Where does it begin? And where does it end? These are real questions. I have my definition, but apparently I don’t know the answer for everyone.
Today is election day and I really must say how grateful I am that this election will finally, blessedly, be OVER today! I’m feelin’ the pain right along with Abby, that poor 4-year-old whose mother posted her crying because she’d had quite enough of “Bronco Bamma and Mitt Romney.” I hear you, kid! And I think a good portion of America is right there with you, Sweetie. It’s tough to visit Facebook these days… or Twitter, for that matter.
Celebrating this “end of Facebook and Twitter harassment” from both sides, I arose early to get to the polls to do my civic duty. Kirby and I went out for our morning constitutional – Kirby’s my dog – and I asked for his input. Marking on the left is a recommendation for a liberal vote and on the right, a conservative vote. (Oh, stop looking so shocked! I’ve researched and made my decisions already. I just wanted to see what Kirby thought about it.) Stopping to roll around in something foul that smells just too enticing to leave alone will earn him a grounding from all Facebook privileges for a week. He shared his opinions and I thanked him for his input. (No Facebook groundings today. Thank goodness!)
Feeling a bit patriotic, I had planned to don something red or blue for the day. But then I saw a few Facebook posts about wearing red for this candidate or blue for that, and I just decided to go purposefully neutral: a black-n-white houndstooth with nary a stitch of red or blue in sight. It’s not that I don’t have opinions – fairly strong opinions, truth be known – about the issues and candidates vying for our collective attentions. It’s simply that I prefer to keep my opinions to myself in these matters. Thankfully, the private ballot system agrees with me.
The line at the elementary school was long and snakey when I arrived. I was surprised and I will say kind of proud that the majority of those lined up to vote at my designated location were women! Many of them were young mothers who brought their under-school-aged children with them in a stroller or propped on a hip while they patiently waited. God Bless mothers everywhere who make the effort to do such inconveniences as part of their civic duty! They are an inspiration to me and to the rising generation. One poor kid was all bent out of shape because he didn’t get to vote. Only about 14 more years, kid.
The line was progressing at a snail’s pace, but it was progressing nonetheless. I shuffled along with the rest of my fellow civic-dutyists, playing my favorite game: people-watching. A dozen under school-age children; 28 pairs of cross-trainers; 5 pairs of hiking boots; 3 pairs of thongs (thongs? in November!); 2 pairs of heels and a beaten-up old pair of… what are those? – canvas boat shoes of some kind (and a partridge in a pear tree). I count 17 pairs of glasses; only 4 bald heads; and 9… no, make that 11… no make that 13, 14,… 15 cell phones. And there’s another one.
Ah, but that was just the warm-up. This elderly couple just exiting – I’ll call them Barb and Bob – is at odds this morning. He seems to be in great humor while she is anxious to be getting back home to their son and his family who arrived from Nebraska last night. Surely they’ll be up by now and “the house is a disaster,” according to Barb. Bob thinks it’s just fine. Barb stares daggers at her husband as he stops to chat lightly with a neighbor in the line. He, of course, is completely oblivious to her agitated state. My guess is, he has until they clear the door to hear all about it. Oh! Nope, she got him one step before they cleared the door!
And over here, a handsome college-aged youth who looks just barely old enough to be here. Black T-shirt with a dark-grey logo I can’t read. I’ll say it’s a skull of some kind. Black jeans, black shoes, and a black beanie topping off a black head of hair. I’ll call him Jaime Garcia. He stands slightly slouched to one side, looking appropriately bored and self-assured all at the same time. He’s dismayed that the hunting grounds here are so slim. “Everyone’s married with kids,” he notices as his eyes fall upon an attractive young mother. Then his eyes fall down to his pamphlet. This guy has been studying! “Dude! High five,” I want to say! But I simply smile at him instead… which he doesn’t see since he’s engrossed in his reading.
Hmmm… Come to notice it, it appears that quite a lot of people chose to go all nonconformist in their dress today. Lots of black-n-white… and denim. Just as I’m noticing this, a booming male voice pierces the low mumbles filling the gymnasium like a cannonball tearing through crepe paper. “OK everybody,” the booming male voice reverberates, “let’s get organized!” I looked for the source. It seems to me that we ARE organized. No one is line-jumping. Everyone is waiting patiently and taking their turn. What’s disorganized about this?
Then I spot him: male, early 30’s, close-cropped sandy-blonde hair, blue eyes, 5’10”, muscular build, wearing camo pants and a matching tan T-shirt that shows off his bi-n-triceps with a vengeance; big hiking boots with a thick sole that looks like they’d last through the apocalypse.
“Everybody listen up,” he thunders. “If your last name begins with A through M, form a line over here… just zig-zag it around like you’re doing now. And if your last name begins with N through Z, you’re over on this side.” He motions meaningfully with both arms like an airline attendant giving the safety promo to passengers sitting 200 yards away. “And, move!”
A mild chaos ensues. I’m thinking first of all, “Who is this guy?” I look to the people in charge and see that they are with him on this. “OK,” I think, “He is wearing camo, so he’s a public servant of some kind.” A weekend warrior, maybe? And he’s just trying to help.
But people are sheep, you know that? Individually or in small groups we can be intelligent and helpful, but in congregations like this, we are stupid sheep. “Baaaaa…” I bleat under my breath as I move over to where I approximate my new place in line should be. A handsome guy with a couple of kids smiles at me. – Of course he’s with a couple of kids! No other type of male notices me! (As in the “single” type.) We’re all milling about now in a pattern reminiscent of an oil spill, and just as organized. Mr. Weekend Warrior bellows out a few more directions without much effect. He’s getting frustrated now at our stupid sheepidity.
Some whim overtakes me and I make a deliberate, slightly mocking but playful move to create a new line. It was kind of like a toy-soldier positioning myself into place as if to say, “This is the line! Fall in!”
And they did! A whole bunch of people immediately fell in behind me without me even saying a word. Dang! I’m not even wearing camo! It’s gotta be the black-n-white houndstooth… Really! I turn my head back to see the forming line and smile at the mother with two children in a stroller right behind me. She smiles back. I make a face as if to say, “Hey! How about that,” and gesture toward the line. To which she laughs and responds, “Well, you looked like you knew what you were doing, so I followed you!”
I think about this as I notice the incongruity in the space. Apparently, morning voters are also all front-loaded in the alphabet. The line for N-Z had a whopping four people in it while the rest of us stood crunched over in the A-M queue.
As I reached the check-in desk and good-naturedly greeted the lovely volunteers, I suggested, ever-so-subtly, that perhaps they might consider changing the queues to A-G and H-Z at least for the time being. They could always reevaluate later and change them back if they needed. “Just an idea,” said I, as they passed me my card and I proceeded over to vote.
Done, and done! My civic duty is accomplished! I have voted today! I returned to give back my card and receive my prized sticker – This really is elementary school – for my job well-done. Lo and behold, to my astonishment what do I see but an evenly distributed two lines making their way to the check-in table. I checked the signs. “A-G enter here;” and the other door, “H-Z enter here.”
My civic duty. If I could solve all problems that easily, maybe I should run for public office?
P.S. – Not… on… your… LIFE!