Val is about to tell you a horror story with far-reaching consequences! Get something to nosh on. Grab the popcorn and soda. Or maybe you'll have to make do with a bowl of nuts and some grape juice, if you're visiting a family you don't know because you're planning to watch the movie version rather than read it. Watch out for their white sofa, and remember that you can't call your seat.
Our story begins here. Looks foreboding, doesn't it? What horror might lurk behind those walls? Are you brave enough to enter?
Lots of warnings on the door. Are you sure you want to go through with this? On the other side of that door is a basement packed with angst. With souls that don't know which way to turn.
Abandon all hope, ye who enter here! I had to work quick, before one of those angsty souls escaped into the dark pall of day, and got caught on my hand-me-down-phone camera.
An elderly gentleman with a cane beat me (not literally) to the door. He bemoaned the fact that this polling place really should be handicap accessible. I just moaned. In agreement. There are five carpeted steps down to the basement where the ballots are doled out. With only one handrail, because the other side of the stairwell is taken up by one of those mechanical seat contraptions like shot Mrs. Deagle, the hateful banker/cat lady, out the upstairs window in Gremlins. Nobody was gonna ride that thing. It didn't even have arms on it to stab your fingernails into. And it was tiny. It would have been like asking a sumo wrestler to sit on a postage stamp. A snow songbird stamp, not an oversized, overpriced breast cancer awareness stamp.
What's all the flap about should we have a law requiring people to show ID before they vote? We ALWAYS have to show ID at my polling place. They used to check your driver's license picture, then flip through a giant book bigger than Santa's Naughty and Nice List, and mark in ink that you voted. NOW they have a fancy schmancy contraption that Genius would appreciate, though he's probably designed things way more complicated that that while in middle school. The lady turned my license over (and not just because of the worst picture ever taken that I sincerely hope doesn't do me justice) and put it on a little platform and pushed a thingy that read the barcode on the back!
Then I was given a paper ballot by the next old crone, and a black pen by the last crone at the table. Voting was family style. That means we didn't have booths for privacy, like I remember when I accompanied my parents to vote in the gymnasium of my old junior high school when I was in elementary. It's the same place we went to eat sugar cubes with polio vaccine on them! And there were yellow triangle radiation signs declaring that it was also a shelter for when the Ruskies dropped the big one. Ahh...my idyllic childhood...
Anyhoo...we had to sit at round tables-for-five, covered with red plastic tablecloths, to do our voting, with people walking by all willy-nilly, and getting up and sitting down, and others talking loudly, one lady in particular, who said, "Isn't it a pity we don't have someone to vote FOR, rather than someone to vote AGAINST?" I swear someone hollered back, "Amen!" But we WERE in a church. It's like people arrived for a nice banquet, and were forced to take a tiny taste of the entree just to say they'd tried it, though most spit it out "Ptooey!" and filled their ballot plates with more palatable side dish choices.
Against the wall were three electronic voting machines, I think. I only had a chance to use one about 8 years ago, and that's where it was. There weren't even dividers on the sides. They were like tall TV trays. A lady came from there with her panties in a wad, because of what it said on the top of the electronic ballot. "This is ST. Boondocks County! Why does the ballot only say 'Boondocks County?'" Nobody had an answer for her, but you could tell she was agitated lest her ballot be thrown out for a clerical error.
The minder at the ballot-feeder was quite disinterested when I got to it. I asked if it mattered which end went in first, or which side was up, and she said no. But earlier, while voting, I heard her complaining to another lady that some people only checked or Xed the boxes (more like oval rectangles) instead of filling them in completely, and the machine kicked them out, and they had to sit down and color them in.
Let the record show that my polling place, at 10:30 a.m., was filled with MY PEOPLE (in the same manner The Pony refers to introverted nerds as HIS PEOPLE). Meaning the elderly and partially-lame and not-working good-ol'-bubba network, with men wearing overalls and women with their hair on the fourth day of their weekly beauty-parlor shellacking.
Get a load of THIS! When I got up this morning, I sent Hick a text to ask if he voted. Usually he goes on the way to work, and was often one of the first handful of people to show up when the polling place opened at 6:00. And do you know that Hick texted back?
"No. I thought we would go when I get home."
Has that man lost his mind? There's no way I was leaving home with him after 5:00 p.m. and trying to get in there to vote! NEVER in the history of our marriage have we gone to the polling place at the same time. If this is what his retirement looks like, I want no part of it! I used to go by after work, when it was starting to get dark, taking both boys along, and I had trouble finding a parking spot at 4:00 or 4:30. I can only imagine after 5:00. When I was there today at 10:30, both parking lots were full, AND the spot for five or six cars out front along the road. I was lucky to have a car backing out right by the red door.
That's my voting adventure. Hick went after work, and said it was packed. He got one of these, too
(scary thought), though I was the only one left by that time for him to impress, while I had paraded my sticker through the gas station chicken store. Nobody made a comment. But when I was teaching, the kids (and some teachers) were in a tizzy all day when they saw legal adults without a vote sticker. Not everybody lives a couple blocks down the street from their polling place, you know. Mine is in the opposite direction of town.
I made the effort, though. And if you didn't, you'd better hold your tongue for the next four years, because you haven't earned the right to gripe.
Let the record show that the vote sticker is stuck to my gambling uniform shirt! Which might have, perhaps, been an inadvertent wardrobe choice of Freudian proportions.