Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Shaking Off Europe Into Election Day

It's election day here and in many parts of the country, and I am back in the office equally refreshed and exhausted from a trip to Europe.

Here, we have an Olathe School Mail Ballot election closing at noon.  Mail-ballot elections pay the postage for the voter to return ballots and typically have higher turnouts than elections at the polls.

We've noticed the turnout waning, though.

My first month on the job, we had three mail-ballot elections, and the turnout ranged from 43 to 55 percent in those elections.

In 2007 the Olathe School District had a mail-ballot election and the turnout was a smidge under 30 percent.

This election looks like it's on pace for a similar turnout.  That's good news, really, because of all the worries we've had with the post office.

Indeed, the Post Office Wow Factor just kept growing while I was out.  Mail-ballot election in full force, yet a week ago today we received 3 pieces of mail.

That's not 3 ballots--3 pieces!

12 trays of ballots were at the post office, but the carrier said he wasn't allowed to bring them, ostensibly because they weren't counted.

So, that's 12 trays we picked up that afternoon.  That's 12 trays of ballots that wouldn't have arrived by noon had that day been election day.  They've been more responsive and today called us to say they had two trays ready for either delivery or pickup, and we'll pick them up to begin processing them.

Cars have been shuffling through our parking lot all morning as persons dropped off ballots.

The city of Overland Park is meeting with us at 11, an hour before this election closes, to finalize planning for the city's October 8 mail-ballot election, and the city of Olathe is planning a separate mail-ballot election for later this year.

That's two more times this year to be frustrated sending and receiving ballots.  I feel like we represent "bread and butter," for the Post Office but I can't help but feel they'd prefer we weren't around.

It conjures a yarn.  In fact, I've come back from Europe with many yarns and yet election-time is a "no-yarn zone."

"Yarns," are those little one-off, somewhat interesting anecdotes and stories that might even have a point, but they are distractions when focused on a task.  We try to recognize when we're caught up in a yarn during an election, and bail out of the story.

Being out for a while, this week feels like a looooonnnnnnggggg Monday, so I need a yarn to get in the groove.  Here goes:

I'm a boring guy (if you've read this far into this post, you're probably not disagreeing).  My diet primarily consists of Diet Dr. Pepper and dairy, usually chocolate milk but, occasionally, when there was a Baskin-Robbins near our house, a chocolate shake.

When I'd come into the Baskin-Robbins and order a shake, it was a clear day-ruiner for the workers.  Their facial expressions and body language made the simple role of being a customer feel very uncomfortable.

During one visit, after making a shake, the worker turned around to start walking toward the cash register and he dropped the shake.  He groaned. 

"That's okay, it's not your fault," his co-worker said, icily.

Oh!  I got it.  That was MY fault.  I ordered the shake, my last one ever there, and this act of ordering something on the menu resulted in a floor mess and an angry glare towards me.  How thoughtless of me.

That Baskin-Robbins is closed now.  No surprise.  And that boring chocolate shake anecdote conjures up exactly how I feel with the Post Office.

How thoughtless of us to pump a half-million pieces of first-class mail through the system on behalf of voters and jurisdictions.  What are we thinking, disrupting them so?

Did I mention that Baskin-Robbins is now closed?