Sunday, February 14, 2010


Today I was at the Marriage Factory by 8:25. We opened for business at 9:00. We only had 23 appointments set up. The press release did not show up in the papers until yesterday; so many didn't know we were open on a Sunday. Consequently we didn't have as many walk ins as in years past. I think we did close to 30 ceremonies. Last year I did 25. So slower, but fun.

The staff have fund raisers through the year to have money to decorate for special holidays. We had mixed flower arrangements all over the lobby and at the clerks' desk. We had roses in the wedding rooms and at the information desk. Hearts were hung above the desks and balloons were everywhere. I was there at 8:25, I don't know how early the clerks got there to decorate today.

We had lots of press there, papers and TV. They followed us around, took pictures, interviewed couples, and were as unobtrusive as a TV camera person can be.

One of the volunteers (let us call her Mary Poppins as a young deli worker dubbed her.) is notorious for taking 45 minutes to an hour for one wedding. We had appointments set up every 15 minutes, she can't do the job. She was not asked to help today, but showed up anyway. When she saw the camera crews outside, she all but ran out to talk to them. All day she planted herself in front of reporters and talked and talked and talked. We are all terrified to watch the news tonight and read the papers tomorrow. Mary is strange.

When Mary Poppins did do a ceremony, it was forever. Still with the 45 minute schedule. She counsels them, she prays with them, she visits with them. We are a government agency, we don't pray. And we sure as hell don't counsel couples. We do marriage ceremonies. She was told to stop praying, to get the lead out and turn the room. She did stop praying, we think. But slow, slow, slow.

The clerks who worked today were great. Some had not worked the marriage desk in several months. They rotate in the two buildings and are cross trained for everything clerks in the county do. They were up to speed immediately. They got the job done in a beautiful way. As I tell them all the time, they are not paid nearly enough.

Well done Alameda County clerks .

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