Friday, October 29, 2010

My Jim Cooper Story

My Democratic Congress Critter Jim Cooper has been running some positive ads to keep his name out there, and I think this is the best one:

It basically talks about how Cooper helped his constituents after the Nashville floods, and delivers a nice “Cooper Cares” message. Now, this is standard-issue political messaging, what one would expect from a sitting Congressman running for re-election. But I just had to share my own “Cooper Cares” story, because I actually think it’s pretty funny.

I’ve met Cooper once, at a bloggers’ coffee a year or two ago. I was with a group of people, and I introduced myself under my nom de blog. Now it’s true I call and write all of my Congress Critters pretty regularly about issues before the House and Senate, but when I do so I use my Citizens’ name, not my blog name, and most of the time I talk to whichever poor Beleaguered Intern has been tasked with answering the phone that day. So I’m pretty confident that Rep. Cooper doesn’t know me from Adam; I could be wrong but if anything his office knows me as the nutcake who calls all the time to ask when the hell we’re bringing the troops home from Iraq and Afghanistan and why haven’t we closed SOA/WHINSEC?

So, last year -- I think it was when he was promoting his own healthcare reform plan -- I called his office to voice my concerns about healthcare reform. I left my name and number with the Beleaguered Intern and expected that to be that and went about my day.

Now, let me interject here and say: I am not a telephone person. I despise the telephone. I have a cell phone, which I rarely use; if I remember to have my cell phone with me, half the time it’s not even turned on. Which is fine because if it is turned on, I can never hear it ring. I also perpetually forget to check messages on the landline. Anyone who wants to reach me knows not to call me. Send me an e-mail. That’s just how I roll; I’m a writer not a talker.

Okay, so here I’m doing my civic duty calling my Congress Critter about healthcare reform and then I leave the house for errands or whatever. And it must have been eight hours or so later -- heck, it might have been the next day -- that I realized my house phone line was messed up. So I turn on my cell phone to call BellSouth and that’s when I discovered Jim Cooper had left me a message! Now, how he got my cell phone number I have no idea, and frankly I was pretty astonished he had called because, again, he doesn’t know me from Adam, I’ve never given his campaign any money, and I was really just accustomed to leaving my little citizens’ message of concern with the Beleaguered Intern and being done with it.

So I called Cooper back on the number he had left. He said he’d tried to return my call several times, and became concerned when my phone appeared to be disconnected. So somehow he was able to get my cell phone number -- I don’t really want to know how, but let me guess it’s through perfectly normal Tennessee Democratic Party channels and not something requiring security clearance -- and tried to reach me that way. He said it more than once: “I was concerned when I couldn’t reach you.” I mean, dang. My own family doesn’t get concerned when they can’t reach me: half the time I think they call when they know I’m not at home.

Anyway, this story actually warmed my heart. I thought, if anything happens to Mr. Beale and I’m all alone and something awful happens -- God forbid -- I won’t have to worry that my body will go undiscovered until the smell alerts the neighbors. As long as I keep calling Coop’s office, I’ll know he’s concerned about me, too. I know this sounds corny, but I’m not sure there are too many members of Congress out there so fired up to talk to a constituent who doesn’t give them tons of money but just wants to nag about peace, healthcare and solar panels.