As a bit of background, I was a poll worker yesterday. Specifically, I was an Assistant Inspector for my assigned precinct. This was something that happened yesterday that (while it didn’t necessarily piss me off) it bothered me. Politics-wise, I hold to two rules:
1) I do not talk politics with strangers.
2) When working the polls, I do not -nor am I permitted to- talk politics.
So early afternoon yesterday I was working the polls. My job was looking up names, having people sign the roster, giving instructions...all that stuff. A woman (probably late 40s) comes in to vote, and while she signs the roster she starts talking about women’s suffrage. Nothing negative; if anything she was over-the-top rah-rah’ing it in a way that almost seemed....canned, for lack of a better term. (Sorry, I was up at 4:45AM yesterday and the coffee still isn’t kicked in fully this morning.) She went on for a good 30 seconds about it, and the Precinct Inspector started engaging with her about the Suffragette movie, and that’s when I politely asked to cut the conversation. I was feeling really uncomfortable with where the topic might head, given we were at the poll and my stance on talking politics with a stranger. I basically said ‘Hey, can we cut this conversation here? It’s starting to make me uncomfortable’. The woman gave me a sour look, but was quiet and went to vote.
An hour or so later, I went on my second break, and she was standing near the door. (Apparently, her son was voting, and she was waiting for him.) Immediately, she confronted me with a snotty tone, DEMANDING to know why I had asked her to be quiet. Then, without even listening to my answer, she decided to go off on how dare I ask her to stop the conversation, it was her ‘free speech’ right (yes, those two words literally left her mouth during this whole tirade) to say whatever she wanted, blah blah blah.
Me? I stayed measured (what else could I do?) I apologized to her, trying to explain I hadn’t intended to seem silencing, just that I was very uncomfortable with the conversation and where it might potentially head. That just seemed to pour gasoline on it; she ramped up even more with the ‘it’s my right to say what I want’ BS. Even more? She went from ‘you can’t tell me to be quiet’ to ‘you told me to shut up, and that’s rude. I’m normally a very polite person, blah blah blah’ when no, those words never crossed my lips when speaking to her. (Also, I love how these nasty people always insist they’re usually ‘so polite’. Ha, sure you are.) She also told me she was ‘joking around’ with it, which is a great thing to tell someone who was not comfortable with what you were saying (hint: not really).
She then snottily informed me that she ‘was waiting for [her] son, she wasn’t there to speak to me’, which I took as my cue to leave. Which was funny, because the other workers said as soon as I left for my break she went back out and sat in her car. (When I got back, she was long since gone, and my Precinct Inspector apologized that I took the brunt of the woman’s BS, and said the woman was way out of line. She would have helped, but she was on the phone with the poll worker hotline trying to help another voter.)
It was just like....really? You had someone tell you your chatter was making them uncomfortable, so you double down on the shittiness? You lambaste someone who asked you not to have a conversation that bothered them, and weren’t even rude about making the request? (I might have been a bit abrupt, but discomfort brings out that edge to me, and I certainly never told her to ‘be quiet’ or ‘shut up’.) You can’t handle that someone told you your words made them uncomfortable, so you just double down your shit behavior?
If she had calmly pulled me aside and asked why I had asked the conversation to stop, I wouldn’t be writing this post. If she had kept her head and let me explain my reasons (and actually *listened*) I wouldn’t be writing this post. Instead, she decided to be snotty and up her own ass about it, so here it is. Sigh.