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.
October 31, 2016 at 8:13 pm
The chatterbox man was interesting. Almost sounded like he was trying to gently intimidate her, or perhaps get her to say who she was voting for.
And in many states, the poll worker with the Democratic Grandmother shirt couldn’t have worn it near the polling my place. Very interesting!
October 31, 2016 at 8:56 pm
Yeah, those two were real characters. I wondered if the man’s comments were racially motivated as he was white and she was black but I think he was just a loudmouth trying to get attention and laughs. He failed on the second part. He sure did get attention. And I wondered about the sticker too.
October 31, 2016 at 8:57 pm
I’d bet it was racially motivated.
October 31, 2016 at 8:59 pm
It’s such a shame to even have to think that’s possible in this day and time. It’s certainly possible.
October 31, 2016 at 9:01 pm
Had he felt more support from the crowd he might’ve been even bolder.
October 31, 2016 at 9:01 pm
October 31, 2016 at 8:48 pm
We had a very quiet and low crowd voting experience, Lisa. I think people were afraid to say anything. 🙂 What ever did we do before early voting?
October 31, 2016 at 8:57 pm
Oh my, early voting is a godsend. I don’t know how everyone got to voice their opinion at the polls on one day. Seems impossible.
November 1, 2016 at 11:52 pm
In Michigan, the only early voting is by absentee ballot. I’m envious.
November 2, 2016 at 2:12 am
Ooo. I’m sorry.
November 3, 2016 at 2:28 pm
[J+D] A very different voting culture to here in the UK. Everyone very serious. Tight-lipped. Don’t ask, don’t tell, just in and out, perhaps a nod and a brief chat to someone you know – but outside the venue only. Early voting only by post.
November 3, 2016 at 6:55 pm
Very interesting information. Thanks for filling me in.
November 3, 2016 at 8:55 pm
Lol… I would be at my wits end voting this time ’round… Good luck to y’all. 🙂
November 4, 2016 at 6:50 pm
Where I live it’s voting only at your designated polling place. I’m lucky to be out in the country where the population is sparse and lines are short. I’m glad you were able to get it done early, Lisa. The lady behind you handled the situation gracefully.
November 5, 2016 at 5:42 pm
I’m in Canada so I’m not voting but I’m really curious to see which party will come out on top this time around..
November 5, 2016 at 5:48 pm
The final vote cannot get here quickly enough.
November 7, 2016 at 2:53 am
hello lisakunk its dennis the vizsla dog hay dada sez its times like theez he is glad he votes by mayl!!! ha ha ok bye
November 7, 2016 at 3:08 am
That’s a great plan and you have a very smart dad.
November 21, 2016 at 3:54 pm
My early voting experience in Texas was typical, volunteers, dare I say too old for the job, who were snippy and dictatorial. My English/American friend who lives in the same area had a much more fun experience. One of the volunteers asked to see her ‘papers’ when she heard her English accent. “I have been an American citizen for 30 years and never asked for my papers!” The lady behind was a naturalized Russian, (Imagine a Russian accent) ” This is like Stalin dictatorship. Looking for ID papers!” I wish I had been there!
November 21, 2016 at 5:43 pm
Wow that’s horrible. Exciting to folks around probably. But horrible.
November 21, 2016 at 6:12 pm
There weren’t even any Democratic candidates to vote for – seriously! I am living in Republican hell…👿
November 21, 2016 at 6:23 pm
Oh my gosh! That’s a nightmare.