Ryan Slabaugh: Headaches and cotton mouth, or the day after the election
October 30, 2008
On Wednesday, the day after the election, the new president should declare it a holiday. A day when we can all sit down, take a deep breath, and forget what happened the past few months. We’ll call it, “Recovery Day.”
On this holiday, we should all get the day off from work to enjoy the sudden peace and quiet. While some of us could spend the day plucking yard signs, the rest of us should just lie down and listen very closely. Hear that? Nothing, other than crickets and tumbleweeds. The creak of an abandoned rocking chair.
Now, repeat after me: “Aaaaah.”
Locally, the elections have been long and drawn out. Dozens of candidates for a number of boards and councils positioned and bartered as to why they are the most qualified for a low-paying, no glory job.
The school board and PUDs are changing. Truckee’s council is flipping over. One measure is asking for millions for our schools. Another’s asking us to improve our roads. If you haven’t voted, be prepared for a lengthy ballot, a multiple choice quiz that requires registration and a valid ID.
Statewide, we have issues ranging from animal cruelty to gay marriage. Nationally, no matter who wins the White House, a glass ceiling will shatter. Congress may see an unprecedented partisan shift. On Tuesday, the election will be the most important decisions we make.
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But we shouldn’t care on Wednesday. Nope. While we stare at the clouds, we should just sift through the conversations we’ve had the past few months and wonder, “Where did we unrealistically pin our hopes? Now that that’s over, are our lives really better, or worse?”
But first, we have to get through Tuesday night. And there is no better place to weather an election than in a newsroom. Here at the Sun, we’ll be grinding gears until 3 a.m., hounding vote counters like a back seat full of children. Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Are we there yet? The Sun had an election meeting this week, where we planned for chaos, late results and our Web site to crash ” yet, if you’ll excuse the shameless plug, it still will be the only place to find all the results that will directly affect your life. It feels good knowing that.
In this business, we live for this moment. We track precincts like gamblers track horse races. Except, at the end of the night, journalists are always beaten, trampled by the hurry-up-and-wait excitement that turns, eventually, into the anticlimactic ink on the page.
Then, if we’re lucky, we sleep. We wake up in the morning in a community that has voted itself different, that has taken a medicine and now waits for it to take effect.
On “Recovery Day,” the world should rest. Restaurants should ask us to cook our own food. Starbucks should serve instant coffee. The cops and firefighters should go surfing. Our newspaper should be filled with pretty pictures and crossword puzzles. Life can always go back to normal on Thursday, right?
During one election night a few years ago at a different paper in a different town, a commissioner stumbled into the newsroom after the results were announced. His speech was slurred. His breath smelled of barley. He asked one of our reporters on a date.
After we removed him, we motored on with our stories and photos and web updates. It wasn’t until the next morning when I realized what had just happened. He called me to apologize, and we had a good laugh. At the time, I hadn’t even considered his drunken advances and awkward behavior that odd.
After all, I told the hungover official, we could all relate. It was election night.
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