“Civil Disturbance”
by Saïd Sayrafiezadeh
from the June 19, 2023 issue of The New Yorker

This week’s story is another from Saïd Sayrafiezadeh, his eighth since 2010 when I started posting these. I’ve generally liked his stories, but at the same time I don’t remember them well. This one appears to be about some political canvassers, a few days before an election in which their candidate is losing. Tensions seem to be high, as we ease our way into the story:

We’re sitting underneath the overpass, Molly and I, lights off, motor on, staring through the windshield at the row of houses up the hill. On Molly’s lap, propped against the steering wheel, is the clipboard with the street addresses, about fifty of them, listed alongside the pertinent info—name, age, etc.—culled from the Internet and written in her perfect handwriting, evidence that she had gone to a good school in the suburbs. It’s getting dark and it’s getting cold, and neither one of us has said more than a few passive-aggressive sentences to the other, like when I thanked her for putting her window up, as if she’d done me a big favor. “You’re welcome,” she said, but she only closed it halfway. The bickering had started after we both got home from work; first we were arguing, and then we were shouting, and then she disappeared into the bedroom and slammed the door hard, emerging fifteen minutes later, composed, dressed, and ready to go. Today’s particular conflict had been set in motion by the banal—who’d left a cereal bowl in the sink—but obviously indicated a wider problem. Plus, it was compounded by the latest poll numbers, which put our candidate three points behind, with three days to go until the election.

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