Burned Out By the PIRG

A great comment from Chase
July 17, 2009, 2:04 pm
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Send us your stories, like Chase!  burnedoutbyPIRG@gmail.com.

The previous comments regarding the PIRG geo-flex clustermess are complete BS. Sure, at first it’s about where they have positions available, but it doesn’t stop there. It extends into the summer canvass, your own personal canvass during the year, and then, (from personal experience) where you’ll go when they kidnap you from your life for an election campaign.

I was hired with Environment America (PIRG’s offshoot) in March of ‘08 to start work in August of that year. I was thrilled to be a Political Science major with a job immediately after college.

I arrived in August and was then inundated with the brainwashing, the forced social interaction (I was lucky to have a great incoming fellows group) and the uncertainty as to where I might end up. (Also, they take great liberty with what you say in the initial interviews regarding geo-flex… I said I would be open to the southeast… when did Illinois become the southeast?) Luckily, I was assigned to Florida where I had requested and was eager to get a move on making my arrangements.

But! We were informed on the last few days that we were going to be working on the election campaign for Barack Obama, as a separate entity, but still in support of him. I was alright with this since I supported Obama, but was a little concerned as to why I was not given an option. I also wasn’t given the opportunity to fly home and arrange my living arrangements for another two months. I was carted off to New Hampshire, Tampa, FL, and Colorado all within this two months. I had the same two suitcases of clothes and bathroom amenities for the entire time. There were no days off. No weekends, not even a half sunday except for twice during voter registration because the office director was as fed up as I was. I worked from eight in the morning until most of time eleven at night every day. On the door-to-door information canvassing portion of the campaign, for which I was in a wintry Colorado, I was not allowed to spend time finding warm clothes until a small group of us rebelled and demanded it.

Perhaps the most damnable thing about the PIRG’s is that they send you to random locations around the U.S. and expect you to find residency with friends or relatives within considerable proximity to the office. However, even though they ask whether you have lodging in other states, it most often comes down to wherever they need warm bodies. To be fair, they won’t leave you without some place to stay, but the idea of staying with a person you do not know from Adam is just a poop-cherry on top of the crapcake that PIRG is so known for serving.
So, three trainings, four states (including the original Boston training from where we were shipped off) and two suitcases later I finally made it home. My parents later said they were concerned because I was incapable of remaining in one place for more than thirty seconds. I was constantly needing to move, my nerves had been fried. Extra crispy.

One last thing, the one that finally did it for me. When I was finally in my office, I had no idea what to do because the trainings were solid on what needed to be done, but not so much on the “getting started” aspect. On top of that, the only other person that worked in Environment Florida (two people… fourth biggest state and there are two people) was in Miami doing his work from there. I was given random assignments from a guy in D.C. that correlated to a federal campaign for which I was given no solid foundation to complete. I gave up when they told me I had to drive to Miami to canvass. That’s a solid eight to ten hour drive. They had me stand on the streets of Miami and ask people for money. I left Miami and left PIRG.