Monday, September 11, 2006

Waving at Strangers

The other day we got an e-mail telling us that MasterBuilders was arranging for "get out the vote" work, and we responded. It turned out that the work they assigned us was to hold signs at major intersections in Marysville--for two judicial candidates. They pay us to hold the signs--a nice opportunity, since Gary's been out of work a while--for five hours a day all but Sunday. And little do they know, we probably would have done some of it for free. Maybe not so many hours though.
I am happy to hold these signs; they're good candidates and I like the work. I like standing with signs and waving at people; Katie said we were being paid to "people-watch." Still, we did it five hours today and my frame is old and very tired. Gary went into Home Depot afterward and I wanted to stay in the car. By the time they came out, I was very fast asleep, and Gary knocked on the window to wake me up. I was startled into wakefulness and we went home.
I was personally amazed at how many people would smile and wave back at us. It heartens me, when so often I ponder the coldness of American society, the type of coldness that gets in the news or breaks down neighborhood and family relations, the type of coldness that causes people to be skeptical about God. Today I saw an innocent side of people. I'm pretty sure they didn't know whether they liked the candidate or not, as the judicial candidates seem to be more cloaked in mystery. Still, they waved like little kids.
Now the little kids, that was another matter. Buses would go by, and we'd wave at the buses. Most of the kids would stare at us and wonder at these adults waving like mad at them. The more they stared the more I waved. It was kind of fun just to show them how ridiculously unresponsive they were. I said, "Good morning!" The funny thing was, out of three buses, the rider over the back wheel would wave; maybe one other, but that one would for sure. Maybe he or she would be more awake because of the awkward seating or maybe a bit nicer person takes that kind of seat.
It makes me wonder. Are the kids becoming more cynical and more cold than the adults? It could be. I hope not.
It was fun to watch Tim. He pulled out our little cooler and sat on it holding his sign. I thought that was okay, since they're not paying him. And when he stood up, he held the sign with more energy than the rest of us combined and got more smiles and I'm sure amused more people than we did. He called me across the street on Gary's cell phone about 5 times, making sure of various things.
Another thing I found. Katie had to leave about 15 minutes early. Gary and Tim were on the other side of the street. After Katie left, not many people waved at this old lady. Maybe it was a coincidence. On the other hand, maybe some of their waving wasn't so innocent after all. I did tell Katie when she was with me that this was odd, that I was okay with her waving at who-knows-how-many strange men (and some were quite strange) passing by on their way to and from work. And she and I both noted that the younger women didn't always seem to like her waving when their husbands or boyfriends were driving; the older women were usually okay with it. Just some interesting observations.

4 comments:

theGracegirl said...

Twasn't my charm, mom! When you left to help Tim for a minute, people weren't as warm at all. I think teamwork really helps! We have to show a unified front. :) Love you!

J.OTIS MERSTER said...

I'll make sure and wave at any neighborhood sign holders-knowing you do it reassures me that they're not hating their job and envying motorists with disdain. I live in a rapidly developing town, and it is illegal to leave an unattended sign on a corner, so every weekend has a person waving, and sometimes dancing with, a sign on every corner.
I'm glad you enjoyed waving at people-I would have, too, so it goes to show that I'm not crazy.
I do think, as urban sprawl sprawls, and people drive into their driveways and push a button to open the garage door, and then enter the house via the garage, without ever seeing the neighbors, that the younger generation thinks this is the way it's supposed to be, living in complete isolation and anonymity.

NeverAlone said...

JenM,
I think it's a nice idea to have unattended signs be illegal. They look trashy as they populate the landscape and tip over; and any lousy candidate can put up lots of them. It's getting people who are willing to stand out there (especially if they're volunteers--gulp) that really shows some backing.
Never thought of disdaining the people; still, it's interesting watching the variety!
And I'm not sure it assures that you're not crazy--just that you've got company. I feel proud to join you, though!

J.OTIS MERSTER said...

Thanks.
But just to clarify, the signs on all our corners down here aren't for political candidates or policies-they're ads for cell phone carriers, and mostly for new housing developements. I saw one today on the corner propped against this guy's lawn chair. It's amusing how apathetic some of the sign-holders are, and how enthusiastic others are. Who says there's no such thing as free entertainment??