Judge, Jury, and Executioner

I do not ever need to be a judge.
Today, Lee and I judged floats for a 4-H parade in Pembroke. There were 8 floats, and we had to walk around them looking very judge-y with a clipboard, scoring them on various categories.
There were a few floats you could tell weren’t in it to win. They threw some hay on a trailer and voila. But there were several pretty good ones that you knew took effort.
Once finished examining the floats, Lee and I averaged our scores. My favorite float was the first place winner, and for that I was relieved. But 2nd and 3rd place were much trickier. We hadn’t scored the same way on a few of them. But we stuck to our averaged figures, and declared the winners.
On the way home, we made the mistake of discussing the entries. After more thought, we decided we might have chosen wrongly. And of course, I could imagine how hard everyone had worked, and the people who designed the floats that didn’t win were surely crushed. I was guilt-ridden. I wanted to turn the car around and declare a mistrial.
I’ve done this before. I judged a speech competition along with a friend, and it was heart-breaking. One of the kids who didn’t win came up to me afterward to ask why. I tried to give him lots of words of praise along with some constructive criticism, and he burst into tears. I will never forget that. He probably doesn’t even remember, but I do.
From now on, if I have to judge anything, I’ll just give everyone a blue ribbon. Much easier that way.