Why I think more people aren’t volunteering for the RNC: the volunteer application

08goplogo.jpgThe 2008 Republican National Convention aims to recruit 10,000 volunteers who will be needed to help with:

  • Welcoming delegates at airports and hotels
  • Assisting with transportation logistics
  • Working with security teams
  • Supporting convention operations at the Xcel Energy Center
  • Providing guest services and other hosting activities at CivicFest in the Minneapolis Convention Center

According to the PiPress today, they are still 6,000 short of their goal of 10,000.

After filling out the volunteer application, I think I know why.

When I saw MNSpeak’s link to this story a few minutes ago, I turned to my wife and said, “Umm…did you ever re-sign up to register for the RNC, honey?” You see, we actually signed up to volunteer on September 17, 2007, but apparently that application didn’t pass muster.

This is from the e-mail I got from the RNC on May 1:

The 2008 Minneapolis Saint Paul Host Committee recently launched a new volunteer application at www.msp2008.com/volunteer and are requesting you fill out this application in addition to the one you previously completed.

In addition to the one you previously completed?!? DAMN IT!

“I forwarded you the link to submit the new application,” she tells me, “but you should know it took me like 20 minutes.”

Great. Super. I’m still rolling my eyes. I understand background checks and security clearance are important, but seriously — 20 minutes? No wonder they’re shy volunteers. Anyone in Generation X or Y probably won’t make it past the 3-4 minute mark.

But I pushed forward, knowing there was a red clipboard out there somewhere with a big “My Name is Greg” nametag temporarily stuck on it just for me.

Here are my observations in filling out the application:

  • The password has to be 8 characters, have a capital letter, at least one numeral AND a special character. It’s really overkill. I have maybe 3-4 passwords I use as general rule, and none of them include a special character. Are you like me and just add an exclamation mark to an old standby password in this situation? It’s like my password is shouting. Password1234! But really, that exclamation point is guaranteeing I won’t remember it if I ever need it again, will have to reset the password by remembering what I put for my secret profile password I’ll need in case I forget the first password, which always forces me to chose which of my cats is the favorite (so I use a made-up pet name [that yes, I sometimes forget]).
  • 3. I am conversational in the following languages (this one doesn’t include English)
  • 4. I am fluent in the following languages” (this one doesn’t doesn’t include English, either. Seems pretty self-limiting considering our large immigrant population).
  • 5. Computer skills:
    1. None
    2. Can use standard programs and the Internet
    3. Advanced User: Proficient in Microsoft Excel
    (I’m glad to see an “Advanced User” means you can work a spreadsheet or maybe even tackle one of those fancy =AVERAGE(IF((A1:A60>=Low) *(A1:A60<=High),A1:A60) kind of formulas)
  • 8. Experience with the elderly:
    1. None
    2. Some: Have assisted elderly friends or family members
    3. Expert: Professional counselor or therapist for the aged
    (I wish there was a blank for, “Hate being stuck behind them on 394 in the left lane with left blinker on” or maybe “Please don’t stick me working with an old person who makes insensitive racial jokes, likes to smack me on the back and/or complain about gas prices.” And who has ZERO experience with the elderly, really? We’ve all seen them on TV, at least.)
  • 14. Driver license number
    (If they have your social security number, wouldn’t they have access to your driver’s license? I had to get off the couch and dig for my wallet in the other room. Then I decided to get a drink and next thing you know I’m surfing YouTube “jump style” videos.

Yes! It says it saved my progress so far, and now I’m into the “Referral section.” Time to get up, stretch, find my laptop’s power cord and maybe pick a new iTunes mix.

  • 1. Which group referred you to the Minneapolis Saint Paul 2008 Convention? (I wrote “the internet” — which is probably my favorite group ever).

At this point I got to rate how much I would like to help with certain tasks:

  • 4. Airport welcome desk:
    1. Ideal
    2. Would not mind
    3. Acceptable
    4. Would not prefer
    5. Undesirable

At this point I stopped to ask my wife what she put down for all of these luxurious choices. She stopped what she was doing and tried to remember. You see, we don’t really need to do the same things, but for babysitter and only owning one car reasons, we don’t really want to be downtown and the airport at the same time. We debated event staffing vs. office vs. airports for awhile. She would’ve logged into her account to see what she put down, but SHE COULDN’T REMEMBER HER PASSWORD! (please note the explanation mark).

Then I had the privilege of going date-by-date from August 16 through September 5 to give them availability morning, afternoon, evening or not available. But first I had to get up and find my calendar, then sync back up with the wife. Turns out I’m going up to Lake of the Woods to fish over Labor Day Weekend, but there wasn’t a blank for me to tell them that’s why I couldn’t make it for the RNC kick-off. I hope McCain will understand. Fishing is definitely a conservative pastime, right?

Finally, I was at the last page and ready to hit FINISH. Oh look, there’s finally a link to the Privacy Policy to see how all of my information will be used. Of course, most people don’t ever read these, but I skimmed it just for giggles. Turns out, I really don’t like that they automatically sell your information to third parties:

(i) We may share your First Tier Information with the Committee on Arrangements for the 2008 Republican National Convention (“COA”), a committee of the Republican National Committee and with selected partners and/or third parties to provide you with information about events and opportunities that might be of interest to you and also would provide you with system information or information about similar events, political candidates or the like; however, the application will allow you to opt-out of having your First Tier Information shared with selected partners and/or third parties other than the COA…

That’s pretty crappy. Most web forms these days have a couple checkboxes for this kind of opt-in list-selling. Looks like I’m going to be on all sorts of mailing lists for the next year or so. Hooray.

Overall, the application took me about 40 minutes to fill out whilst blogging it, watching YouTube, Twittering and generally giving way to my ADHD whims. The average person will probably breeze through the application. And they should. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity, after all.

Fill out your application here. And be sure to tell them you LOVE the elderly. I have a feeling not many people are “Experts.”

6 Comments so far

  1. dbrmn on June 11th, 2008 @ 7:31 am

    Labor Day weekend is AFTER the Republican Convention, not at the beginning of it. Labor Day is September 8 this year.

    Better double-check that calendar so you don’t miss out on McCain.

  2. greg on June 11th, 2008 @ 8:11 am

    Um, maybe you better check your calendar. Labor Day is September 1, and Republican National Convention is September 1-4, 2008.

  3. tipper on June 11th, 2008 @ 1:56 pm

    Dang, greg, now people know for sure that you’re a Republican! Please blog about all of the hate mail you receive.

    I’d make some sort of crack about McCain and the elderly, but since I like the guy (I’m a McCainiac!), I’ll refrain.

  4. greg on June 11th, 2008 @ 2:03 pm

    I’m actually learning toward Bob Barr myself. :)

  5. dbrmn on June 11th, 2008 @ 2:05 pm

    What the hell?

    Darn it. I told some out of town visitors that the Republicans would be gone by Labor Day Weekend for them to come here.

    What am I gonna do?

  6. David (jacc) on June 11th, 2008 @ 9:59 pm

    I can’t believe there’s not an option to skip all this crap and just give them my credit card number and pledge of allegiance. Where’s the free market in action?

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