Monday, September 21, 1998

Elect This, Mister

This past Tuesday I woke up at 4:30 in the freaking a.m. to participate in the State Primary. For a former election official the day brought some bittersweet feelings. You work hard and prepare for the day for over half a year and then you find you can't experience the final fruits of your efforts. Frustrating. Damn frustrating.

I did stay involved as I worked the day for a vendor of election equipment and ballots. I was given the assignment of driving around mostly northern Hennepin County (Brooklyn Park, Brooklyn Center, Maple Grove, Plymouth, Medina, St. Louis Park, Golden Valley, New Hope, and Richfield) going out to polling places to make sure things were going smoothly.

And bless the Lord, things actually did go somewhat smoothly in the area I covered (Dakota County had a major catastrophe with their ballots- and had to have 30,000 reprinted on election day). I repaired just two defective voting machines and had to swap out three others. My arrival at the trouble precincts was a bit nerve racking. First they were glad to see little techie boy come out but quickly the looks of frustration tore into me- frustration of having lines of voters (well, if anything during a 20% Primary turnout can actually be called a line) and having a bum piece of equipment that won't accept ballots. I put on my best customer service smile and did my best to be courteous, effective and efficient.

It was enjoyable to be involved and I got to spend the evening, night and wee hours of the morning at the Hennepin County Government Center with the guru of Minnesota elections, and with my most fun friend to keep me company, on my toes, and slightly agitated. (I finally got to meet my friend's ex-husband who continues the trend of all my female friends having ex-boyfriends or husbands who could squash me with their thumbs. Which means next I am scheduled to be dating the former Mrs. McGwire.) Of course none of the candidates I voted for actually won their contests but it wasn't like I was passionate about any of them anyway.

I also learned that my growing agoraphobia is a recent neurosis (when you accumulate as many as me, it's hard to remember when things were otherwise). I actually enjoyed being out and about during the day. It was a sunny day driving around with no particular destination in mind- only occasionally interrupted by a call on my rented cell phone telling me to head to a certain location. I remembered once upon a time I really did like the adventure of the road.

That was until Saturday. I would have to say that nobody had a worse Saturday than me including our woebegone President. I was in St. Cloud during the day doing some contract work for the election vendor. I headed home into the darkening skies to the east. During a torrential downpour with hazardous driving conditions, I got a flat tire. I pulled off a nearby exit and under a covered gas station. I put some of that inflating goop in the tire and started to head off. I backed up right into a parked pickup truck. The man got out and looked at his bent fender and was none too pleased. I gave him my insurance information and got back on the highway none too soon. I didn't know how long my tire would last so I wanted to get as close to home as possible without speeding for fear my tire would give out as I was going over sixty on the wet pavement. I could just picture getting a speeding ticket to complete my trifecta.

I got to north Minneapolis when my tire went flat again. I pulled off on to a side street trying to find a convenience store (it must have been the only block in the Twin Cities area without a SA). The skies really opened up and water was pelting the hood of my now tricycle like car. I got out between the gusts of rainfall and jacked up the flat side. I was tired, drenched, cold, cranky, and a bit worried. I finally got my cheap little jack up far enough where the tire was off the ground. I then tried to loosen the lug nuts. They wouldn't budge. I was frustrated enough to risk a hernia but I soon reached a point where I realized I needed to figure out another plan. So I went to the house I was in front of (with multiple political signs all around- I figured if the people who lived there were so politically conscious- they might be willing to help out) and sheepishly knocked on the door.

A little, quiet, elderly woman answered looking quite worried. I tried my best to be presentable but there was no way I could erase the scowl on my face from a long week and heck of a day. I had to look a tad frightful but I tried to be as genuine as I could. I asked if she would call AAA for me, as I handed her my card. She agreed, disappeared into the house as I realized she would never be able to figure out AAA's automated voice mail system. Sure enough a few minutes later she reappeared, let me in the house and told me I could make the call. So I did. The operator was very polite and reassuring. She told me someone would be out shortly. My equally weary and drenched tow truck driver arrived to loosen my lug nuts and I was on my way home, never to leave again.

No comments: