Waking up to the delightful although not unexpected news that Barack Obama is the president-elect is a lovely cap on an unforgettable voting experience.
I wasn’t sure when I was going to vote — I’d hoped to do it with a minimum of waiting because I had a full day ahead of me what with computer issues, a pet crisis and a teenager in need of new jeans. I didn’t listen to the news before heading out at about 10 to cast my ballot, but didn’t expect to encounter a long wait at that time in the morning.
When I pulled into the parking lot of our polling place — the local rescue squad — and saw the line stretching around the building and down the sidewalk, my eyes teared up. I was proud to be a part of this and proud of my fellow citizens.
I parked in the overflow parking lot of the church next-door (which had a few empty spaces despite the fact it also was a polling place) and headed to stand in the line, not knowing how long I would be there. It didn’t take long before everyone was talking to everyone else. One woman was asking those around her their opinions of various constitutional amendment proposals on the ballot. Others were talking about the excitement in the air. After about 15 minutes in line a black and white Saturn pulled up and employees from Honest Tea, a company based in Bethesda, handed out free Honest Tea drinks to folks standing in the line. That only added to the party atmosphere.
As the line snaked around the building and up the steps, I noticed my neighbors at the end of the, now significantly shorter, line. They were eligible to go ahead of the crowd and take the elevator, by merit of their age, but they stood in line like the rest, and chatted with their fellow voters.
I saw several people from my neighborhood and people I’d met over the years through school connections. We nodded or shared a few words as we crossed paths.
A woman ahead of me is becoming a Head Start teacher after retiring from NEA. The woman behind me brought her children and her oldest son, who was voting for the first time. The man directly in front of me had his preschool aged daughter who behaved very well, standing in line that long.
Standing in line is not anyone’s favorite activity, but yesterday I wouldn’t have missed it for the world. When my husband voted — he said there was no line and I should have waited until 4 to vote. Nope — I’m glad I went when I did. It was the best hour I’ve spent in a long time. And the best time waiting in line ever.
I read the blog of a woman I knew a few years ago, and her post today is that she didn’t vote because of the line and then didn’t go back to vote because of the rain later in the day. I feel sorry for her, missing out on the excitement and camaraderie of the event.