Today I saw a news story that Gov. Wolf has declared this weekend 1-4-3 Day, a tradition he started in 2019 in memory of Fred Rogers. And this seems in particular need at the moment. Over the last week I’ve heard from a few different people in Garden City that work in different fields that people are increasingly being nasty to public-facing service workers – a nurse, a waitress, and several of our election workers. I’ve seen it myself at the county’s vaccination clinics. Its thankfully rare, but every now and then someone yells at the volunteers giving away free medicine to save our community.
On Election Day, one guy in particular stood out. He stormed in and yelled at everyone – the greeters, the election workers, people that just happened to be nearby – blaming us for his voter registration not having been updated to his new address in the next town over. He was absolutely furious at this inconvenience, raging all the way to his car. He was furious at people that had no control over the state of his voter registration. Compare this to the stories I heard last year from voters driving hundreds of miles to get to their precinct to vote on Election Day because their mail-in ballot never arrived and being glad they’d made it.
A lot of businesses are having trouble hiring, nurses are in high demand, and finding people willing and able to serve at the polls is always a challenge in odd years. And given this poor behavior becoming more common – plus the risks of Covid and challenges of finding affordable childcare – is it any surprise people are hesitant to engage with the public when they’re likely to be treated like this?
It seems people’s patience and grace is wearing thin as we reach a new stage of the pandemic. So maybe 1-4-3 day comes at a good time.