4 May 2018

Clerk

Yesterday. Six thirty a.m.. I manoeuvred Clint into a parking space outside a former synagogue. 

I had morphed into a poll clerk, climbing back into Clint at ten fifteen at night. A working day that lasted for almost sixteen hours. It had been the day of local elections - for a replacement city councillor and for a South Yorkshire mayor.

Most of the time I sat at a desk with a very pleasant young woman of Indian descent. We had lists in front of us. As people entered the polling station, we had to find their names on one of the lists and then add their allocated voting slip numbers to another list.

The hours seemed to pass by quickly and the young British Asian woman, the presiding officer and I got along famously. This helped a lot.

I found the list of names and addresses fascinating. About seven hundred people living in a particular Sheffield neighbourhood. You could read things into the list. There were houses of multiple occupancy, traditional homes, lonely flats and perhaps 4% of the names spoke of non-British heritage. I found Spanish, French, Italian, Sri Lankan, Iranian, Pakistani, Nigerian and Irish names. One man was called Ian Anderson like the leader of the rock band Jethro Tull - but it wasn't him.

Every person who entered the polling station was different from the next. Some came in in running or cycling gear. Some came in with small children or dogs. Some were exceedingly polite while some came in with strange challenging attitudes. Two police officers came in and the polling station inspector and a woman who complained bitterly about the location of the polling station.

In the middle of the day a partially-sighted woman came in with a very belligerent attitude. I have come across her several times before in our "Oxfam" shop. She arrives ready for a fight. She will say - "Where are the books? I can't find the books! You people do NOTHING! NOTHING FOR THE PARTIALLY SIGHTED!" And you have to calm her down by speaking quietly and kindly.

Yesterday it was the same. She was shouting the odds as soon as she had stepped over the threshold. "Mayor! MAYOR? We don't need a BLOODY MAYOR!" And she ripped up that particular polling slip in front of us, scattering the pieces on the floor like confetti. I guess she lives her whole life like that - angry from dawn till dusk.

At 10pm we closed the door and packed up the polling station - quickly putting furniture back in its place and sealing the voting boxes. Andy - the presiding officer - had to get the boxes and various documents to the counting centre but I was heading for the pub after driving Clint to his familiar parking space in front of our house.

23 comments:

  1. Polling station potpourri.

    That angry woman sounds like she's definitely made up of a sachet of chilli and other hot spices. So much energy she wastes by being angry and at odds with the world all the time.

    However, it would seem something or somethings bad in her life has/have caused her to be that way, so it is not for me to be judgmental.

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    1. "Polling station potpourri" is such a wonderful description! Bravo, Lee!

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    2. I feel rather sorry for her. As you say - so much wasted energy. We can all get angry about things but it's nice to live a generally calm and accepting way of life.

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  2. The last time I voted it was to leave the EU. I haven’t voted since. I should. But who cares if Labour or Conservatives win? Not me.

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    1. I care. Historically, the only party that has ever stood up for ordinary working people is Labour and I am right behind them Terry.

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  3. Interesting! I cannot vote in the UK (yet) but I am eager for the opportunity. Interesting about the grumpy woman. Some people just live their lives in a fog of anger!

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    1. I do believe that certain non-British nationals can vote in some of our elections. I am not sure what the qualification requirements are. You probably know more than I do.

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  4. I worked at the polls for several years, last in 2014, I think. Our county uses electronic ballots and touch-screen computers. Very interesting and somewhat challenging for the poll workers. We were paid $160 and received special training on the equipment.

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    1. We were using nineteenth century methods - paper, pencils, rulers and erasers - that kind of thing. We didn't need much training.

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  5. This post, but not only this one, shows that you have a lot of interest in humans. You're a lovely person.
    Greetings Maria x

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    1. You are making me go red Maria! To tell you the truth, I sometimes feel like an outsider, observing my fellow humans.

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  6. It is during days like you describe that makes me say, over and over again, that everybody has a wonderful story. Would that we had the time to listen to all of their stories. We would be so much richer and understanding of our fellow human beings.
    As for the crabby one....she is living her own nightmare.

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    1. Everybody has a wonderful, unique story... that is exactly how I felt about all the people I saw yesterday Donna - though some stories would be more wonderful than others.

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  7. If you enjoy the practice of observing all varieties of people a polling station is an excellent place to spend a day. I enjoy watching people while trying to be as open minded as possible for I believe we can learn much from others. I feel sorry for the angry woman. It has been said that anger is like taking poison and expecting your enemies to die.

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    1. We should never stop learning from others and never expect them to be just like us.

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  8. If more people were like you, Mr pudding, the world would be a better place.
    And nothing whatsoever to do with this post, I thought you'd like to know, to pass on to your son, my 11year old grandson chose the buffalo cauliflower recipie from my Bosh! book. We made it together and he declared it "Awesome!"😀

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    1. Yes I will tell my son but please tell your grandson that he has excellent taste!

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  9. That was a long day. I bet you enjoyed the pub visit.

    I always wonder about exceedingly angry people whether they have some dementia, either accident-related or medically-related. I can't see how someone could otherwise fail to see how much they alienate other people with their anger.

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    1. We all got angry from time to time but I bet that woman has angry outbursts every day of her life.

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  10. Interestingly, having been involved to a greater or lesser extent with elections all my professional life, I have never been a poll clerk or presiding officer.

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    1. To be a poll clerk one must be an intellectual giant Graham.

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    2. As a Returning Officer (in Scotland the R.O. is responsible for the election) I only appointed poll clerks and presiding officers who were intellectual giants of standing in the community.

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  11. I've done elections. It's a very long day but very interesting. It takes me a while to unwind when I get home. That's why you headed to the pub for a brew.

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