SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska

If the phone don’t ring, it’s me not calling

By Dave Kiffer


November 24, 2014
Monday PM

Ketchikan, Alaska -
Things seem kinda lonely around the old Salmon City homestead these days.

jpg  Dave Kiffer

It’s just been so danged quiet since the election on November 4th that I can hardly stand it.

That loudly ringing silence we hear? That’s the rest of the world telling us Alaskans that we just don’t matter anymore. And it hurts just as bad as a 10th grade break up!

Prior to the election, I felt really, really special. You remember how it was. The phone was ringing off the hook. Mail was overflowing the mailbox. Nice people were coming to the door every day to make sure I was going to vote.

I really, really, really felt like I was important, that I was somebody. That my vote mattered!

In fact, all 770,909 residents of Alaska felt like we “was really, really, really special.”

Usually, we are treated as an afterthought by the political powers that be. You remember, they used to even announce the winners of the Presidential races before we had even had a chance to finish voting in our neck of the woods.

Speaking of which, what the heck does our “neck of the woods” even mean, Al Roker?

Why not our “thigh” of the woods, or our “uvula” of the woods?

Research tells me that it has nothing to do with body parts. It has to do with a piece of land, usually a narrow one mostly surrounded by water.

Which explains why I was confused years ago when a college friend explained he grew up in “Throggs Neck.”

Natch, I thought he said “Frog's Neck.” Now there is a body part that has no purpose.

Kinda of like Alaska’s role in most national elections, but, as usual, I digress.

I’m not going to recap the all the reasons why those concerned about how national politics was going to turn out suddenly cared about us. Suffice it to say they did.

And suddenly all 770,912 (I have just prattled on through three births) residents of Alaska were important to somebody in at least some part of the political spectrum.

Every evening, there was a telephone call or six to answer. Although a lot of folks just ignored the ringing or hung up, I took particular joy in answering differently each time.

I especially liked the “push polls” in which the questioner would determine who you were thinking about voting for and if it was not the one that the poll “favored” they would give you additional information to help inform your decision.

For example “would you still be in favor of voting for (insert candidate’s name here) if you knew that he was a Nazi and a cannibal?”

I would pause, as if I were truly pondering the weight of this new information.

“Yep, sure, absolutely,” I would reply.

Then there would a pause on the other.


“Oh, yeah, 100 percent.”

That would usually end the questioning.

Then there was all the mail.

My word, it was likely suddenly being in 1980 again. Remember back then, people actually sent stuff to each other? We wrote, and received letters. We mailed stuff. Lots of stuff.

Postal workers were known for being the heroic delivers of that stuff (Neither rain, nor snow, yadda yadda yadda) rather than for just going post….Oh nevermind. I digress again.

Sure some rich, businessy types “faxed” but most of us put things in the mail with stamps on them and then eagerly visited the mail box each day to see what had arrived.

You remember how the best day of the year was when the Sears “Wishbook” arrived in the mail???

(short pause to allow ear-to-ear grins to subside)

We didn’t email, we didn’t text, we didn’t snark all over the place on Facebook or Twitter. A hashtag was actually had a purpose. It was a pound sign. Go figure.

We use to get mail. And for a while, this fall, we in Alaska got mail again. Every day was a new deluge of flyers and letters. Most of it was about candidate X and his membership in the Nazi-Cannibal Party.

Finally, we actually had “canvassers.” It’s been a generation since a “canvasser” came to my porch to ask me if I was going to vote and to encourage me to do so.

Maybe it’s because I live a couple of flights of stairs at the top of a steep hill.

Maybe it’s just because going “door to door” is much more pleasant in October in Rancho Mirage than it is in Ketchikan.

But in general, candidates and their surrogates don’t usually do that sort of thing around our pancreas of the woods.

But, alas, all that is over.

Actually it was over before the polls closed in Alaska at 8 pm on November 4th.

Turned out that Alaska’s results didn’t matter anymore than a “hill of beans in this crazy mixed up world” after all.

So now we are back to being an irrelevant backwater to the national political stream. And, if we so choose, we can go back to supporting the Nazi-Cannibal Party in our appendix of the woods in peace.

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Dave Kiffer is a freelance writer living in Ketchikan, Alaska.
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Stories In The News
Ketchikan, Alaska


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