Tuesday, November 2, 2010

God bless the poll workers

Later this morning, I’m going to pull on a sweatshirt and wander over to our polling place. With any luck, the early rush will be over. The poll workers will be sitting there, enjoying the lull, and I’ll have a chance to shoot the breeze with them.

I like poll workers. They aren’t your run-of-the-mill, take-a-number-and-wait, Department of Motor Vehicle types. Poll workers genuinely care about doing the job well, and doing the job right. Even the grumpy ones.

We’ve endured months of bluster and polarization fueled by cable television, talk radio, and political advertising. Many of us will go to the polls today not so much to vote for someone as to vote against the other side. We will walk in with teeth clenched, and black-hearted vengeance on our minds.

And there will be those poll workers—the first group of positive people we will have encountered since before the precinct caucuses last winter. They won’t be looking for an argument. They won’t have an axe to grind. All they’ll want is to help us vote.

I like the way poll workers come prepared for monotony. I like walking into that church basement or school gym and seeing them sitting there, reading glasses balanced on the tips of their noses, with a library copy of a Barbara Kingsolver book—or with knitting. I love poll workers who knit. Somewhere down deep, I wish one of them would knit an Election Day scarf just for me.

I even like the way you get to stand there with a poll worker and watch your ballot slide into the machine. There’s something so nice and final about it. Then they hand you that little “I Voted” sticker and send you on your way. What can I say? I just plain like poll workers.

Growing up, I wanted to be a cowboy or a football player. I write for a living now, but you know what I really want to do? I want to be a poll worker.