“Here comes someone!”
I instinctively turned to look behind me, but the smiling, excited man was holding the door open for me. There were only a few cars in the parking lot, and the only person following me was my 4-year-old son, who was not at all happy to be dragged out of the car, and who was showing it by scuffing his new shoes on the concrete sidewalk.
“The sooner I finish here, the sooner we can get to McDonald’s,” I reminded my angelic offspring.
He was too short-term to care. He was hungry, tired after a long day at daycare, and actively unimpressed that I had decided that I just had to vote in the primary run-off. He slowed down.
The man holding the door now held out a bribe. “Would you like a sticker, young man?”
My son looked at the round sticker with the big peach and the words “Georgia Voter” and held out a hand.
“What do you say?” I prompted, as we finally entered the elementary school cafeteria slash polling facility.
“I want another one,” my baby whined, sticking the peach to his cheek.
“Wrong, thank you for playing,” I answered him. The man gave him a sticker for his other cheek, and I gave him a stern look.
“Thank you,” he mumbled.
I walked over to the first station. I knew it was the first station because of the big sign hanging from the cafeteria table that read “First Station.” The woman there handed me a pen and a paper and clipboard. “Please fill out your name and address.” I think it might have been the first time she had said that all day, because she had to read the form before she told me what to do.
I filled out the form, and handed it back to her. I now had 2 peach stickers stuck to my backside, one on each cheek. That’s OK, though. I love children. That’s why I became a teacher, right?
My son and I moved to the second station, clearly labeled “Second Station”. I love these people. They are obviously masters at handling crowds. They would make excellent teachers. The man there looked at my ID closely, and then back at me. Let’s just say that my driver’s license picture had been taken on a day when I hadn’t already worked 10 hours teaching verb conjugation to 7th graders. “Nice picture,” he commented, handing my license back to me. How bad did I look, if my driver’s license picture looked nice in comparison? Oy.
I smiled at the woman sitting next to him. She smiled back and handed me a neon yellow electronic card to put in the voting machine. “Here you are,” she said brightly.
The man who had held the door open for me pointed in the direction of the 10 computerized voting machines that appeared to have been collecting dust all day. “You can choose any one you like,” he said, waving cheerfully.
I walked to the one nearest to the exit, pulling my son along by the hand. Voting is an important responsibility, and we need to take our children with us so that they understand that. It’s what we call “A Teachable Moment”.
I inserted my card into the slot and heard the click. My son looked at the graphics, saw that Mario and Mickey Mouse were not there, and fell on the floor. I had moments before the fireworks started, but that was OK. I only had one choice to make. Which of the two candidates running on the Republican ticket did I want to represent the GOP in the upcoming election in November? Not that it really mattered. The state was likely to choose the Democrat anyway, despite the thousands of teachers he had abused during his first term. He was a lousy boss, and I wanted a new one.
I selected the least objectionable choice and confirmed that, yes, I actually did want to vote for this man. Go figure.
I pulled out my neon card and bent down to pick up my son. Four-year-olds weigh a ton, and their arms and legs stick out at awkward angles.
“Do you want to go eat now?” I asked him. He nodded sleepily and put his head on my shoulder.
“Thank you so much for coming out and voting today.” The man who had given my child the stickers held the door open for us again.
“Really,” he said, wanting me to know that he sincerely meant every word. The other poll workers lined up next to the door to watch us leave. “It was great that you came to vote.”
“Um…yeah,” I mumbled.
“Thank you again.” The line of poll workers waved goodbye, and watched the two “Georgia Voter” peach stickers jiggle on my backside as I walked to my minivan and bent over to hook my son into his car seat.
Must have been a slow day at the polling place, huh?
I dropped my son off at daycare the next morning and turned up the news station on the radio as I drove to school. I was mildly interested to find out if the person I had selected had won the election.
“And once again, the election results for the GOP candidate for governor in Georgia is too close to call. Officials expect that another run-off will take place the first Tuesday in September. Mark that date on your calendar, folks.”I’m thinking not.