What happens in an hour

Jack got up at 6 to go vote, before Kent was even up for the day, and when he got home an hour later, I handed off the newly-awoken boy, grabbed a travel mug of coffee and a book I need to be reading for my diss research, and drove to the polls myself. I waited an hour, and it was a really nice hour. I read for about 20 minutes, then spent the rest of the time just watching the people around me, writing down things I heard, faces I saw, and how it felt to be finally casting a vote for Obama. Electric. We live in a mostly black and VERY pro-Obama area of town, and I kept wondering how many of my neighbors who had come out to vote thought that this day wouldn't be possible in their lifetimes. So here are some of my notes.

7:25 — in line

There's a young white guy behind me, studying his notes for a class or an exam, and a young white guy in front of me in the generic white-guy uniform of a light blue oxford shirt and khakis. A young black guy just left after voting, wearing his McDonald's uniform, probably on the way to work. It's strange to think about McDonald's employees voting; I'm not sure why.

There's a young black mom keeping her kids entertained, and another young black mom letting her young daughter sleep on her shoulder. (I saw this mom hold her daughter the entire hour she was there. Simultaneous dedication to voting and to her kid.)

The parking lot is full of SUVs, Cadillacs, pimped out coupes with tinted windows, and a plethora of sedans like my Saturn. This is a cross-section of the American auto market if I ever saw one.

Every so often, I hear someone call into work to report that they're still waiting. I think several times about what this election means to my neighbors, and how many people are putting other parts of their lives on hold to do this thing that matters so much.

After I've been there for half an hour or so, I hear someone drive by who's seeing the line outside, and he rolls down his window and yells "Wooooooo! Go America!" Scattered giggles in the line, and someone remarks that she needed that.

After about 40 minutes, Jack accidentally calls me from his pocket, so I listen to him and Kent watching CNN, hear Kent turn off the TV and say "Bye bye", and finally hang up after the rustling of Jack's pocket takes over the other sounds.

It occurs to me, again, how important this day is.

8:10 — I step through the threshold of the building, still in line. I start to hear the intermittent chirp of the "Cast Your Vote" buttons, and the adrenaline starts. I'm shaking. I hear poll workers spelling and checking everyone's names, the coffee starts to catch up to me, and I just can't believe the whole thing. This is such an unreal election, and I want to remember every second of it.


I voted at 8:20, and I was number 165 at our precinct in the first half of the alphabet. Jack was number 69. Juvenile snicker.

Jack and I thought we should go vote first thing in the morning, since he had his exam this afternoon and didn't want to be stuck in line when he needed to be studying, and we both ended up waiting about an hour. Around 10 a.m., when Kent and I went to the grocery store and Jack was studying, we drove by the polls, and there was no line. None. I need to remember the mid-morning thing next time. I thought about waiting, but I didn't want them to get backed up and me be stuck there later in the day with Kent for an hour or two. If I had waited, though, I wouldn't have seen this gathering of my neighbors for such a vital election. It was worth the hour.

Jack and I are glued to CNN and NPR's online projection maps. He's also coming down into a post-exam slump, stuck waiting another two months or so to find out whether or not he passed his Models of Financial Economics exam. He takes an exam every six months, and he has to wait about two months after each one to get the pass/fail notification, so it occurred to me today that he's spending about a third of his life for these several years just waiting for exam results.

We told Kent after we read his books tonight that when he woke up in the morning, we'd have a president. A real president this time, either way, though it looks like things are in our favor now that PA is wrapped up. Shout out to Lauren and Jeannette! Heck, shout out to everyone who voted anywhere, whomever you voted for. This has been an incredible ride.

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Yes we can! and Yes we did!!
It was absolutely unreal to see Obama's name on the ballot...and every time the news shows something about VA finally turning blue, I can't help but feel happy and proud that I actually helped make a difference.
And I'm relieved that leaving PA didn't make a difference (results-wise).
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