X Marks the Spot

Cai poses for his screen test.
This entry was written on Saturday morning, because there won’t be any time on Tuesday when I work a thirteen-hour shift. Please think warm thoughts about Themarvelousinnature, because she’ll be doing the same thing.

E.g. talked me into calling Elections Canada to see if there was still poll station work available on election day. There was. I was asked to come to a three-hour training session. I did.

The training session was for poll clerks (PC) and deputy returning officers (DRO), the two people who sit at the table with the ballot box on it. The DRO is the one in charge, while the PC draws lines through names on the electoral list and other assistant-type duties. Since I’ve never worked an election before, I would be a poll clerk.

Or would I? I waited all week for some news about what station I would be working at, and finally concluded that they wouldn’t need me after all. Maybe my instructor didn’t appreciate my evaluation-sheet critique of his pedagogy.


At suppertime last night, Elections Canada called. They already had enough poll clerks. I therefore had two options:

  1. Show up at the office at 08 00 in case anyone canceled — if no one did, I would be paid for two hours; or
  2. work as a DRO.

I am ashamed to say that I actually hesitated. Despite the fact that, in order to work at an election, you need no greater qualifications than legal adulthood, I was worried about trying on the managerial position. Soon enough, however, I realized that I would be able to someday use this tale in a job interview. I’m responsible! I perceived a need and filled it! I was promoted on my first day! I wasn’t the sniveling crumpled heap sitting in this interviewee chair!

And besides, the DRO position pays an extra thirty bucks.

So the caller gave me my station number, and asked me if I could come that evening before 20 30 to pick up my station’s ballot box? I could.

What’s even better, E.g. came with me. We took the car, and parked in the parking garage south of Ryerson U. A few blocks farther south is the elections office from which we exited, E.g. carrying the polling screen and I carrying the ballot box.

I threw my jacket over the box as we settled into a booth at Johnny Rockets for supper. Apparently this restaurant is part of a 22-year-old American chain, but neither of us had heard of it before. It was great!  One server drew a ketchup smiley face on a plate for our onion-ring-dipping delight, and three others line-danced to a 70s disco tune.

That was Friday night. Today is Tuesday, and I’m in a gymanasium somewhere with 11 other polling stations and waves of people, and I’m smiling and repeating instructions to an endless string of voters and doing very well at it. I hope. Wish me luck.

9 Responses to X Marks the Spot

  1. goodbear says:

    cool! how exciting!!!
    i loved johnny rockets’ malts! haven’t had one in forever. yum!

  2. Alyson says:

    Luck! Think of it as paid people watching!

  3. Good luck at the polls! I’ve never been to Johnny Rockets because there’s always a line out the door and I hate waiting in line. (That’s why I vote permanent absentee!)

  4. lavenderbay says:

    It was pretty cool, Goodbear! Despite my practically being thrown into a sea of unfamiliar forms and envelopes, I managed to keep stuff fairly organized, and whatever I didn’t catch (mostly papers I needed to sign), my excellent poll clerk did. There’s more to the poll clerk story, but I haven’t decided yet whether I’ll write about it. Let’s just say, though, that yesterday was an experience.

    Thanks, Alyson! Because everyone who came to me was handed a goodie (a ballot), I told my poll clerk that it felt like Hallowe’en except I didn’t have to compliment anyone on their costume. My favourite part was around suppertime, when lots of people combined voting in a federal election with Fido’s daily walk; I met some very nice doggies.

  5. lavenderbay says:

    Oh, hi Dennis! Our comments have crossed in the blogosphere. Johnny Rockets was full when we walked by it the first time, but a few tables were opening up by the time we came back with the box.
    The Liberal candidate for our riding got the vote (mine included), but Harper is back in with a minority government. Shrug. The hockey anthem election was a lot more fun.

  6. themarvelousinnature says:

    Hope you had a busy but not exhausting poll day! It’s funny how the dogs seem to join their owners at the poll, I saw a number, too. In some ways I envied the poll clerks and DROs ’cause we had 6 polls and they only had to handle 1/6th of the people who came in, whereas I greeted virtually everyone, and did quite a lot of talking! On the other hand, they had to stay late and count ballots, while I got to go home. Can’t say the results were entirely unexpected, but at least it’s a minority; some of Harper’s policies worried me a bit if he were to get a majority.

  7. lavenderbay says:

    There were twelve tables at our station, Themarvelousinnature, but the turnout for each list wasn’t consistent. My station was a comfortable trickle for a newbie; the table next to us had lines of up to a dozen at a time; and the table across from us got almost no one. I consider myself lucky, neither overwhelmed nor bored.
    I hope the opposition helps to balance policy-making too. And I hope Ottawa takes note that, although they didn’t get any seats, the Green party received nearly seven per cent of the vote — and that through the citizens responsible enough to show up in what has been the lowest voter turnout ever.

  8. Gina says:

    Cai is beautiful! I’m glad you went. We had a Johnny Rocket’s but it closed. I loved their malts too and I loved the 50’s theme.

  9. lavenderbay says:

    Thanks, Gina! I’m quite pleased with this photo. And I’m glad I went, too, although 15 minutes before the polls opened I had my jacket on and was telling the supervisor that I was going home because I couldn’t work with the poll clerk. So the supervisor sent the guy away, kept me, and pulled a registration officer who became my wonderful, intelligent, warm-hearted assistant for the day. Imagine my surprise. And that’s my biggest poll day story, so I won’t bother to blog about it separately.
    I’m surprised the Johnny Rockets in Memphis didn’t work out. I would have thought the Graceland tourists would appreciate it; but maybe I’m being naiive about the volume of tourist traffic.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: