04 November 2014

On the Train After Voting

I am on the train to work—a later train than I normally take because I voted on my way to the station today. I vote at the library, so it's just across the street from me, and I love stepping into that normally quiet building at 6am to hear it buzzing with neighbors.

One woman was in running tights and a reflector vest—clearly just finishing a run, judging from her quick breaths. Several people were train commuters like me, bags slung over the shoulder and multiple glances at the clock: we must make that train to get to work to rush through the day to rush home.

And then there were the older retired people working the poll. Did they decide to work because they've always loved doing their part? Because they're up early anyway? Because they get to talk to all kinds of people?

One woman, the one who checked me in (it still amazes me that I never have to show ID—I just need to sign a paper saying that I am the person listed there), wore a denim jacket and a star-covered scarf. This small touch of patriotism made me like her so much, even when she had trouble understanding my name and I had to resort to, “W-A-L-K-E-R. Walker. Like a person who walks. No, not Walter.” (A person who walts?)

We got it figured out, and now I'm proudly wearing my “I voted” sticker and wondering how it'll all turn out.

There's such a malaise, an annoyance, an apathy now, isn't there? People are tired of talking about politics, and they're tired of hearing about politicians—but that's all our news is about, it seems. Campaigning and those terrible, unhelpful ads start earlier and earlier every election, and if we all agree that we ignore them and if we all want to scream by the time the election comes around, why has this become a normal, accepted part of our elections?

It's just like with Christmas decorations: Every year stores put them up earlier, and every year we all roll our eyes and nostalgically remember the good old days when it didn't become Christmas time until after Thanksgiving—and then we buy decorations and wrapping paper in September, perpetuating the idea that we, the consumers, are demanding a Christmas shopping season that lasts 9 months.

We've done this to ourselves—the decorations and the elections—but we still look around in shock, blinking in surprise at what our daily lives have become. And then we step out of the voting booth, button up our coats, and step outside into the November chill, hopeful for today that something will change.

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