Tuesday, November 04, 2008

First Comes Voting, Then Comes Waiting

Well, I did my part. I set my alarm clock for its usual 5:15 a.m., but I didn't roll out of bed until about an hour later. And I didn't get to the polls until around 7:30. Hey, I'm not a morning person and I'm slow as pond water, what can I say?

But I got to the elementary school that served as my polling place, I was amazed by the line of cars that filled the parking lot. People were calling the radio stations bragging about how they went to their stations at 4 a.m., just to be the first ones in line. I got even closer and I saw a line that extended outside. I immediately balked. I turned my car around and opted to vote after work.

I turned my car around and began to drive away. It was then that I started to think about all the people who came before me, who would've loved to see this day. I thought about our ancestors and how they waited in long lines, marched in the excessive heat and were sprayed with hoses just so they'd have the rights we take for granted. I thought about how I needed to represent the deceased -- Grandma, Dad, cousin Damon, friend Keya -- and do my part. So I turned around. Luckily, I found a parking space and I got in line.

Everyone braced for their turn in their own way. Some read books, papers, blasted iPods, smiled or just stared straight ahead. I left my book in my car, so I had plenty of time for observation. Folks in line ranged from old to young, pale faces to dark faces. One woman managed to get through the ordeal on crutches. An older black man proudly wore his Obama hat, easily putting an end to all those email warnings I'd been receiving. I wanted to take pictures, but I was too scared. I had this fear that that would be the one excuse to toss me out of line and keep me from voting. So I promised myself I'd snap a few pix once my vote was cast.

When it was my turn, my hands were shaking. I had to go over the ballot a few times to make sure I picked the right candidates, the right issues. Then I thought about Grandma again and how active she'd been in elections and I got a little teary. Nevertheless, I submitted my ballot, then got an 'I Voted' sticker. I was late for work, but I didn't care.

One of the election volunteers thanked us for our patience. She said they had 198 voters by 8 a.m., which was more than they had during the entire primary election day. Crazy! The line had dissipated by the time I was done, but I did snap a few pictures of the jam packed parking lot and the voting signs.
Now I'll be up all night, doing homework (presentation on Richard Wright is tomorrow!) and watching CNN. Hopefully, I'll be able to hear the acceptance speech of the first black president of the United States of America. Whew! I get chills just thinking about it.

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