Friday, October 22, 2004

Burnout, and timeout

I seem to have misplaced the rosy-colored glasses through which I was looking at things the other day. Might have something to do with the 820 absentee ballot requests I processed and delivered yesterday. After encouraging people to fill out these forms, we promptly turned around and are now encourage them to vote early, with the result that we are creating more work for the already demonstrably strapped SOE, and preventing the people who really need those ballots because they are homebound from receiving them promptly. I recognize that my attitude toward our efforts is as inconsistent as the polls have been in these past months! Part of it sheer fatigue. I admitted complete defeat by exhaustion and went to bed at 10:30 last night. I felt rested when I awoke this morning, but getting enough rest only seems to highlight the mental fatigue I’m beginning to feel in the office. My reaction to the influx of people is pretty much that of a territorial beast who feels its home turf encroached upon, which is not a good sign, considering that the chaos and numbers of people will probably increase ten-fold everyday from here on out. Robert and I are attempting to inspire, or even spur, the planning for Election Day, since we don’t have a do-over if we find ourselves unprepared.

Today we experienced a special perk (the usual perks are free doughnuts, as if working hard demands that we eat poorly, too) of a visit by Gloria Steinem. I thought that was pretty darn cool, and I’m sure I’ll manage to embellish the experience into a nice yarn for my kids and grandkids. I made sure to shake her hand. The actress Wendy something from the TV show Just Shoot Me also dropped by today, but I don’t know her from Adam, so I just went about my business. Something for everyone, I guess.

I’ve been showing up early the past few days and getting the receptionists set up. We finally seem to have enough bodies to manage the number of calls, which is nice. When I checked the voicemail at 5:30, there were only two messages, both from one guy who’d called at 8:15—well before the office opened, and just minutes after Robert had checked from the house just after 8am. So we are answering enough calls, and/or people are no longer leaving messages. It is clear that now we have an adequate system in place—but when early voting began five days ago, we were floundering. Which is why I’m hoping that we can anticipate our needs on Election Day and get it right the first time.

I may also be feeling burned out in an attempt to justify the fact that I’m going to take a few days off. A friend of mine is coming down here on Sunday and I want to enjoy his company as well as the natural beauty of this place. It is a pity to be cooped up all day in the chilly office. Despite being overrun by strip malls and never-ending highway construction (as governor when your bro is the president, there is no shortage of federal money heading your way), Florida is actually a remarkably beautiful place, with an incredible endowment of wildlife. It would have been truly something to have been here the land was not so built up. It is such a shame that cars and roads dominate this place. I can understand why the climate is such a draw, but the beauty of this place seems spoiled by so much driving and sprawl.

I’ll be taking a break as the whirlwind of activity intensifies. John Edwards was here today, Hillary Clinton is here tomorrow, John Kerry is here on Sunday, Al Gore is here on Monday, and Bill Clinton on Tuesday. Welcome to Florida, where even if they can’t count your vote, both sides want you to cast it.

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