The Story of (What I Did for) O

Tuesday, November 4th was undoubtedly, one of the most important days in the history of important days. Its aftermath would make or break the United States as we know it, and considering what we know, the vast majority of this country's citizens were looking to make history and break-up with the current White House administration. Election day. Monumental, nail-biting, extraordinary because of the response this year's voting process evoked. I got up, determined to project my voice with some measure of success this time around. Election day was particularly mild and sunny, perfect for waiting outside for hours. This is how I spent November 4th.
7:55AM - I arrived at my old polling station hoping to put one over because A) voting downtown was sooo convenient since I work down there plus there was NO line to speak of! and B) my old downtown address was listed on my ID, and I was worried voting at my new district without current address info would present a problem. Needless to say, my efforts were to no avail because I wasn't on the registration list and District 19 was not having it, so they politely told me where my new polling district was located when I told them I'd moved. "Make sure you go vote! You HAVE to do it!" one of the volunteers yelled after me. A little dejected, I decided I'd use my lunch hour to do just that.
12:30PM- I arrive at my new voting district and groaned when I saw the long line. I saw a small group heading in the same direction and so walked at a clip, taking a shortcut through some hedges, jumping right in front of them before they closed the gap. I took my place. And I waited, and waited, and waited. The facility was hot and stuffy. I smelled some sort of stench coming from inside. The more the line inched forward, the stronger and more putrid the funk got. My olfactory glands hung on for dear life, struggling not to collapse my nose. The young man in front of me started fanning his and pinching his nostrils together. The line inched forward some more. I'd been holding my breath the whole time, and made the mistake of inhaling to take in some air. The perfume was undeniable: rank breath, unwashed body, strong week old piss with a hot helping of fresh pee, dirty socks and mildew. I was awash in its aroma.
The line inched forward. I was standing directly in front of a bathroom door at this point. A volunteer made his way through the crowd, and went in. He opened the door and the smell of eau de TOILET added to the already pungent perfume swirling through and around the line. I slowly turned my head and stood with my back to the door so as not to smell or HEAR what was going on in the restroom. Fortunately the line began to move further up.
I looked at the time on my mobile phone:
12:45- I noticed an animated Latino family standing in front of the young guy fanning his nose. They pushed their elderly daddy in a wheelchair as the line moved forward. At this point, Fanning His Nose Guy started holding his nostrils and fanning at a feverish pace. I sighed and started texting my best friend Cat.
12:50- It still stinks and I'm still texting.
1:15- I finally make it in front of a middle-aged man checking photo IDs and the voting register. The Latino family left their old daddy parked right next to the election volunteer. They were nowhere to be seen. The man reeled back and away from the daddy in the wheelchair, turned up his nose and said, "Is someone helping you SIR??" Daddy pulled out a crumpled up Kleenex and began blowing his nose in response. A random voice yelled out, "I think his family is voting!" the man leaned further way from the daddy. I shrugged, assuming he was put off by the nose blowing.
I moved closer and opened my mouth to tell the volunteer that I'd just moved when the pissy aroma reeled up and bitch slapped me in the face hard, like an angry spirit. It was then that I realized the abuelito in the wheelchair was wearing the bulk of the pungent perfume of STANK. Breathless, I told the volunteer that I was new to the district and he directed me to another line. Annoyed over having to stand in another line, but glad to be away from the unwashed papá, I took my place.
1:20- Two elderly Black ladies sat behind a table. One drew lines on a blank piece of paper with the help of a ruler while the other was on the phone to City Hall... squinting at a piece of paper. Apparently trying to determine which district a perplexed gentleman was supposed to be at. I sighed.
1:25- It was clear I wasn't going to make it back from lunch at 1:30, so I placed a call to work.
1:27- The woman continued to draw her lines. "I don't know if this gon' work" she muttered to herself, as she struggled to line up her ruler. The other granny continued to squint at the paper with the phone cradled between her ear and shoulder. An Ethiopian man in front of me grew impatient, "I need to be at work een 9 meenutes! I deedn't even eat yet!" he said in an agitated voice. "We doin' the best we can" granny on the phone said. I rolled my eyes.Then glowered at the woman drawing the lines. She never looked up.
1:30- "Can I help you?" granny on the phone (now off the phone) finally said to me. I told her that I was new to that particular voting district and I may not be on the list, and that my old polling district assured me I only needed to fill out a form, updating my info. "Oh no honey. THIS your voting district, you gotta go to 500 Main Street." She showed me where I was, in fact, listed on the registration form, pointing to district 19 with a pen. "NO!" I said impatiently, "that's my OLD district. I just moved near HERE. I need to fill out one of those pink forms and update my address. I'm at the right place." "Ohhh." she said, finally understanding. "The administrator needs to approve this info." I sighed, and followed her to yet another table.
1:34- "You're all set!" the woman behind the table said. FINALLY. "Just fill out this voter registration card with your new address and mail it to City Hall. The rest of your info is up to date. You're registered already." Relieved, I went to retrieve a ballad so that I can place my vote!
1:38- I slip my ballad in the machine. A man, another volunteer peeled the backing off of an I Voted sticker and stood poised. I reached for it, he pulled back. I held out my red pashmina scarf, he shamelessly stuck it on my right bosom instead, and pushed it down to make sure it stuck. Then he patted my arm. I rolled my eyes and walked toward the EXIT, anxious to get the hell out of there.
I made it back to work at around 1:45!
Wednesday would restore my faith in our judgement as a nation, as I'm hopeful about its future. I'm also relieved to know that we as a community don't have to find Halle Berry and Denzel Washington's Oscar wins good enough to placate us, regarding how far we can get in this country.
The discussions instigated by some well-meaning? White people... strangers... so far, have already begun to agitate me. Annoy me in that-
"HaveyouseenthenewMalcolmXpostagestamp didyouvoteforObamaIsupportyourpeople'cause IhaveBlackfriendsdidyoucryIdid?IsawtheAmistadfivetimes didyoulikeit??IvotedforMcCainHopefully Obamaknowswhathe'sdoingbecause I'mindenialoverwhattheBushAdministrationdid!"
way. "We have four years to put up with this shit" I opined to a Black co-worker. She snickered and nodded in understanding, after an animated conversation by said type of person and proud McCain supporter. Considering this momentous occassion, I'm willing to suck it up.

2 comments

  1. Anonymous6:57 PM

    http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/09/opinion/09kristof.html?_r=1&em

    :{D

    ReplyDelete
  2. Interesting. Thanks for the link.

    ReplyDelete