…I know that tomorrow I will not vote. It is not something I yet care to do and have nought of an inclination to explain it to any man. I understand the value of the vote and that so many died that I might have it. But they didn’t have a clue as to what my X would mean at the time and so I am forgiven, armed with knowledge my forefathers and foremothers didn’t have (even if only by my own self).
Nevertheless, to honour them and the freedom I have to choose not to vote, I have worked for every election and referendum since I reached majority and returned to home shores.
What I have gained from working in the electoral system…
…a knowledge that, in spite of popular belief, there are servants of the people who really believe in what they do and do it selflessly, evenly, ploddingly, thoroughly, efficiently and well in the Civil Service. There is pride in our team, in our integrity, and it is an honour to work with this group. We are banded together from all parts of Cayman society, not all of us publicly employed other than for this team, but we are led by seasoned old vets of the Service.
Nothing brings people together like public service. There is a spirit of seriousness mixed with jovial Caymanian sense of humour that reminds me of days gone by when I knew nothing other than how to be Caymanian. Now, a little more worldly and travelled, cultured, careworn and jaded, the reminder warms me as I work with many who will never know anything else.
Civil Servants are expected to know very little about how my private sector world works, and I admittedly know very little about the realities of theirs. I get a peek into the beaurocratic systems of management and almost socialist-smelling (and definitely socialized) rules like treating everyone the same and talking slowly with long pauses and a fear of the microphone for hours and I realize… this would never do in my office. BUT I also realize that my swift decision-making and high-handedness would absolutely never do in their world either. I tip my hat to the other side of the fence and am able to accept that our differences are what make them good at what they do and me good at what I do.
There is a familiarity to the scenes around me- the shirts with the Coat of Arms, the smell of the public school walkways all rust and chewed-up red erasers, the government issue ballpoint pens that we write with, the obvious security presence, the monotone of the speeches in training, the class clown in the back (sometimes me) and the mix of people from all walks of life in this team that take me back to public school. I left public school with loads of street cred, no less than 4 convicted murderers in my high school class, and loads of petty criminals and knocked up teenage moms along the way. There is much violence in my memory that dwarfs the days of total normal and the people that were just regular joes that made up the majority. This reminds me of the more ordinary days… with a bunch of mixed abilities and mixed backgrounds thrown into a room with just a few things in common and a lot to laugh about. It really wasn’t all bad, my schooldays. I wouldn’t go back, but I can now appreciate it with this experience like school days without age limits and without violence.
I love when things are done right. And so, even if I care not to participate in the content, I am happy to be part of the context. Democracy fascinates me – not in a fanatical way that others find it fit to die for, but in the way a difficult puzzle fascinates a child with special abilities and keeps them in its thrall for hours. I am under no illusions about its limitations, but I am pleased to be part of it. And I am honoured to take part alongside a group of people who, for reasons of their own, are just as dedicated to doing it right.
Another time I will tell you of my scariest election moment during which I was sure I had seen a man die. But for now I must have my rest. I am just recovering from the latest drowning and have a full Referendum Day tomorrow. I pray my Homeland stays safe, peaceful, and holds on to her integrity throughout.