By midnight, I finally got through to a volunteer. She was calm and organized, and after I reported the last of the five precincts that I had ready at hand, I told her she seemed far too competent to be involved in this debacle. She laughed and told me to get some sleep.

Then, about 1 a.m., a volunteer rang me up, barking: Where were the results from Wapello County? I blearily realized that he must be trying to verify the results, but his tone made it sound like I’d been sitting back with my feet up all night — as if I hadn’t spent the past six hours trying desperately to report them. So I stumbled over to the boxes and read them out all over again. In the morning, a couple of my chairs told me that they, too, had been woken up in the middle of the night and scolded for not reporting.

Telling a story about how long you’re on hold is like telling a story about your airport layover: It’s boring, and no one wants to hear it. And whatever rudeness came from the volunteers was probably just a reflection of the tense atmosphere they found themselves in. But I don’t understand why all our interactions felt so bizarrely accusatory.