Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Election Syndrome

So a strange thing happened at the office today... It sounds like the beginning of a bad joke doesn't it. But really, the whole day was weird.

I usually vote by absentee ballot, and I usually drop off my ballot in person at my polling station on election day. You see, I like being able to consult various sources and make my decisions at my leisure, but I also like being part of the political process on election day. In fact, while I was in college I used to work the polls. I highly recommend the experience.

But since I've become a 9 to 5er, I pretty much just stick to the voting. In past years, I arrive at my polling station (an elementary school), walk in, and drop off my ballot. That simple.

This year, it took me 15 minutes just to find a place to park. I walked up to the polling room and stood in a line that stretched around the school. As I was standing in line, I noticed that they (whoever "they" are) were busing people to the polling station. I mean, wow. I never noticed this in previous years. Being little miss Suzie Sunshine, I assume they were busing people regardless of how they intended to vote.

Luckily for me, a poll worker came out and scanned the line for people holding absentee ballots and we were able to walk on in and drop off the goods. While it felt awesome to vote (it's always a rush, because dudes, I take this stuff seriously), I felt a little guilty passing up all the people waiting in line. (Okay, I'll admit it, it was a little like what I imagine celebrities experience when they're whisked past the line to get in to whatever it is everyone else is waiting for. So yeah, that part felt good.)

We live in a neighborhood with a high percentage of immigrants and first generations and it really showed as I walked past the line. I may complain about the somewhat fluid rules of the road in my neighborhood, but my god that was a wonderful sight. Partly to know that far more of my neighbors are actually eligible to vote (i.e., not here illegally) than I previously thought, but mostly because we live in a place where that is even possible at all.

So the weird thing at the office. One friend at the office emailed and asked how we usually handle book donations. (We're a book publisher and we often donate books from previous seasons when we need to make room on the book shelves for new titles.) She said she was feeling overwhelmed and just need to clean out her office and clear some space to work.

Another co-worker walked into my cube carrying a manuscript I'd loaned to her some weeks back as an editorial guide. She said, she need to tidy up an make some space in her cube.

It seemed like everywhere I turned people were nesting, cleaning, rearranging, organizing, purging, and just generally putting things in order. Is it a coincidence that it also happens to be the most historic presidential election in most of our lifetimes? I don't think so. Regardless of who wins (it's Obama by the way, not that that's news to most people at this point) I think people are just ready for a new beginning and subconsciously or not they're symbolically making space for it by cleaning up the areas they have the most direct control over.

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