By Lisa Batten Kunkleman
We did it. We voted early. My husband and I, plus dozens of other Americans absorbed an hour of Vitamin D in a line spanning an entire wall outside of the library. After finally entering the door, the actual voting on one of the ten machines took no time at all.
Driving to a library less popular than the ones near home saved us a three or four hour wait time. What a stroke of genius! The voters there were congenial; laughing and chatting like fellow citizens, not party rivals.
The antics of a volunteer pollster lady helped pass time. In her high-water britches, teeny pastel Sketchers, and sporting a Democratic Grandmother sticker, she strolled up and down the line telling silly jokes and laughing at herself. I’ll bet she’s told those same jokes repeatedly since early voting began. Good for her for keeping it light.
In addition to the stand up comedian, there were smiling workers providing handicapped parking-curbside service for folks who couldn’t make it inside to vote. Quite a few senior citizens and their caregivers received assistance that way. Such thoughtful planning. With age often comes wisdom so we need some wise elders about now.
There was one super odd moment worth mentioning as we waited in line. The chatterbox guy two people behind us tried his hand at comedy but it fell flat. In his first attempt he yelled, “Gesundheit,” to a person who sneezed way ahead of us in line. That was okay but then he shouted, “You better try it again cause the windows didn’t shatter.”
Silence. Nobody got it. Nobody laughed. Awkward. His next attempt was a bigger flop.
He said to the lady behind us and in front of him, “I want to tell you something about yourself, but sometimes people don’t want anybody bringing up their habits.”
He rambled on, repeating himself. “You see, you have a habit I’ve noticed and I want to tell you about it but I’m not sure you’ll like it if I do. Anyway, I can tell you don’t want to be here and somebody is twisting your arm to make you vote.”
The lady, obviously taken aback by this odd comment looked confused and said,“I don’t understand. What do you mean?”
He said, “Well, I’ve been watching you and notice you keep twisting your arm behind your back. It’s like you’re twisting your own arm to make you stay here and vote. You keep twisting it. It’s a habit.”
She stood silent before saying, “Well it’s my habit. I’m sorry it bothers you.”
Then he continued, “Oh it doesn’t bother me. It’s entertaining and I like it. I enjoy watching you twist it.”
My husband and I stared at each other, big eyes and raised brows, wondering what would come out of his mouth next.
The lady said in a controlled voice, “Whatever makes you happy or whatever floats your boat.”
What were the rest of us to do? The awkwardness hung loudly in the silence. I wanted to make small-talk with her but couldn’t think of a thing to say. My husband wanted to ask him what in the heck he was talking about and tell him to leave the lady alone. We did neither. We simply changed the subject between ourselves and talked about something trivial.
Other than a few bad jokes, and a super odd, socially awkward moment, the voting experience was a positive one. Chipper people waiting in line and chipper people guiding us through the process made it all painless. We’re done. A biggie checked off the to-do list. The chatterbox man went back to talking with his companions. Or were they? Who knows.