Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Wet Street Voting

JP was awash this morning. One downspout was clogged and puddling beside the window well where it flooded a few years ago. I ended up on a ladder taking off, clearing and re-affixing the spout at the roof line. I had to laugh when loosening the spout funneled a couple of quarts of rain into my raincoat arm and inside. I should have worn a bathing suit instead.

Regardless, this was after I slogged to the polling spot at the Woodbourne retirement home on Hyde Park Avenue. That coincidentally was the site of the first apartment building in the area. When the Woodbourne neighborhood went up after WWI, they put a large building (comparatively to the single-family houses) there primarily to buffer the houses from the noise and bustle of the avenue. We couldn't have our new middle class hearing carriage and cars.

Vote Now: The polls are like to be extraordinary light. The whole Boston City Council is up for the taking. Get up, stand up, vote by 8 p.m.

In the downpour, turnout was, well, not turned out. As I rounded Northbourne, I could see no one at the entrance to the little parking lot. There are normally two campaigners per candidate in front of the chain link fence. Instead the not-so-stalwart minions had stuck their sign handles into the fence and probably headed home or to the nearest Dunkin'.

Eventually, I did see a single campaigner with a sign. He had his back to the voter-less building and was facing the main street. He was from Michael Flaherty's campaign. That could suggest that the Council President has the best organization, or that his worker was particularly loyal, or that he didn't have sense enough to come in from the rain.

Inside, I was the only voter. Then I felt like a chump. Our district Councilor, John Tobin is unopposed. There are no ballot questions. I had my at-large candidates in mind. So, five seconds and smudges later, I was headed to the ballot machine. I didn't even have to stop at the second table. The cops watching and checking off there know me and said they had already gotten me.

My only excitement came with the Nellie poll watcher. She was in a panic about water. Because one drop of water had fallen from my brow onto the ballot, she was beside herself.

It was a small drop, it was near the bottom but not on the feeding edge of the page, and I pushed off with my thumb, but she was wide-eyed. It seems that an hour before a ballot with a soaked corner had jammed in a machine.

She went on, her voice getting higher and breathing shallower. Another worker came over, looked at the ballot and said that it was a tiny bit of water and certainly wasn't on the corner.

She continued. I suspect that this is why Scientology is still successful. This woman had been engrammed. If something bad happened one time, woe forever!

Eventually, I lost patience. I told her that because it happened once before, it didn't mean it was going to happen every time. She immediately yelled, "Yes, it does." I drew on the words of the other worker to note that the conditions were not identical, that we couldn't reasonably go from specific to general to another specific. She'd have none of that. This ballot, she asserted, definitely would clog the machine.

My subtlety exhausted, I nudged the ballot. The box safely ingested it. I bit my tongue, thanked her and left, feeling glad that I don't have to deal with her regularly.

Wowsers, who would have thought that poll watching would be such a high stress avocation?

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