I found myself about halfway through a 15-hour shift. Admittedly, the job had gotten more than a little monotonous. Maybe that’s why I didn’t realize the pattern I’d slipped into.
I recently worked an election day in my home state of Michigan. I enjoy having the opportunity to serve my community in this small way. Every time, I remember my sweet aunt, who worked the elections in her own Kansas precinct for more than two decades. Also the basement of the small country church in rural Missouri where I cast my first vote at 18. The faces that greeted me in those early years of voting didn’t have to ask for my ID. They’d watched me grow up. We attended church together. They were the adult volunteers in my local 4-H club.
Indeed, when I work the elections for my township, I count myself among fine company. Our days start about six in the morning. Polls open at seven. For the next twelve hours, we have a steady stream of responsible citizens who spend a few minutes of their day with us.
Please fill out the form first.
Can I see your picture ID?
You may find an empty booth and use the pen there to color in your ballot selections. Make sure you fully shade in the circle.
On and on it goes. We do get small breaks and it’s fun to graze on all the snacks we’ve brought in for the day. One lady in our community even makes a secret family bread recipe and always delivers it to us about 5 o’clock.
You start to feel like you’re on repeat though. At times, there are lulls and you find yourself running out of small talk topics.
For this particular election, I was the last person each voter would see before going back to their day.
Are you all set? Pull the ballot away from the privacy folder just enough that the machine can grab it and your vote will be tallied.
Once they’d completed this task, I’d offer them a sticker. You know the one. We see them all over social media on election days.
By about four in the afternoon, I’d explained the balloting machine process about 400 times. Ultimately all the ballots got fed into the machine and were counted. Though sometimes the ballots wouldn’t go in on the first attempt and we’d have to work on an individual’s process a bit. When this happened, after he or she finally fed the ballot successfully, I got into the habit of saying,
Good job! Immediately followed by Want a sticker?
A fellow volunteer caught me saying this several times in a row and she cracked up.
You can tell you’re a mom! Hey, Good Job! Want a sticker? It sounds like you’re potty training a toddler.
Now, it’s become a running joke when we see each other. We had dinner the other night. She took a bite of the cole slaw I’d made.
Hey, good job! Want a sticker?
It all got me thinking though. As far as words of encouragement go, I’ll take it. I’ll keep giving it too.
So, to all you moms out there who set the alarm clock entirely too early every morning and pack the lunches, double-check the backpacks for homework and a snack. Those of you who then get yourselves ready for your own day of work. You drive around in your mini vans with month-old fast food fries ground into the floor and seats stained with sticky juice. My own vehicle used to literally have stickers on the back of the front seat, thanks to my daughter’s attempt at decorating. No matter what your day entails, you greet your children with a smile when everyone finally gets home for the evening. Dinner, homework, 15 minutes of reading per child. Bedtime can’t come soon enough.
It becomes a bit monotonous. You can feel like you’ve already done this 300 (er, 3,000) times before. Fifteen hour days are nothing for you. It all counts and you’re so very important.
From the bottom of my heart, I just want to tell you moms,
Hey, good job! Want a sticker?