I signed up to work all day at the polls on Election Day like I always do because I’m basically unemployed and I got plenty of time on my hands. Also, free food.
This was the first time I’d been assigned this particular precinct about 2 miles from my house in a neighborhood of mostly college apartments and low-income housing.
My job was to usher the cars into the parking lot and tell voters which door to enter while handing out fliers with all the names and faces of the Democratic candidates for office. Huh. How did that get in here?
Don’t fret. The Trumpers were right behind me with their own fliers although it irked me considerably to see every single one of them leaning into the car windows without a mask on.
As Joe might say, “C’mon, man.”
Then again, when you tell everyone the virus will be gone Nov. 4, as if by magic because Democratic hoax and conspiracy by Doctors Needing Boat Payments, you don’t need no stinkin’ mask.
Anyway. Election Day was an uncharacteristically cold Carolina day here in New Hanover County, N.C., one of 10 bellwether counties in the entire nation. Would we go blue? Would we go red? Would we be able to chase down that guy giving out free, hot glazed croissants before he ran out?
The answers, as we now know, are YES, NO and HAVE WE MET?
Because I don’t know the presidential race outcome as I write this Nov. 5, I will simply tell you that working the polls was, as always, a terrific window into what makes us Americans—annoying, big-hearted, all the things, good and bad.
There were hundreds of first-time voters, mostly college-age, who warmed my soul as they told me, unsolicited, “this is my first time voting!” There’s something incredibly moving about seeing someone that excited about voting. I looked away for a moment and remembered Seinfeld’s denial of emotion: “What is this salty discharge coming from my eyes?”
Another highlight: The way the minority-owned bakery didn’t even pause before walking over to the Trump tent and handing out the most amazing homemade treats along with napkins and offers of free coffee. That right there, friends? That’s America.
There were a few funny moments. Let’s just say hot-boxing is real and while I can’t imagine being so casual as to roll up to the polls in a cloud of weed smoke, to each his own, I guess.
There were voters who walked up, many with strollers, and my personal favorite a woman who maneuvered a huge U-Haul truck through the narrow traffic lane. It was an hour til closing time and she had been moving all day before she realized she hadn’t voted. So, with the only car available a U-Haul still half full of furniture she did what she had to do.
Spending a day at the polls, hushpuppies frying across the street, boom-box music genially rotating between country and R&B, renewed my faith in our future. No matter how it turns out.
Celia Rivenbark would like to punch Cal Cunningham in the naughties.