Small town social media politics

It was late at night when the phone rang.  I didn’t bother answering it because it’s always for my wife and since I feel confident in my secretary Spanish I just let her get it.  This time though after about a minute of talking she turned and handed the phone to me.  In a look of astonishment I tried to read her face as to why I needed to get involved. 

Was it a telemarketer?  Somebody trying to prank us?  Or some lost tourist calling out of desperation?  I fumbled with the phone and slowly raised it to my ear.  “H-Hello” I said not even sure what language I should be speaking.  I received a poorly articulated, mumbled response that sounded much more like gibberish than Spanish or English.  After repeated attempts to establish who this person was and what they were asking me I was about to write this person off as a prank artist when their was a sudden change in the tone of the voice.

Gone was the soft, mumbled whisper now replaced by a deeper more polished tone.  “Dustin, what is the password to my Facebook account?”  Stymied I was still trying to piece together vital information.  First off, who is calling me and why at this time?  Is this person safe?  For all I know maybe he was being held for ransom by computer hackers… “It’s me. A, Ale-le-jo, ejo, Alejo..” Alejo?  I thought for a moment and that’s when it made sense.

A few days earlier I had received a call, during normal business hours, from my wife’s uncle about help setting up a Facebook page.  I was a little perplexed as it’s not everyday a middle aged banker starts a social media account.  There had been rumors circling the last month or so that he would be running in next February’s elections for mayor of San Ramon.  It wasn’t quite Joe Biden buzz but it was to the point where even I was getting asked in the street. Something had to be up.

Well, when he arrived later that afternoon he came sporting bumper stickers: Alejo Castro Mayor 2016, thus putting to rest the rumors that had been circling the last month.  As far as a social media announcement he had his heart set on Facebook.

I didn’t think he knew exactly what it was for or how to use it, but he knew that he needed it.  Like he read it in a campaign strategy book or something.  He probably also read somewhere that nothing is officially official until Facebook says so.

I mean this is the uncle that comes over on the weekends to hang out with his sister and brother in law, the one who invites us to go ride his horse.  This is the one who visited my parent’s house and was most amazed by how green the grass was and how beautiful it looked when it was all mowed and swept up.  This guy couldn’t be farther from social media than Pluto is from the Sun.          

Our first meeting couldn’t have been closer to the truth.  He sat in the living room with my in laws and yelled instructions to me while I sat at the kitchen table making the page.  Occasionally he would use my wife as a messenger when I couldn’t hear him over the roar of the TV or the dog barking for attention.  I felt like I was at my grandparent’s house where my Grandpa would yell at us from his armchair instead of getting up and walking over to see what we were doing.

I felt honored that he would trust me enough to make the page for him.  Maybe that was a sign that I’m now part of the family and it felt good. No one close to me has ever gotten involved political so much that they started a campaign and it was great knowing I had successfully made my contribution to the campaign, well, up until the phone call.  The following day I was working in my office when there was a knock on the door.  I went to the door and there was the banker.  Dressed in a suit and tie and flashing around his smart phone, he was really trying to act the part now.

“Chito (a Costa Rican word for boy) how do I get all my social media friends to ‘like’ my page?”  I was taken aback.  “Is that your smart phone?”  I asked, or was he borrowing it from someone?  After corralling his wavering arm I managed to take a look at his phone and it turns out it was indeed his and he even had the Facebook app installed.  However still no page likes.

In Costa Rica the term “pobrecito” (you poor thing) is used when people notice that you are not achieving what you want to achieve.  Usually right after they say that they will offer to help in some way.  I didn’t say it but I was definitively thinking it so I invited him in and we figured out how to get ‘likes’. 

Since then I haven’t been awaken in the middle of the night with any social media emergencies and I’ve also seen that he’s been adding content to his page.  I’m not convinced I taught an old dog a new trick but I think I’ve bought myself some time until the next campaign event.  I just hope he doesn’t ask me to open a Twitter feed for him, then I’ll be the pobrecito. 

Alejo Castro 2016


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