07 Nov Voting!
Voting is a happy event all by itself, but voting in the post-hurricane environment of New York this year was an exceptionally exhilarating experience.
Many of our usual voting locations (schools) have been serving other functions (homeless shelters), so a lot of voters were compressed into a few locations. This, plus the permission of the governor to vote anywhere this time, resulted in masses of people with coats, strollers, walkers, children, and friends bundled into the bake-sale encrusted halls and auditorium of our neighborhood school. Lots of body contact. Without any authority figures or organizing mechanism. The only people who knew what was going on were the people who were seated at the tables against the walls, under signs with numbers on them, and no-one could see those people, and they were busy looking in their voter books anyway. A recipe for madness, right?
Au contraire. It was lovely to see and hear my neighbors, and neighbors from other neighborhoods, arrange themselves into lines, and scribble the numbers of the lines on file folders and ask the last person in each line to hold up the folder. Mostly this worked. The lines crossed each other and became entangled such that two people side by side could be facing in different directions and aiming for a different number. Now and then we’d hear someone call out, “Fives! Where are the fives?” and a welcoming shout would respond. Standing in line was not an accurate description of our activity, as there was too much movement to stand still. Wiggling aside for this one, stepping on someone’s feet to get out of the way of that one, ducking a scarf being removed or an arm being raised to wave at a familiar face kept the mass swaying and bobbing as though we were in a line dance. And the chatter: someone said he wished we were in Ohio so our efforts would actually count. This was greeted with cheers and chuckles, but mostly heard was chit-chat in a slightly heightened key. How are the kids? Did the super remove your air conditioners? Does the market have milk yet? Is your heat back on? So, where do you live again?
What was not heard: grumbling, complaining, challenging, rebuking, or any of the usual sound track of milling mobs.
No-one said aren’t we lucky that we get to do this, or isn’t it cool that we are all here together, or wow. But I think we were all communicating the same thing.