Being the born and bred, Southern, genteel woman that I am, I really don’t think I have a noticeable accent. While speaking with registered voters in Maine during phone banking, it appears that I have a generic, pleasant enough voice and the Southern seems to go unnoticed.
No one has mentioned anything about an accent anyway... except for Liz who told me I really needed to stop pronouncing Bangor like “bang-er.” She was nice about correcting me, but I knew that if I were to have any sort of street cred, it needed to be pronounced “bang-gore.” With the correct pronunciations for Bangor and Orono (“or no”) firmly entrenched in my vocabulary, all phone conversations are now going smoothly, but talking with Mainers face-to-face? That is totally another matter.
Here’s how all but one of my conversations went during my first door-to-door canvassing:
“Hi, are you ‘John’? My name is Kerri, and I’m a volunteer with the No on 1 campaign. We’re the folks working to protect marriage equality in Maine. We’re talking to voters in your neighborhood today about marriage. Do you support marriage for same-sex couples?”
After a bit of hesitation and a growing smile, “Where are you from, Kerri?”
“You can tell I’m not from Maine?”
“Yeah, you’ve got a bit of an accent. What part of the South are you from?”
“I’m from Texas. I’m on a Volunteer Vacation working with the great people at the No on 1 campaign to protect Maine equality.”
“What made you decide to come from Texas to do this?”
“I believe in human rights. I believe that all Americans should have the right to marry if they so choose. Marriage should be viewed as a civil union — not a religious one. I believe in the separation of church and state and do not appreciate religious organizations trying to force all people to follow their doctrine. Maine’s marriage law already makes allowances for religious freedom — all religions and anyone certified to perform marriages have the right of refusal without prosecution. Marriage inequality in our country has to stop, and I’m here doing what I can to make it stop here. How do you feel about it?”
“I’m not going to ask anyone about their personal life. I don’t want anyone asking me about mine. I'm not going to tell them they can or can’t get married because I didn’t have to get anyone’s permission to marry my wife. Live and let live is what I say. And thanks for coming to Maine to work on this. How long are ya in Maine for?”
“Until after the vote... ”
No, not everyone I have met or talked with has been amicable, but when 99% of the people I've come in contact with are cordial, caring, understanding, helpful and appreciative, I'm going to make this broad statement about them: Mainers are what all Americans should be!
So come on up to Down East Maine and be an activist with me. Besides great people, there's beautiful scenery, scrumptious food, cold ginger and microbrews, and plenty of work for the cause. Not sure how to get here? That's no problem — we've got that covered. Take a look at what Protect Maine Equality's Volunteer Vacation is all about. Come on up to Bangor. Tell 'em Kerri sent ya!