echo ""; echo ""; 2008 November archive at Making Fetch Happen

Votings

November 13th, 2008

All right, sickness I finally have enough work and work-related drama to push my procrastination instinct into high gear, symptoms which can only mean one thing: making some fetch while watching Murder, She Wrote. (Now that Netflix’s watch instantly is available on my mac, I may never leave the house again….)

But I digress…..where was I? Ah yes! It’s been just over a week since Election Day, which I spent happily going along with people’s assumptions that I was volunteering my time to work at the polls….which will be true until I get my $200 check on non-IRS-reported income! Cha-ching! And that for 9 hours of work and 5 hours of doing next to nothing….

I’ll start at the beginning – I arrived at 6am, met my fellow workers and started setting up. I’ll make up some names partially to preserve anonymity, and partially because I don’t remember any of them. There was Tom, the manager, who reminded me so much of my little league coach that I laughed a little every time he asked me to do something, half-expecting him to say “hustle!” or “good eye, buddy!” He apparently is a big deal – his precinct was the first in the county to report in the 2004 election, and I can see why: he runs a tight ship. The assistant managers (who apparently were promoted days before the election) were Doris, who was in charge of provisional ballots (possibly the shittiest job at the precinct – more later) and Fran, who sort of patrolled the whole time doing a little bit of everything….and then there was Paula, who I don’t think was an assistant manager but I don’t know….these three ladies were so interchangeable I had to memorize features of their clothing to remember who was who. In addition we had Trina, a younger woman who was trying her damndest to look like Sarah Palin – I almost told the manager that her glasses should not be allowed on the premises as it might be considered a form of campaigning. (unfortunately the only thing her glasses were actually campaigning for was her lazy eye, which I might not have noticed were it not so elegantly framed) There was Mary, a young, sharp woman who I think was a student somewhere…I didn’t get to talk with her nearly as much as I would have liked. There was BJ, who was so forgettable that I sat next to her for 6 hours and can’t remember what she looked like, and almost left her out of the narrative entirely! Then, finally, we had the two older ladies who I’m sure are staples of voting precincts everywhere: Dottie, the old bint who just handed out the stickers who looked so much like Ruby Romaine that I broke the no-cell-phone rule briefly to take a surreptitious photo of her, and Bev, the old black lady who was CLEARLY in charge of the whole operation. (They do rule the world!) One guy never showed up, so Dave, the technical advisor assigned to our area stayed the whole day working as a greeter. His notable contribution to the day was making the same series of jokes to voters in line ALL DAY, which although funny, got pretty damn tiresome for those of us cooped up in that room.

(BTW, I’m near the end of “A Fashionable Way to Die,” a fabulous episode set in gay Paris, and we’ve just gathered all the suspects…during the flashback to the murder, she shoots him in the left shoulder and he grabs his right….priceless!! Oh, and apparently the blackmailer was cheating on his mistress with his mistress’ daughter!! EWWWW!!!)

All right, now that we have the cast….the day started with setting everything up, which was already mostly done by the time I got there….after quickly getting re-acquainted with the computer that makes ballots on the voter cards, the polls opened and the people who had gotten in line at 5:30 made their way into the building to cast their votes – right inside the door to greet them were Bev, Trina, and Mary, who gave them forms to fill out. They then walked down to our station to get ballots from me, BJ, and Paula: I was at the end of the table, so no one could see me unless I waved like a madman…..Once they got the little cards with the ballots on them they waited in line for the voting machines, voted, and then exchanged their card for a sticker from Dottie. If anything went wrong, like their name wasn’t on the rolls or (most likely) they had requested an absentee ballot which never came, they had to talk to Doris at the provisional table….this area bred the most malcontents, especially in the morning when things were busiest. There was apparently a line around the building until about 11 or noon, and from then on people trickled in until the end of the day. Between 7 and noon I personally issued 350 ballots, and I was one of three people (although thanks to my competitve nature, I can tell you that I worked, on average, 30% faster than the ladies on my right). After noon most of us switched between the computers and the front desk with the forms – Bev “didn’t like the computers” so she stayed at the desk, and somehow Paula figured out how to just lay low and stay at the computers, which most of us agreed was by far the most fun job.

Now I’ll just describe some of the events that stuck out over the course of the day, in no particular order.

When I started working at the greeter station it had gotten pretty slow, so Bev and I were talking off and on……she kept getting up and going to the back room where had our stuff, and I couldn’t figure out why….then she mentioned that she just couldn’t “get enough of those pretztels [sic] in the back room…..whose pretztels [yes, sic] are those, anyway?” I told her that they were mine, and that I had brought for everyone. For the rest of the day, everytime I caught her eye on the way to or from the room, she smiled and said something like “mmmmmm…..pretztels!”

At one point a deaf woman came in…….Doris was over my shoulder at the time, and we got her to fill out the form, but failed to impart that she had to show one of the six acceptable forms of identification….that is, until I signed the letters I and D, which she understood and showed her driver’s license. Finally I used that knowledge for what it was intended and not just for playing hangman with a friend during church….

A common trope at the greeter’s station was to compliment a female voter’s handbag, many of which were huge and crazy. Once things got slow, this spun out into a general conversation about handbags involving most of us. (What I would have given for some “Bags and shoez, shoez and bags”)

Many people brought their young children to the voting machines, which often led to hilarious results. Children don’t generally understand the concept of a secret ballot, and were given to frequently yelling their parent’s choices in the otherwise generally quiet room. By far my favorite was the little boy who loved the way “Obama” sounded and just said it over and over. When his father finally pressed the screen the boy yelled “Vote for Obama again! Two for Obaaaama!!”

This neighborhood was mostly affluent, older Caucasians. There were, however, some hicks, a few yokels, and some straight up white trash. (I bet there were more absent teeth than absentee voters….) My favorite was the guy who came to me near the end of the day: like many people he had forgotten to write “Fulton” at the top, but unlike everyone else he had REAL trouble spelling it, even after I spelled it out one letter at a time. Then he had trouble writing his name…..well, you get the picture. If only I could have convinced him that McCain was spelled O-B-A-M-A…..

There were many hilarious errors in the voter rolls….mostly misspellings of names, which sometimes made it difficult to find people in the system….my favorites were Bernda instead of Brenda, and Quimette instead of Ouimette…….but the awkward part is that the form that everyone filled out, the form that clearly said that it was a felony to sign it if anything wasn’t accurate, had to match the voter rolls even if they were wrong. So people had to be surreptitiously given the option either to lie on the form (to be fair, most of these cases involved old addresses on the voter rolls, and they had put their newer address) or vote provisionally, which not only took longer at the precinct but involved having to go down to a county office within 48 hours to resolve the issue…..blerg. Who would choose that willingly? Some people got all high and mighty about it, but what were we supposed to tell them?

Oh, the poll watched lesbos! My, my, my….these two womyn (yeah, you know) came in around 1pm from some poll watcher advocacy group….no matter how many times they said “non-partisan” the whole thing sounded like they were just looking for trouble, and I suppose that’s their job. I only wish we could have staged something for when they returned at 5….maybe a jar of jellybeans sitting out somewhere, or a page from the Book of Mormon we using to test for literacy, or maybe a separate fastpass line for people who wanted to vote again…..I felt bad that they came all that way to find nothing!

(The next episode was wholly forgettable, as many of the Cabot Cove ones are….but check out Jessica Fletcher on facebook……she has a SHITLOAD of Italian fans! I wonder if the show has a whole other life and fanbase in Italy that rivels its American notoriety…..I’m also imagining how many fucking facebook friends Jessica would have…..and not even counting all the people she helped put away!)

Regulations strongly prohibit any political speech, clothing, etc., which was mostly pretty easy to maintain…..I managed to let a few good jokes go by unspoken to make sure they wouldn’t be construed as such. In addition, it was fairly easy to tell who people were voting for – as I said, this was a mostly affluent, older white neighborhood. So whenever Bev and I saw any African-American (most of whom were pretty young) we imperceptibly perked up, got them their forms ever so much faster, and looked at each other a little knowingly. Maybe I’m reading too much into it, but looking into her eyes I swear we were both thinking “Yes, we can!” (maybe she was just thinking “God, what a fag….”)

Speaking of typecasting voters, a young black nurse was escorting the oldest, whitest, crotchiest lady I’ve ever seen to the polls, and perhaps I don’t give the young lady enough credit, but she seemed more than slightly perturbed by the fact that she was allowing this old woman to cancel out her vote. (she made sure to point out that she had voted early, because this wasn’t her precinct……I bet it wasn’t!)

(Jessica’s currently trying to play the old helpless lady act to get some evidence: “The girls in Cabot Cove are never gonna believe that I actually talked to the man who saw the dead body!! ::shovels popcorn into mouth::” This of course assumes that even in season 3 there is one man, woman, or child in Cabot Cove that hasn’t had a dead body in their own goddamn house thanks to the murders that follow old lady Fletcher around…….maybe I’ll have to start another blog, or just a recurring segment on this one: Making Fletch Happen………)

I never could figure it out, but I think that the poll location was maybe a post-juvy school….awkward much? There was all sorts of stuff about second chances and statements of encouragement on the walls…..

There are only three roads in this area and everyone lives on them. It became a bad joke after a while……

Ah yes, the terrorist. That’s a horrible, HORRIBLE stereotype to use, especially since I think this guy was Indian….:) j/k Anyway, this guy had all sorts of problems……in the beginning of the day Tom the manager came over to me and asked me to pull a name up on the computer. When I did I noticed a purple box with an X next to his name: usually the box is gray and empty or yellow with IR (ID Required), but I’d never seen purple before! Tom then said if he came in to notify him immediately. Is the no-fly list connected to a no-vote list or something?? Who knows. Anyway sure enough the guy comes in, US passport and citizenship papers in hand. I sent him to Tom, and he sat by the provisional table, alternately waiting and filling out forms for maybe half an hour. He ended up voting provisionally, but it sounded as though for some reason it wasn’t going to go through……I never heard the whole story, but the kerfuffle it caused was unmatched for the rest of the day.

Well, almost. A charming old lady came in just after it stopped being busy, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. She had a bit of a problem (one of the typos in the voter rolls, I believe) but they eventually found her and gave her a ballot to use at the machine. After a minute she came up to me at the greeter station and said that she had put her card in, but the machine didn’t recognize it and wouldn’t give her the card back. I went over to see what would happen but the card was nowhere to be seen. I surreptitiously looked on the floor, thinking the poor dear had dropped it. Nope. The card was, indeed, nowhere to be seen. It’s impossible to push it so far into the machine as to be irretrievable, or at least, that’s what we thought. Tom came over to help, so I explained the situation and went back to my seat. Not a minute later I see Tom holding the voting machine over his head at a 45º angle and shaking it like a British nanny. No card was dislodged, even when a screwdriver was applied. It turned out that rather than putting the card in the slot, the poor dear had somehow jammed it in between the machine and its casing, where it remained unreachable for the rest of the day. Yes, the saga doesn’t end here, or even with Tom performing the dubious feat of issuing her a new ballot with the handheld encoder, thus leaving our totals only slightly off, or even with the machine being decomissioned and sent over to the corner for the rest of the day.

(OH MY GOD MRS. FUCKING PEACOCK IN AN EPISODE ABOUT NUNS!!! Eilieen Brennan can do now wrong….especially when she plays the same damn character……And guess what it’s called? “Old Habits Die Hard.” I can’t get enough of thie shit……12 seasons was not enough)

Finally the polls closed. After so many hours of so little activity, the closing hour was hilariously frenetic….after the polls closed we had to close down the computers, print three separate reports from each voting machine (two go with the memory card to the county office for the official count, and one gets posted on the door for the public – read: poll watchers – to take) and make sure everything was packed and sealed just so. Remember the machine the woman broke? Well apparently all the machines had to be broekn down in the right order, so we had to keep running over to the corner and dealing with the gimpy machine whenever we got to the empty spot it had occupied.

I think that’s about it. Civic duty never was so much fun…..and once I get that check, I’ll be a much happier man.

And I’ll never eat pretztels the same way again ;)

UPDATE: And would you believe it? Elieen Brennan did it, just like in the second ending of Clue!! (I really wanted to hear: “How did you know my name?” “The kingdom of God is at hand!”)

Preview

November 5th, 2008

Tomorrow I’ll actually sit down and write about my experience working at the polls. For now, viagra here’s the list I made late last night so I wouldn’t forget the salient points: hopefully it’ll confuse you enough to whet your appetite for my carefully crafted prose…..

pretztels

deaf girl

ruby romaine

dave my coach

fun fast computer times

handbags

kid votes twice for obama

guy who couldn’t spell fulton and had trouble with his own name

Bernda and other misspellings

testifying to typos

poll watcher lesbos

my secret pro-obama code with my co-worker

poll location was maybe post-juvy school….awkward?

old bint with the bad day who broke the machine

the terrorist

there are only three roads and everyone lives on them

the black nurse who semi-grudgingly helped the old white lady cast her ballot

If you have an umlaut in your first name, than you a crazy bitch.

November 4th, 2008

So far, cost this has been a fairly dependable life rule for me. For example, the only Jürgen I ever knew was my German professor in college – one of his claims to fame was his shirts, which would mysteriously unbutton themselves one button at a time whenever he turned to write something on the blackboard….plus there was the time he made me sight-read what turned out to be “Die Moritat von Mackie Messer” (Mack the Knife) in front of the whole class.

Mostly, though, I’m providing a break from election coverage in the form of a little gem from my favorite be-umlauted people in the whole world……

Yup, Björk. I probably don’t know as much about her as I ought to. (this being my first real exposure to her: up my alley, sure, but not exactly representative)

But enough with this. Tomorrow or Thursday I’ll be posting a long exposé about my experience working at the polls. (I promise it will be brave, haunting, and hilarious.* Preview: my co-worker asking to have some of my “prets-tuhls.” I couldn’t make this shit up.) Until then, enjoy this:


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=75WFTHpOw8Y

Her next appearance: examining the internet and marvelling at all the tubes and their WHOOOOSHINGS.

* Thank you, Jean Kerr. No one knows you but me, and all my life I will plunder your comic genius for my own sole amusement.

Call it Zubin,

November 3rd, 2008

’cause it’s so Mehta!

Get it? Because it sounds like Meta?

I forewent the LOL here ’cause I got to make this quick, meningitis gotta get up tomorrow at 5. hahahaha.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pVm_HJ_ax8o

Found here, through kottke.org. The other ones have even more meta goodness……

Really…..wait, really?

November 2nd, 2008

I just saw this and didn’t exactly believe it. But then, dentist it wasn’t so overly funny as to be obviously fake, phimosis so I was confused. Then I saw this article from the BBC, web and they say it’s real. So I think it is.

Personally, I think a joint hunting trip with Palin and Sarkozy would be a fascinating cross-cultural experience for both parties. You could also take the opportunity to make some jokes about the French demeanor, perhaps working in a joke about French military victories. (I know, I know “did you mean ‘French military defeats?’” hahaha I get it because no one else would ever use “I’m feeling lucky” except for those Google jokes. Humor!)

Don’t forget to vote if you haven’t already…..we’re almost there! I don’t know if I’m more excited about the real possibility of an Obama win or for this whole thing just being OVER. But the end of the candidates’ SNL spots and the genius of Tina Fey’s Palin does give me a bit of pause…….

Oh, and if you’ll forgive me my flights of fancy, I’m thinking of returning to an unfortunate habit…..yes the LOLs. Look, people didn’t replace the first letter of my last name with L as a joke to make my initials RL. (and if you don’t know my last name, I’ll give you a hint: it’s not Amfao. But that would be funny. Think about it……..)

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    Things. People. Places. The movers and shakers that make it happen. Fetch, that is. What's Fetch? Maybe this will help explain. Dedicated to LQ and her fierceness.