I got at the polling station at around 7.It was a station in our constituency but a different ward from mine.I had never been there before. We were supposed to start at 7 but couldn’t because we were last to be dropped by our transportation. We hadn’t slept the whole night getting the material ready for the nominations. We were sleepy, tired , in need of a shower and some nice breakfast but already late for work.
My colleague and I got to work real fast. Our clerks made it early and had already set the room up. We still had to catch some new clerks up with the process, acquaint ourselves with various stakeholders and get started. There was already a line of people waiting when we got there. There was no time to have a break. Our day had begun.
When you are working such a job people expect you to have all the answers. The truth is you rarely do but have to act like it. Its the difference between peace and total chaos. You realize that there’s only a thin line between the said peace and chaos. My best bit of all during the entire day was having old men and women who couldn’t read, write or see well ask for my assistance. When they were through and you had ticked whoever they desired their gratitude was so genuine it made the fatigue worth it. The realization of the levels of illiteracy was a crushing one to say the least. I’m talking middle age village women who had no chance to attend a classroom and could therefore not carry out the exercise unattended.
I spent around 14 hours in that polling station. I learnt Probably much more than my 23 years combined. A lesson in humility, patience, team work, tolerance and toughness. The agents loved our team. Which is saying something since they are ready to burn you the minute things go south. I wish there had been more organization though. Maybe the exercise would have been less exhausting but we all need to get out of our comfort zones, get challenged and see life through other people’s eyes.
I and many others did not sleep for two nights straight. We did not have proper meals for that period of time but now I know people have it worse. They don’t get paid to do it, they don’t wish it, its just their reality. Mine was short lived and I eventually went home. I had a shower, had a meal and slept in a cosy bed. I would not want to be in a polling station often. Its not the kind of job that’s healthy for you. But it is the kind of job every citizen should take up once in their life. If only to experience exactly what happens and to be less quick to judge and point fingers.