Saturday, October 11, 2008

Enfranchised!

Victory! Well, for me, not necessarily my candidates, but every little step helps. I actually received my absentee ballot in the mail. Strange as it may seem, I wasn't counting on getting it. See, I'm from a city that has been under the strangle-hold of the democratic party for a very, very, very long time. And voting kafuffles go hand-in-hand with that history. Every time I've voted there I've felt the thrill of having wrested something I deserved out of a hand resentful and reluctant to yield it to me.

This reminds me of a story... Once upon a time I went down to the local park department to vote. (Actually, this is a true story. Don't let the fairy-tale beginning throw you off.) It's only 3 blocks from my house, and the voting process is very easy. All you have to do is tell them your name. Thinking back, I realize I've never once shown my ID to prove that I actually am the "Amy Peterson" on the list who resides at --.

Anyway, at the double doors of the building's entrance were several very "beefy" men (read: large, muscular, and unmistakably descended from mafia), there to help people vote, I assume. As I approached the heavy doors they fell over themselves to hoist both wide open, creating a princess-like entrance into the dingy, echoing, CPD halls. All smiles and nods, they were the very picture of eagerness as they pointed me down the left hallway toward the voting room. (There is never a line. Chicago is very efficient when it comes to getting in the vote.)

I happily went through the process of punching my tabs and shoving my ballot down the slot. Somehow or other, when the old ladies at the table had given me the ballot, they also gave me a little receipt that I could carry out with me, showing that I had done my civic duty and voted. Oddly (as I think about it now), this receipt was colored -- one color if you were a registered Dem, and another if you were a Republican. They kept the tear-off part, which I guess was an added safety measure to ensure no one could pretend to be me and vote again.

Clutching my receipt in my hand I sauntered back toward the main doors, happy in the knowledge that there were several large men available to open them. These doors, you see, are huge, metal, fireproof sorts of things. Rather awkward.

I turn the corner to the short foyer hall. I'm on one end; the doors and three men are on the other. I see them. They see me. Their eyes drift down to the receipt in my hand. Their faces harden. Their arms cross. Their backs lean against the walls.

Undisguised hostility oozed toward me and my red receipt. Not a nod. Not a smile. (And I'd been looking rather fetching, as I was in a skirt and on my way to work. It didn't help a bit.)

There was only one way out, so I held my chin high, my eyes down, and walked the gauntlet. (I'd have rather run.) Three slouching guards (each at least twice my bulk, and I'm not a short woman) glared angrily at me on either side; six bulging arms remained stolidly crossed two feet away as I struggled with the heavy 1960's-weight metal doors.

When the door had finally opened and I'd slipped out to the other side, their following anger felt like brick weights pasted to my back. The feeling accompanied me all the way to the car. I shivered some, glad that it was morning and the sky was light, glad my receipt and I hadn't met these public servants in some dark alley.

Chicago's slogan is, "The City that Works", and it really does. I truly admire Mayor Daley's tulips, symbolic of the well-oiled bureaucracy that keeps things moving along and even keeps them looking good as they do. I've actually recommended just such a mafia-inspired governmental structure for poor D.C., which seemed in bad need of help when last I saw it. Chicago may be corrupt, but dog-gone-it, it works. The only thing is, it takes God on your side to get it to work for you.

Which I don't mind, as I have God.

Gosh, I love that city!

2 comments:

Annie Peterson said...

That is crazy! I love how you feel like you've won a victory when you vote...I was just telling some people the other day how I wish that I was from Missouri or some place (and could actually vote, but that's a different matter) so my vote would actually MATTER. Illinois always goes Democrat anyways...your view seems a whole lot nicer.

This also reminds me how as much as I don't want Obama to be President, I have to admit that the healthcare for kids in Illinois is amazing...I don't know how much he has to do with that, but being a state senator...maybe something. It has worked for me! :)

Anonymous said...

I wish you could vote, too, Annie :)