Tag Archives: proper upbringings

Dear Lady in the Gray Sweater (or Why Voting in a Small Town is Fun)

I am sorry. Please let me explain my behavior.

My husband Jack and I had three tasks this morning: vote; drop off Owen Meany, bookshop staff kitten, for removal of procreation equipment; and be at our 8:30 chiropractic appointments.

We arrived at the polls at 7:40, when the lines were only 3 deep. Jack searched my shoulder bag. “The voting cards aren’t here.”

Oops. It had been my job to grab them from the table. Jack drove back and returned with the cards, thoughtfully refraining from rolling his eyes at me as we got in our respective lines.

As you will remember, ma’am, the lines at the gym were odd: A-F, then G-M, then N-Z? Why was half the population–in a town full of Taylors and Smiths–in one line? My husband Mr. Beck sailed through as I languished in N-Z, now some 8 deep.

That’s when I saw the sign: YOU MUST HAVE ID TO VOTE.

My driver’s license was at home. All I had was the voting card. Sighing, I left the line.

Jack voted–his first US election ever–and approached, proudly bearing his sticker. “What?” he asked, seeing my face.

“I didn’t have the right ID. We’ll have to come back after chiro.”

He rolled his eyes this time. I know, Miss Gray Sweater, that neither you nor I fault him. He’d been through a lot.

We dropped Owen, who had switched from yowling threats to piteous “Why don’t you love me anymore” mews, at the vet, where they cuddled him and carried him away. Jack mentioned our voting fiasco and the staff looked puzzled. “Huh,” one said. “All I had to show was my voter registration card.” Others nodded.

Jack gave me a dark look.

We had 26 minutes before the chiropractor’s, so raced home for my driver’s license, then back to the polls. The lines were 3 deep at the other tables, about 12 at N-Z. I sighed as we inched forward. When my turn came, they glanced at my card and didn’t ask to see my license. I got my little red ticket and felt good about participating in the Democratic Process–although annoyed at how it had played out.

That was when one of the voting machines broke. The one in front of our line. It took us all awhile to realize it wasn’t moving, this line which you headed, Madam Gray Sweater.  People in A-F breezed forward even though they’d come in AFTER the last person in our line of N-Zers, now 22 strong and without a machine.

Once the election officials realized what was happening, when a machine at the top end came clear they halted the A-Fers and beckoned to you. I understood what went through your mind then; really, I sympathize. You were raised a Southern Female. You do not take cuts. You do not even take even-handedness. You were taught to hold back, let others go first, put them before your own needs.

But, ma’am, there were 21 people behind you, some of whom really needed to get to their chiropractic appointments on time, and then home to open their bookshop. Plus I know that the lady behind me runs the jewelry store, and she opens at 9 a.m. So please don’t blame me for what happened. I really don’t know where that gravely voice of Satan came from, but when I screamed, “GO, GO!” it was for all of us.

Who knew it would echo like that in the gym? So many people, staring….

Permit me to add that I was impressed by the height of your jump.

People in Miami, people in New Jersey, even friends in SW VA (Sorry, Chelsie and Donald!) went through a lot to vote: 2-hour waits, demands for documents, even being denied. So I should have been more patient. I have seen you in our bookstore occasionally, ma’am, so next visit you get a free book. It’s the least I can do after betraying–and forcing you to betray–the Southern Female Upbringing code.

Still, the fact that the people behind me clapped indicates a certain crowd concensus. So thank you for going forward, and for voting. And, and… and God Bless Us, Every One.


Filed under Big Stone Gap, folklore and ethnography, humor, small town USA, Uncategorized