Election Day – Morning. It’s a gorgeous sun-shiney day.
So, I just got out of the acupuncturist’s office and I’m all zen and shit, ’cause I just got poked with needles in my feet, neck and third eye chakra in an attempt to de-stress-ify myself and I’m walking to the polls to vote for CHANGE. I did my research. Not only was I ecstatic about voting for the new president, but I also knew how I wanted to vote on every single California Proposition on the ballot. I had a cheat sheet with me just so I would get it right.
As I said before, this year I chose not to work the polls. When I do not work the polls, I am a bit of a polling-place watchdog because I know that most people are not familiar with polls, having never worked them and have no idea what to expect. And since I do know a bit about polling place law, I keep an eye out in an effort to keep the process as pure as possible – because when dealing with the public, you get all kinds of folks with all kinds of passions – especially during this election.
As I walked up to my polling place, a lady with an anti-Prop 8 t-shirt tried to give me a flyer endorsing a “no” vote on Proposition 8. For those living outside of California (or under a rock), Proposition 8 was a church sponsored measure to overturn the same-sex marriage law and to legally define a marriage as a union between one man and one woman. Of course, I’m not a bigoted asshole, so I already had plans on voting “no” on Prop 8. But I was afraid that the activist was within 100′ of a polling place, so I stopped to tell her that she needed to be outside of the 100′ range of the front door. She informed me that the yellow signs on the hill above where she stood marked the required 100′. I smiled, gave her a thumbs up and went on my merry-zen way.
Then some crotchety, bitter, older woman on the verge of being elderly stomped up in line behind me. She was withered, her mouth set in a perpetual sneer, with bleach-blond hair and a nose so crooked that she could have drowned had it been raining too hard. The only reason I noticed her was because after she got in line behind me, she began yelling toward the anti-Prop 8 woman on the street. I felt, and still feel, like I may have jumped the gun a lil’ bit and maybe have been too over-zealous about my self-appointed polling watchdog duties. But did I hear the tone in the older woman’s voice coupled with the angry sneer and then the words came out of her mouth.
“No, you have to listen to me,” she shouted at the anti-Prop 8 activist who was standing where she legally had to be, on the sidewalk, over 100′ away. I was NOT going to listen to this angry woman have any sort of screaming match over this issue, not while I was in line and not within that god-damned 100′ of pure voter safe haven. No, not on my watch, I didn’t care if this insidious woman was my neighbor or not. Besides, hey, isn’t this Venice, California, the sanctuary of freak-dom?
“You know what?” I said to the sneering, screaming, finger-pointing woman. “If you want to have a conversation with her,” I pointed toward the anti-Prop 8 lady on the street, “then by law you have to do it on the other side of these yellow signs.”
The screaming lady turned to me and said, “You have a real attitude, you know that?” My zen began to melt. I guess I pointed my finger in her face when I repeated the mandate, “You have to go speak to her from over there,” I said. “Because right now you are within 100′ of a polling place and I don’t want to hear it.”
“You need to get your finger out of my face.” The old biddy shouted at me. She got within inches of my face, definitely violating my personal space and repeated her plan of attack on me. “You have to listen to me . . .”
I cut her off, because yeah, I have an Annatude all right and I don’t have to do anything, least of all listen to her nonsense. “Actually, I refuse to listen to you.” I said.
She countered with a furied stutter. “C-c-an I just . . . ask you one-one question. God, you have real attitude, you know that?” She looked like she wanted to spit, she was so angry.
“I do not wish to have a conversation with you.” I said, and turned my back. And thankfully, those zen-melted words were enough to keep her quiet or else it could have gotten real ugly, real quick because I was for-real angry. And people in line all around the two of us were dead silent. No one dared speak to or look at either one of us the entire time. The line wasn’t very long, but the 15 minute wait seemed like hours to me. The crazy lady left the line more than once, mumbling to herself, each time asking the lady behind her if she’d hold her place in line.
Each time she returned, much to my dismay, she claimed her rightful place in line, right behind me. I couldn’t believe how different this line was than the other precinct down the street. I went to the incorrect polling place earlier in the morning and was met by hordes of cheerful people with wide grins who were as ecstatic about voting as I. We all merrily chirped about the fact that together, we were all about to make history.
This polling place experience was turning out so much differently. Much to my chagrin, she would be right there in line behind me, potentially listening as I gave my name and address to the roster clerk. And because we live in the same precinct, she was more than likely a neighbor of mine. As soon as I gave the clerk my name and address, I kept an open ear in order to hear hers. (And you know what? I found out where that bitch lives. And I caught her last name too. She’s a couple of streets over.)
So, I voted. Right as I started my monthly cramps. Right as some guy who was next in line for an open booth answered his cell phone and said in a booming authoritative kind of voice, “Oh, I can’t talk. I’m in line next to vote,” and proceeded to negotiate some sort of business deal over the phone for what seemed like a fucking eternity. I glared at him as I stabbed the ballot with my inky stylus, re-read the questions so I would make no mistakes, and felt another cramp in my lower belly. Ahhh, it made so much more sense now as to my state of mind!
When I exited my precinct polling place, the bitchy ole blonde was nowhere to be found, thankfully. But I did approach the anti-Prop 8 lady for a little bit of gossip. “Hey,” I said, “I’m sorry I started any shit with that crazy old woman. I just didn’t want to hear her heckle you.” I should mention that at this point I still wasn’t sure if I was just an off-the-wall, crazed PMS-ing troublemaker or if I had any reason to be justified in my poll line actions.
“It’s OK,” the anti-Prop 8 lady smiled. She knew exactly who I was talking about. “Someone told me that while she voted, she mumbled, ‘Jesus is watching me vote right now.”
It pains me to say that all of those Christian people are at home smiling right now, patting themselves on the back, because although as a country we all have a victory in the White House, Prop 8 did in fact pass in California with a razor-thin margin.
I still can’t believe that crazy old woman is my neighbor and I still can’t believe that she thinks that Jesus was watching her vote, sitting on his cloud, halo on his head and smiling down at her. And most of all, I honestly can’t believe I got so bent out of shape by the entire incident.