“You could drive a person crazy, you could drive a person mad.”


Sondheim was right – what’s happening now could drive a person crazy.

My therapist has counseled me that this is a particularly difficult time for many people in therapy. That people who suffer from anxiety, apprehension, unease, dread, consternation,…you know, I think she used the more common psychological term, the heebie-jeebies, are agonizing even more.

The reasons are clear and obvious: the pandemic; Covid-19; the fear of getting sick and dying; the sheltering in place; the inability to go to restaurants and movies; the lack of face-to-face socialization, the mortification when you park your car, walk to the supermarket and then, half-way there, turn around and return to the car to GET YOUR MASK! knowing that everyone else in the parking lot is watching and laughing.

On top of all this, she tells me, a deeply divided country, with entrenched points of political views, dividing friends and family, is exacerbating the angst.

But, I say, “we’re in the middle of an election. Surely, removing Donald Trump will provide some sense of relief. That civility and common sense will once again prevail, that an appropriate science-based approach to fighting the coronavirus will hasten the return to some normalcy. Won’t that help?”

And then this:

Stuart A. Thompson reported in The New York Times this morning, “…already in this election, more than 7,700 ballots have been challenged and face rejection in North Carolina. In Florida, that number is 11,900.

Wait, what? I’m depressed, I’m nervous, I’m angry all the time, I’m paying a fortune to a therapist to help me cope, and now I have to obsess over whether the signature on my mail-in-ballot matches some signature the “authorities” have on file. As Thompson reports, my vote will be “flagged because the signature on the mail-in ballot doesn’t quite match the one election officials have on file.” Quite match? A signature I have no recollection of having made. A signature being validated by whom? Has the election board hired professional handwriting analysts who are scrutinizing millions of signatures? Is there really a thing called handwriting analysis?

I mean, think about all the things about mail-in voting that contributes to our apprehension: Did I use a black ballpoint pen? Does that mean the barrel of the pen or the ink? Did I completely fill in the oblong thingy? Did I go over the lines of the oblong thingy? Did I vote for Biden as I wanted to or did I mistakenly fill in the oblong thingy for the guy running for president whose running mate is named “Spike” Cohen? Why did they use an oblong, not a circle? Did I put the ballot into the privacy sleeve? Do I have the privacy sleeve? Was the envelope sealed properly? Did my “suspect” signature overlap the envelope seal enough?………………………

Sorry for the interruption. I had to stop for a while; my hands started shaking so much I had to take a Xanax. But I’m OK now. Thanks for the caring and well wishes.

But at least during the short interruption, while the pill was taking effect, I had some time to find some solace from my favorite Talmudic scholar Rabbi Menachem Moishe Mendel Mendelsson. The Rabbi’s counsel:

“Oy gevalt!”

Published by Ted Block

Ted Block is a veteran “Mad Man,” having spent 45+ years in the advertising industry. During his career, he was media director of several advertising agencies, including Benton & Bowles in New York and Foote, Cone and Belding in San Francisco; account management director on clients as varied as Clorox, Levi’s and the California Raisin Advisory Board (yes, Ted was responsible for the California Dancing Raisins campaign); and regional director for Asia based in Tokyo for Foote, Cone where he was also the founding president of FCB’s Japanese operations. Ted holds a Bachelor’s degree in communications from Queens College and, before starting in advertising, served on active duty as an officer on USS McCloy (DE-1038) in the U.S. Navy. Besides writing Around the Block, Ted is also a guest columnist for the Palm Beach Post.

3 thoughts on ““You could drive a person crazy, you could drive a person mad.”

  1. It would be funny if it wasn’t so pertinent. I don’t expect that problem here in California but I did think about it. Did i use my initial when I signed all those years ago. Did I scribble a little, am I scribbling now? etc, etc. This country has gone crazy and we are not going to heal any time soon. No matter who wins we are in for a , I can’t even find the correct word for what we are in form. So I leave it blank________



    1. The problem in California might not be signature matching, but it sure as hell could be phony drop-off boxes.

      Paraphrasing the famous opening line in the ’50’s TV show, Naked City, “There are seven million ways the GOP can cheat their way to an election win…these have been two of them!”


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