After I returned from an hour and a half of poll training last night I didn’t feel much like talking about it, though I did half joke on Facebook that the PT in the title of my last blog entry stood for “pure torture.” That was a bit of an exaggeration. For the most part, it was an interesting evening. I learned things I never knew and felt proud to play an important role in our democratic process (not to mention thinking I had an opportunity to get paid for it). I was supposed to stay three hours. But after about the one-hour point, when we had to read the “Poll Worker Oath,” I realized that my staying was futile. I would be excluded, and it wasn’t worth hanging out for the whole training session. Why? Part of the oath reads: “I do solemnly swear under the penalty of perjury that I will support the constitution of the United States of America and the constitution of the state of Ohio and its laws; that I have not been convicted of a felony….” Suddenly the rest of the oath, whatever it said, didn’t matter to me. If I thought it would’ve done any good to hang around and talk to the election people and get things worked out and me into the job I’d been promised, I would’ve done it. But instead I waited until they let us go for a five minute pee break and, without telling anyone, got the hell out of there.
I should’ve known. When I got to the Midway Mall for the training session and went to sign in, my name wasn’t on the list. But the lady working said, “Oh, that happens all the time,” and wrote me down anyway. That part of it reminded me of my Tele-tech experience back around 2007, when I’d gone through several interviews to get a Tele-tech job, was candid about my past conviction (even portraying my prison time as a positive when they asked how well I dealt with difficult people), and finally was assured I had the job. I showed up at Lorain County Community College for the first of several all day training sessions only to find my name wasn’t on their list. They had me participate anyway while they got my paperwork straightened out, and at lunch time, the instructor called me over and asked, “You’ve been convicted of a felony? A sex offense?” I told him “Yes.” Surprised to hear I’d put it on my application and talked about it in interviews, he said whoever hired me should not have done so and “I can’t use you.” I was crushed.
This time, when I discovered I couldn’t be a poll worker, I was disappointed, depressed, came home and went to bed early — but it wasn’t as crushing as Tele-tech. Maybe my skin’s a bit thicker now. Maybe it’s because this was only gonna be a one day job and, like I said, I should’ve known. Of course when I first got the poll worker gig, via phone a week or two ago, I was led to believe there were no restrictions, that as long as I was a voter registered and living in Lorain County I was eligible. I thought then that maybe I should come right out and ask specifically whether being a convicted felon (for an alleged crime in 1992) would exclude me from being a poll worker. But they didn’t ask, and I know I’m eligible to vote, and she told me I just needed to be a registered voter in Lorain County, so I figured there was no sense in making an issue of something that was apparently not an issue. Plus, it’s just plain humiliating to have to bring it up every time I try to do something like get a job or volunteer my services. It was a nice, for a change, to feel like it didn’t matter, even if I was deluding myself.
So I’m still technically unemployed. But I still have plenty of work to do. Now I need to get back to RA Washington’s Primer for the Vanguard Youth, which I meant to have published four days ago. I’ll try to get the final format tweaking, printing and collating done today so I can get them in the mail.
Thanks for reading, and for your support.
Peace, love and poetry,