words, he tells me, "It's his color." This is a departure from all those who refuse to share their issues with me, arousing my suspicions.
"I'm undecided. I'd vote for whichever one would end the war soonest" - a Pennsylvania woman.
Perhaps the most enthusiastic response is from a dog, who barks continually during the entire conversation. I joke, "Is that a bark for change?"
Though I can't know that my calls have any impact on the campaign, I'm keenly aware of their effect on me. "My 25-year-old son was in an accident and is now paralyzed. I'm counting on Obama to fund stem cell research" -- a mother with a son the same age as mine. My determination is fueled by her desperation. Despite fatigue and a dry throat, I continue calling.