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I made it by the skin of my teeth

I spent most of Tuesday feeling really disappointed in myself. It was election day, and as the day wore on, it looked like I wasn’t going to make it to the polls. I tried to console myself with reminders that it was only a primary…but in the back of my mind, I knew the truth – it was an election that I wasn’t going to be part of. I was letting my state down and I was letting myself down. As I completed every item on my day’s “to do” list, except vote, all the good citizens with their “I voted” stickers only served to make me feel worse. I just couldn’t seem to find the time to get to the poll; first Baby #2 fell asleep, then I had to pick Baby #1 up from school, then I needed to take Baby #2 to his school…
Then, I got my chance. I was laying on the floor of our family room, ready to wave my white flag and admit that the day had defeated me when Hubby #1 got home.

“What’s wrong?” he asked, confused by my dramatic state.
“I just worked so hard to make this dinner and when I served it, Baby #1 looked at it and said it wasn’t what she wanted,” I whined, feeling incredibly stereotypical and more than a little lame.
“Did you get a chance to vote?” he asked.
“No,” I answered feeling even worse than when Baby #1 rejected my pork tenderloin.
“Do you want to go now?”

I sprang at the chance. Faster than you can say, “We the people,” I had my sample ballot in hand and was heading out the door. For a moment, it occurred to me that my eagerness to get to the poll had as much or more to do with getting away from the kids for a few minutes, but it didn’t matter why I was going to vote…what mattered was that I was.

A few minutes later, I found myself standing in a short line in a garage a few blocks away. I admired how neat the garage was and noted that our garage would probably never be neat enough to serve as a polling place. Then, it was my turn. I proudly entered the cubicle and cast my votes. Over my shoulder, I heard a fellow voter sounding upset about something, but I wasn’t focusing on him. By the time I was watching my ballot go into the box and receiving my long-awaited “I Voted” sticker though the man in line had gone from sounding upset to loudly ranting about a connection between our current administration and communism.

“You can’t talk like that at a polling place!” the elderly man who was checking people in told him.
“It’s freedom of speech,” the angry man countered.
The old man stood up and pointed to the clearly posted rules for polling place behavior. “It says right here,” he said. “You have to leave if you’re going to talk like that.”
The angry man’s attacks moved from President Obama to the polling place volunteer.
“David, sit down!” the volunteer’s wife, and co-volunteer, anxiously shouted at him in a faded New York accent.
David was getting upset too though. “Get out of here!” he yelled in defense of democracy.

Cursing as he left, the angry man got into his car and screeched down the street. Then, because it was a cul-de-sac, he came screeching back up the street. At this point, proudly wearing my sticker, I was heading out of the garage and toward my car. As I heard the angry man’s black jeep speeding back toward us, I had a fearful flash that he was about to go postal and plow his car into the formerly peaceful voting location. I thought to myself, “Great, I actually do the right thing and go vote and now I’m going to get killed.” The situation seemed like the kind of event the eleven o’clock news thrived on.

Thankfully, the angry man sped past, only assaulting us with more obscenities as he went. Relieved, I went to my car and headed home to my family, where I was pleased to see that Baby #1 had eaten almost all of her dinner. I felt my shame replaced by pride in the knowledge that I got out there and did my part. When I first entered a voting booth at 18 years old, I remember feeling part of something bigger and promising myself that I would never miss an opportunity to vote. Thankfully, this time I made it by the skin of my teeth.

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