Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Where are your manners?

Oh the irony of this post...I'm about to go on a rant about manners
I'm all on my soapbox--sentences and words are running rampant in my head.
Until I re-visited the content of my last entry.
So, forgive me in the knowledge that it's a blog. It's mine. And let's all just move on...

To begin, I will tell you that I've completely overbooked this week. At this moment I'm sitting in a living room devoid of furniture save the recliner I now occupy. Because, as if I didn't have another thing going on, we are having the carpets shampooed tomorrow.

Into that mix, lets add the fact that Sam yesterday found out he fractured a bone in his lower  back two weeks ago when he fell off a ladder. Yes, that's right, while we were at Mayo for his esophageal issues, he could hardly walk, sit, lay down or sleep. But that will be another story for another time.

Yesterday I served as head election judge for the school district referendum vote. Six weeks ago when I was asked to serve, I readily agreed. I've done it before, knew the other judges were capable and feel it is a valuable service to the community.

I now know that some citizens view elections and those of us who are there to earn our whopping $8.00 per hour differently.

Is is the table? Does that form enough of a barrier that some individuals find themselves feeling empowered to unload their frustrations with no thought to the reality that we are only there to hand them a piece of paper and count them at the end of the night?

It started before the voters even arrived, when another judge shared a confrontational encounter she had earlier in the day with a member of the community questioning who chose the judges and that those of us serving did not represent an acceptable demographic cross-section of the community. At which point I do believe I actually snorted.

Here's your Winnebago demographic:
You either live in town or you don't
You either wear clothing bearing the name of a bar, service organization, or sports team or your jacket says Carharrt.
You either trust and support the local governmental officials or believe that they are buffoons who will end up indicted or impeached.

A few people showed up to vote who didn't live in the school district. One guy would not leave--even after I unrolled my ginormous school district map that clearly showed his home to be in a neighboring district.

One gentlemen entered the room dressed from head to toe in camouflage deer-hunting attire. Obviously irate at having been forced to leave his deer stand before sundown to cast his vote, he launched into a 15 minute tirade about the voting hours, necessity of the vote, why this vote was taking place in a non-election year and the fact that he still had to get home, get cleaned up and attend a choir concert. We thought it was over when he disappeared into the voting booth, but he emerged and re-visited each and every point of his diatribe.

This is a man who has no regular job.

Another prominent community member came to vote and proceeded to boisterously complain to my fellow-judge in a completely rude and inappropriate manner about a situation involving a board on which she serves.

We were all relieved to lock the door at 8 pm.

The whole experience was exhausting and really has me thinking about where and when it's appropriate to be rude and confrontational. It's easy to vent and unload on someone from whom we are separated by a table, counter, car window, phone or computer screen.

And I will admit I'm often guilty of doing that very thing.

But I'm really wondering when rudeness replaced civility. Thumper's mother knew  best when she gave him this advice, "If you can't say something nice, say nothing at all."

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