Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Election Day

I did not post yesterday, because it was election day, and insanely busy.  Kathy and I went to the polls on our way to work.  I ranted for a while about how I think they should use public schools as polling places rather than churches (our polling place was our lady of the sacred heart, or something, and had statues of  crying Virgin Mary holding the infant Jesus all over the place).  The poll worker got himself all confused by the fact that Kathy and I have the same address and he couldn't figure out what our relationship was.  I voted, and sent my ballot through the scanner.  BUT.  I did not get one of these:

I mean, what the heck.  That is half the reason I vote, to get one of those stickers.  And I don't know who this is, but according to this person, I could have gotten all manner of free stuff for having that sticker (like coffee!  and donuts!).  Free stuff aside, I think those stickers are important.  Unbelievable as it may be to me, people actually forget it's election day.  When you see people walking around with those stickers, it's a helpful reminder to do your civic duty.  Also, we needed to make sure Paladino didn't get elected ( I mean really, he runs around with a guy in black face and says "It's just a funny face in a picture"?), and I wanted people to know I had done my share on that front.  The sticker just makes me feel sort of proud of myself for the rest of the day. 

On top of all that -- as if that weren't enough -- I volunteered yesterday with Election Protection and I did feel a bit weird volunteering without evidence that I had voted myself.  Although I suppose that if they don't hand out those stickers in New York, then no one would have had one. 

I was really nervous about volunteering.  I was staffing the hotline, though, and they just kind of throw you in there, with the assurance that most people just need help finding their polling place, and we aren't really passing out "legal advice" per se.  We had training, of course, but everyone knows training and experience are two different things.  I did have all kinds of interesting calls, including a guy from New York who wanted to "bust my chops" about the distance of campaign signage from his polling place (his view was that 100 feet, as required by law, is insufficient, and it should be 300 feet.  Duly noted, my friend), and a guy from Mississippi who started the call with "I hope you don't hang up on me like the last girl" (I did).  In the end, though, I did mostly help people find their polling place, figure out if they were registered, and get people voting on full ballots instead of provisional ballots.  You know, generally enfranchising the disenfranchised.  It was stressful.  My phone was ringing constantly, my ear and neck hurt from holding the phone between my shoulder and head while I typed, and I was all sweaty and clammy by the end of my shift.  But it was also incredibly rewarding.  I have done pro bono work at the firm, but this was something else.  It made me feel the way I felt when I was in college.  I didn't know you could get this feeling from non-partisan work!

Then, I had to come back to work.  It was enough to burst my Election Protection bubble as I stood in the elevator, on my way back up to my office. 

After I had done some work, I had this little window of time where I was waiting for someone to give me comments so I could send out what I had written, and I stuck my head into the office of the associate next to me, who was, of course, still at work.  There was talking, and laughing, and looking at Halloween costume pictures on facebook. 

I still plan to quit.  I think about it daily.  But I do like these other women I work with, who have somehow managed to eke some happiness out of life even working in this soul-sucking environment.  I think it is amazing sometimes, that of all the people in New York City, my office happens to share a floor with not just one, but several people that I really actually like.  Sometimes I worry that staying at home and writing, as nice as it sounds, will deprive me of the office camaraderie that I find I like so much.  Maybe I need some kind of blend, some kind of job where I can get feel-good vibes like volunteering at Election Protection, I get to work with people I genuinely like, and I get to have the time at home to manage my own life and spend time with my family.  I know, I know.  We really do want it all.  But why not, why shouldn't we have it all?  If anyone knows what this dream job is, please let me know.  Thanks.

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