August 5, 2014

It’s been a while since I’ve bothered with my blog. I’ve had a hard time finding something to focus on, other than grief. Unfortunately, grief does tend to produce a lot of passion, so I ran with it the best I could when the tide was high. I’m really tired of that passion, but I have no control over it, it’s its own animal, I’m just here for the ride. I do however have something new to share.

So, I worked the Michigan state primary elections today for the first time. Actually, it was the first time I’ve ever worked the polls for any candidate. I’ve always thought about it in the past, but no one was ever really worth my time, but that changed when I found out my friend and classmate Rashida was running for state senate. I brought lots of water, coffee, and an apple, but Rashida delivered snacks, lunch, and pizza later on. I had my folding chair I use for baseball. I needed my raincoat, and an umbrella, and I brought a sweater to wear if I needed to go into the building. If in the voting area, campaign material is not allowed, and I had a T shirt on. It wasn’t a difficult job. I could either pass out literature, or maybe plug Rashida’s name to the community in some way. I did a little of both, but mostly, I simply stood in front of Shelters Elementary school in Southgate with a Rashida sign in hand, and I smiled really big and waved. Yes, you read that right, I made like the Little Caesars Pizza pusher, and owned the sidewalk.

In the beginning it seemed like such a simple task: it hardly required any physical work, I had little to no direct contact with people, and all I had to carry was a sign. I almost felt guilty for being so seemingly insignificant. I watched for oncoming cars from both direction, paid close attention to bikers, and motorcyclists, and I especially watched for walkers. They were easy engagers, because they are walking directly past me. Basically all day today, I smiled, waved, and chatted with people. I did this over the course of several hours. I walked to the end of Shelter’s sidewalk, waved, walk back the other direction, and waved again, and smiled. It was actually a happy smile. I was really enjoying what I was doing. Perhaps it was a sincere smile? Maybe this time, I didn’t have to find one. I didn’t have to pull it out of me, it came out. I smiled and waved and chatted with everyone I saw. It was mind boggling to see how many people I reached simply being kind. Actually, I was behaving kind, because I said so little to people, they were responding to the way I looked. I starting noting peoples reactions, and most of them had the same reaction, they looked at me, and smiled back. Many people waved and smiled, and I’m referring to drivers, bikers, and walkers.

Generally, most of the community was enthusiastic and happy to greet me. Sometimes, people would yell out of their car window, “Good luck Rashida!” I think they thought I was her. I really enjoyed the responses I received from kids, they immediately waved quickly, and flashed some braces back at me, or they looked at me like I was nuts for waving a sign. I became familiar with some cars, and remembered where they came from. I recognized a number of faces from my community: teachers, coaches, parents from sports programs, and I even saw some of my boys buddies driving their cars or riding their bikes past me. My community associated me with Rashida, and I wanted to help plug her into it, and that is all I had to do, because she does the rest. She is one fiercely wise beyond her years woman, and I’d work twelve hours for her all over again. Her work ethic is almost immeasurable

I cannot begin to describe the feeling I had when I received warm responses from people. It’s a beautiful thing to be a part of something infinitely bigger than anything I could want, and much bigger than myself. I want my fellow man to have peace of mind, because that’s all I want. It’s not a material object, but my goodness it’s expensive. I feel like it’s worth working for, and I’m willing to work when I see someone else working at providing other people with it, relentlessly. This is what Rashida’s does. Every time I felt even the slightest bit tired, I thought about how many hours that woman put into door knocking, or maybe I should say how many pounds. She shed a few herself from all the consistent activity. When my dogs started barking, I took my flip flops off and walked, waved, and smiled on the Shelter’s lawn where it was cool and soft. I have to say, I’m feeling grateful that this is August and not November, although someone suggested I work then as well. The weather wasn’t terrible. It rained twice, once in the morning, and once right before we wrapped it up. I met some great volunteers, and worked with some of my longtime community friends. Looking back, I’d say today was a fairly successful attempt at assisting a close friend. I can’t even call it work.