A walk in someone else's shoes

Sherry Farrell

We don't know what someone else's job entails, until we walk in their shoes.

I have to give state Rep. Doug Thomas a Sherry Shout Out at this very moment. It is Sunday evening and I was checking my email on my phone thinking that Doug had not responded to my most recent email about our senior resource meeting happening in two days.

As it turned out, when I checked a little deeper, it was "me" who obviously thought about writing the email in my head, but with our offices being so busy with the upcoming election, I never responded to him. I decided a call was the only way, not just an email back.

When Doug heard my voice, he said, "Don't tell me you are working in the office on a Sunday again."

He had no idea, but those words meant the world to me and I told him so. Most people have no idea that many of your town clerks and just as important, if not more, their team of assistant clerks, are working overtime with early mornings and many late nights and on weekends, too, as needed.

How could you, though, you've never been a town or city clerk or assistant clerk for that matter. I certainly had no idea either until I walked in the shoes of amazing clerks before me, like Meg Seymour and others.

So many people are working from home now and will be working from home still for months. Staying safe in their own comfy clothes, maybe getting a load of wash done or starting an evening meal. Why? So they can stay safe and protected from COVID-19.

One of my dear friends just heard on Friday that she will be working from home until June 2021, not returning to the office to keep everyone safe. Well, I can promise you that's not the world of those behind the scenes processing your absentee ballots, updating registrations, planning traffic patterns, and doing their best to gather workers that will show up in person for our general election.

Those willing to take that risk for the greater good. Not an option at all.

The fear of one person getting COVID-19 in our office means that we are shut down and that our election is shut down, too, yet we must forge on, we have no choice. It's what we do, what we take an oath to do. I pray every night that we never find out what that would be like, but it's a real possibility because we are dealing with people from all over our great towns, state and other states every day.

It's what we do with great pride, humility and honor. We do our best to take care of each other, too.

We have a great state registrar Denise Gonyer. She and I were talking about the worry that your town clerks have every three years. That being that someone will most likely decide, because they can, to run against us for a job that we love and live each day in our communities.

Talk about scary. They, too, have no idea what our positions entail or how much we love and care for the people we serve. Of course, they have every right to run and even win. How can they know what the training, studying, classes, test, and on-the-job daily training that takes place to be the very best we can be.

The thought is sure, anyone can run, why not? There is a salary involved and for most clerks, lots of health benefits and other things, too. Denise said it's because when you are doing your job well, it looks easy.

I had never heard that before. It's true, with many professions. Even being a parent or spouse. It's another time that until we walk in the shoes ourselves, we really have no idea what sleepless nights, loss of jobs and other worries really mean.

It looks easy if we are doing a good job or our best job.

For all of these candidates that are running now, many of them feel the same way. They are putting their heart into running and hoping to win, but what if voters don't come out to vote? They are exhausted, worried and I'm willing to bet having many sleepless nights, and I do know that because of experience.

The very least we can do is make sure that we are kind and polite to all candidates and their families, for goodness sake. You don't have to agree with them but be respectful.

A friend was telling me just this week that as he was picking his wife up at a rally, he witnessed a woman screaming from her truck at a group of young women that were leaving the rally.

Swearing, shaking her fist at them all because of the candidate they were supporting and children were also around. We can have no place for that. The woman did not stop until a police cruiser pulled her over. God bless our first responders!

Another thing that we must be so careful of is this new art of social media. People are very brave when all they have to do is type something and hit enter. The scary thing is it has nothing to do with education or age.

Somehow calling each other names in writing for everyone to see is accepted by a small majority but it becomes contagious. Others jump on board, type things, before even asking questions. Thank goodness I missed it, but someone I love was even referred to as a Nazi, and someone typed it to make sure others saw it. I guess to try and be an "influencer." Another new title for the decade.

We can make a difference and turn things around. Last week, when all of those strange absentee ballot applications were being sent all over our state with your town clerks' names on, lots of nasty social media was flying around the state before people even know who it was really from.

Sara Award of Londonderry found a positive spin. Sara made a Facebook post that said, "Hey, why not use those stamp-addressed envelopes with your clerk's name on it and send them a positive note, saying 'thank you' to their staff and to them for all they do?"

A COVID-19 case closed down our Town Hall for two days to the public, and it was sad to see the nasty post on social media. Not a care for those of us inside every day to take the risk to serve. The good news: there were more "Sara-isms" that we appreciated so much.

Before we judge each other, let's really try to walk in each other's shoes even just a few honest steps, look a little deeper, ask questions and do our own research, draw our own educated conclusions, and ask each other directly.

Let's promise each other to not put anything up on social media that we would not want a child to see, because you can bet they see and hear much more than we think. We will thank everyone willing to serve, and we will speak with our feet and minds and vote!

Sherry Farrell is Londonderry Town Clerk and a longtime resident of New Hampshire.

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