I just needed an alliteration.
About a month ago, my wife and I did our patriotic duty and voted. Seeing as how we live in Robbinsdale (a smaller suburb), the voting place was in one of the local churches.
There's nothing stranger than running into your entire neighborhood in one room. Though a smaller polling place (when compared to Minneapolis or St. Paul, for example) they didn't have enough privacy booths (again, for lack of a better term...I'm talking about the desks with flimsy wings to hide your pencil movements). As such, my wife and I had to sit at a table in the corner. As I approached the table with my ballot in one hand and my son's carseat in the other, many people began lowering their bodies toward the table and putting out their arms. The gist was clear: Don't look at my ballot.
The only chairs available were in the corner, so I set Poozer up next to me, and my wife and I began the voting process.
Halfway through filling in the bubbles, the people to my right cleared out. This meant space was available. This meant someone was going to be sitting next to me...and Little Leab. It was after filling in the bubble for the first judge that I saw the gentleman who would be sitting next to me. He was on a cell phone, carried a bag of McDonald's, and was openly and loudly angry about having to be at my table. He moved toward me without paying attention. He reached the table and swung his foot out to sit down, and, in doing the action without paying attention, his foot barely missed my son's carseat.
"Who the hell put that kid there?" He asked loudly. "There's a kid next to where I'm voting," He says into his cellphone. "No wonder people don't like to vote."
"Excuse me," I say. "Could you keep it down, please?"
"What?" the guy retorts, "Am I ruining your concentration?" He then laughs one of those self-serving, "I'm so damn funny" laughs.
I don't retort. I just want to make sure he doesn't wake up Little Leab.
As he starts to fill out the bubbles, my new buddy pulls out a cheeseburger. The wrapper comes off (loudly), and he starts to talk to himself about which person shall get his vote.
As I'm finishing the water commission section, he kicks out his leg (maybe it was a cramp, maybe he was stretching) and kicks my son's seat, which flies up almost perpendicular to the way it was sitting.
My eyes go wide.
"You shouldn't have had the kid there," I'm told by the guy as he bites into his cheeseburger and gets ketchup on his ballot.
I say nothing as I'm almost finished. My wife, however, says, "Be quiet, please."
Finished filling in the bubbles, I stand up, pick up my son, and start to go.
"Who'd you vote for?" He asks me.
"That's none of your business," I reply. Here's the fun part.
With my ballot on the table along with my son's diaper bag, the guy GRABS MY BALLOT AND STARTS READING IT.
"Gimme that!" I say.
"I can't believe you voted for (CLASSIFIED). The way you don't care about your state...I should have stepped on your son."
The roar of the room has lowered enough that everyone has heard this guy and is now staring at us. The older woman sitting across from my wife is shaking her head, and the guy at the desk nearby says, "That's just too far," under his breath.
Again...I say nothing, but I see my neighbors all staring at me. They all now know who I'm voting for and it's not who most of them would have picked.
After placing my ballot in the machine, I wait for my wife. I'm embarrassed. Should I be? I have no clue, but I was beet red. Usually I have snappy comebacks and such, but I was stupefied as to what I could say without being an offensive prick.
Finally, my wife gets up and comes over. At that point, one of the volunteers comes over and tells the guy to be quiet. When he argues, they tell him to finish his vote quietly and to not talk to the other patrons. "Disorderly conduct," I hear said, "can make your vote invalid."
I have no idea if that statement is true, but it worked.
Now, one month later, my neighbors still ask me: "How could you vote for (CLASSIFIED)? That's...just...wrong."
Still, that's better than the last time I voted when the group of old people in front of me freaked out because I was talking about how there was a Communist Party candidate.
Then again what do I know? I'm the guy who quietly votes. I could be wrong.