It’s October 30th. The 2020 general election is in four days. And if you want to make four whole days seem closer than that, just covert the days into hours: 96 hours. That’s it? That’s it.
Sure I have general anxiety over the election, probably from lurking around on Reddit for too many hours each day. The famously left-leaning r/politics sub has me feeling there’ll be about a 50% chance of some civil unrest, or heaven forbid a full fucking civil war, and as much as I think this won’t happen — and might not even be likely to happen — knowing that the country seems to be in a pressure cooker social environment doesn’t make my anxiety-prone self feel any better about the situation.
Worst case scenario? Who cares. I can always stay inside, hunker down, make adjustments to my stock holdings as needed, and not involve myself with whatever actually happens. You know, go to work like normal, drink beer, drink coffee, play video games, write, and eat food like normal. Even if everything does go off the rails it doesn’t have to involve me.
That’s my general anxiety over the next few weeks that seems to be hauling towards us, for better or for worse, like a train zipping down the rails. But my anxiety is a bit more acute because I volunteered to be an election judge this year.
I’ve never been an election judge before and I really don’t know why I signed up two months ago. I mean I know what happened two months ago but it doesn’t makes sense now. I wanted to do something crazy to serve democracy. To help the election. To feel like I’m doing something instead of sitting on my ass in perhaps the most important election in my lifetime. With all the old people (who usually serve at polls from what I’ve witnessed) being at high-risk for COVID, and maybe not wanting to volunteer this year, I assumed there might be a need for younger people like myself to serve. We can’t rely on old poll workers forever because they’ll eventually die; someone has to take up the job. To take charge of what needs to happen instead of constantly thinking “someone else will take care of it.” Elections need people to do the actual work, and why shouldn’t that be me?
So one night I got blasted drunk, printed and filled out the form, and mailed it before I could sober up and change my mind. The application to serve as an election judge was in the mail and sober Jeremy just kinda dealt with it like rain or something else totally out of my control: “Well, this is happening now, so…okay.”
Until a few weeks ago that is. I received a manilla envelope in the mail with my election assignment. It had a handbook for election judges and precinct for November 3. I would be working about a mile away from my home in a Baptist church with fellow judges Edna, Marvelene, Lisa, and Lunetta. Fuck, things were getting a bit more real for me. Worst of all, they listed the other judges’ phone numbers and written in bold, red ink saying UPON RECEIPT OF THIS ASSIGNMENT – PLEASE CONTACT THE OTHER JUDGES (PRIOR TO ELECTION DAY) TO MAKE ARRANGEMENTS FOR SET-UP OF PRECINCT ON MONDAY. It also said that THE CONTACT NAME ON THE TOP OF THIS SHEET IS THE CONTACT NAME AT THE POLLING PLACE FACILITY. ONLY ONE JUDGE NEEDS TO CONTACT THEM TO MAKE ARRANGEMENTS FOR SET-UP TIME ON MONDAY AND ENTRY INTO THE BUILDING AT 5:30 AM ELECTION MORNING.
So as of Friday — the weekend before the election — I obviously haven’t contacted any of the other judges. And as far as I know no one has tried to contact me. I do have an unlistened voicemail on my phone from a strange number, but I’m still too nervous to actually listen to it or even check the number. Maybe it’s one of them wondering if I was even in existence?
This is where all my anxiety comes from. I have to contact people — strangers — that I’ll have to work with for over twelve hours this Tuesday. It’s up to us five to actually contact each other, to contact the church, and to schedule some time to set up the precinct on Monday. How can I feel such anxiety over calling a damn phone number? Aren’t I supposed to be a fully-functioning adult? I also have to work with the general public; didn’t I learn not to do that when I worked at Sam’s Club? Why the fuck did I sign up for this? Why the fuck did August drunk-Jeremy decide this was a good idea anyways? Doesn’t drunk-Jeremy know that Jeremy, drunk or not, hates social interaction, is terrified of irregularities, and hates waking up early?
And then there’s my raging nicotine addiction. Apparently we can’t leave the polling place. How am I supposed to vape? At work I hit the thing every ten or fifteen minutes and on election day I’ll be dealing with a highly stressful situation and am going to require my nicotine! I imagine I’ll be doing something like this while trying to work out times to sneak a hit from my vape:
And…and waking up early. I don’t even fall asleep until 4 or 5 a.m. — the time I need to be at the fucking polling place — and usually don’t wake up until 2 p.m. How the hell am I supposed to manage this without making my day hell? Should I go without sleep over the weekend to tweak my sleep schedule or just YOLO a sleepless day on Election Day itself? Just jump right in a deal with my shitty situation totally sleepless and miserable.
There is a temptation to just not show up on Tuesday, but that seems like taking the coward’s way out. Just fucking do it. It’s one day. It can’t be that bad. I’ll manage. And what about all of that ‘serving democracy’ that I mentioned at the start of this post. Urgh, there’s no way this will be enjoyable at all.
This post hasn’t done anything to serve the general reader at all and I must admit it was just me writing so I feel somewhat better about the situation. It’s highly uncomfortable and I feel the need to get it out in some way or another because I’m borderline freaking out about Tuesday, not with anything to do with the election itself but for the silly situation that I put myself in for some reason. Like this whole thing goes against my entire personality and insecurities and I feel like a total idiot for getting myself into it. What was I thinking? Other people are better suited to things like this and for some reason I didn’t realize that at the time. Let the extroverts and old people deal with elections and being judges. Let them be the people to call strangers to work with and sit in a chair for over twelve hours checking signatures. I’ll just silently show up and vote and let others do the real work of democracy. It’s not for me, but apparently it is because I fucking signed up for it.
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