November 5, 2008
I love election days for several reasons, including the fact that at my designated polling place (my daughter's elementary school), voters are treated to free cookies and patriotic music played by the school band. For presidential elections, the professionals (AKA: the middle school orchestra) are brought in.
On most election days, my polling place is a hub of frenzied activity and excitement. Yesterday proved to be a disappointing exception. My husband voted early in the morning and was met at the polling place by long lines, hostile picketers, and several cranky and impatient commuters. I made the poor choice of voting in the middle of the afternoon, when all of the protesters were on their lunch breaks. The only person with whom I could pick a fight was sitting on a splintered bench next to the front doors. The woman was holding a handmade poster (complete with pithy political statement) in one hand and a sandwich in the other. It was raining and the woman's sandwich appeared to be from the tuna fish family, so I left her alone.
Poking around my daughter's school during school hours is made difficult both by the pesky "visitor" badges that parents are required to wear and by the nosy hall monitors who tend to hang out in front of all of the windows through which I want to look.
My plan was to tour the school before I voted. My path to the art and music rooms was blocked, however, by a menacing looking woman dressed in a red, white, and blue sweater vest. When I cast a longing look at the vast, vacant stretch of hallway behind her, the woman shot me a "don't even think about it" look and pointed in the direction of the gymnasium. I was forlorn.
My good spirits further diminished when I exited the voting booth and went into the foyer to claim my free cookie. I was distraught to discover that without any warning or posted public notice, the elementary school PTA had taken over the refreshment table and were charging money for the cookies. Even worse, I had left my wallet in my car.
My sorrow of leaving the polling place with an empty stomach was pacified little by the melodious sounds produced by the middle school orchestra. The band was playing, appropriately, the theme song of Titanic.