Gray clouds, thick with rain, hover above the school where I work. A young man, who has just voted in today's election, hauls my griddle and the remnants of our Cinco de mayo celebration to my car and set them inside. He asks me about our school before adding that his son will attend here in the fall.
Rain drizzles lightly onto my scalp as I close the car door and stand there listening. He apologizes before admitting his ultimate plan to enroll the boy at the prestigious private school a few miles up the road. Pulling out his phone, he shows me a picture of the smiling four year old. Finally, he asks my name and introduces himself. We shake hands and part before rushing to seek shelter inside our cars. Turning the key I sit, momentarily appreciative of the warmth and dryness of my little car.
It is 5pm on election day. I have a 40 minute drive home and I still have to vote.
Today's election is not presidential but it's important. I'm afraid the number of voters might be low. This damp and drizzly weather may be regarded as another reason to stay home and leave the voting to others. I must admit, all I can think, as I inch my way north through heavy traffic is, I just want to get home, change into my favorite pajamas, aka leisure wear, and chill. But, of course, voting is non negotiable. No rest for the weary (me) until it's done.
So, I stop for coffee, and then continue north. I wrestle with the idea that I'll have to wait in a long line of voters because the issue of today's election is a hot item. I dread the thought of entering my neighborhood school, only to be slowed down and assigned a spot in the slow march toward the library to be greeted by pole workers, tired from the throngs of voters through out the day.
Perhaps I'll see neighbors or long lost aquaintences from the subdivision and strike up conversations. Maybe, just maybe, I'll run into one of my children's former elementary school teachers who happen to be working late. I wonder if they'll remember my children, or me, considering the fact that my youngest just graduated from college last Saturday...probably not.
As I suspected, the streets leading to the school have absolutely no traffic. Turning onto the drive that leads to the school, I note the nearly empty parking lot. I pull into a space directly across from the entrance and park. Two women, wearing "I voted" stickers rush to their cars.
Now fortified with coffee, I step out of my car and head toward the school. Once inside, I walk the empty hallway to the library. There is one man in line. The worker at the desk asks me to fill out the necessary form. I do and hand it to her, along with my license. From there, I am directed around the corner and handed a ballot inside of a large folder.
The voting booths stand silent. There is no line. I walk inside one and open the ballot. Reading and rereading the proposal, I am more sure than ever that my original voting plan is correct. So, I mark the ballot, remaining true to my original decision.
It is close to 6pm as I feed my ballot into the voting machine and hand the folder to another worker. I smile at her and ask, "What number am I?"
"243. There are stickers over there if you want one." she says before returning to her book.
I spot the "I Voted" stickers sitting on a table and stuck to the back of a chair. I pull one from the chair and stick it onto my jacket.
What a small turnout! I can only hope there will be a large number of "after six" voters who will descend upon this school, filling the parking lot and the halls inside. That the workers behind the counter will have to set their romance novels back inside their purses to accommodate the flow. But I know this is wishful thinking.
"How's your mom doing?" a worker asks as I head toward the exit door.
"She's fine," I say and smile.
"Tell her I said hello" she calls before waiting on the next voter.
I exit the school looking forward to the comfort and warmth of my home. Voters entering the building exchange smiles and greetings as we pass. I am thankful for the few who have come to exercise their right to vote.
Unlocking my car, I open the door to escape the drizzle once again. For just a moment, I take in the, mostly empty, parking lot and wonder which of my friends and coworkers will complain to me about the election's outcome, even though they did not bother to vote.
I'm getting too old for this.
My patience is short for those who choose to allow something as simple and easy as casting a ballot become too much of a burden.
I start the engine and pull out of the lot, knowing that I have done all I can to change this situation. I can only hope that it is enough.