Exercising Civic Duty? How I Waited Three Hours to Vote

Unlike all three presidential debates, I am currently watching televised coverage of the election. Thank you, Rachel Maddow!
Today, I woke up apprehensive about the events to come, but at least I wasn’t stressed out. On Halloween night, instead of putting on a costume, I went to a sport and community learning center a town over with my housemate Christian (a fellow Massachusetts pilgrim) to partake in early voting. The two of us had decided that we wanted to avoid the stress of voting on a work day, and luckily there was an early voting center nearby. Luckily, we were not affected badly by Hurricane Sandy either.
We knew we had found the voting center when we hit a long line of traffic sitting in a winding driveway, with political signs completely conquering all lawn space. A giant modern dome of glass and steel greeted us, glowing with lights lit equally for a gym and a democracy mecca. Pulling up to an intersection in the parking lot, a traffic guard waved his light saber for us to wait. “This feels like a concert,” Christian said, a little wide-eyed, echoing my sentiments.
We parked easily and hurried inside. “We’re going to vote!” I periodically sang out. “We’re going to vote!” Rushing inside, we found a volunteer in a t-shirt and I asked, “Excuse me? Where do we vote?” I flashed her my most winning smile.
She eyed us with an eyebrow raised, pointed to a line running through a hallway, and said, “You’re going to have to go outside.”
It turns out the line snaked in upon itself towards the front then wound around the corner, down a corridor leading to an exit, and then trailed outside the building with at least 100 people standing in the cold.
“I will never believe anything anyone says about voter apathy again,” I said to Christian. Then I added, “Want to get a snack?”
About ten minutes later, Christian and I piggy backed onto the line outside, each armed with a slice of pizza wrapped in tin foil. As we munched on our lukewarm grease, cheese, and bread, volunteers walked by us, passing out brochures and chops urging us to vote a certain way, while a handful volunteers tapped into the sidewalk prophet within, encouraging us not to give up. “The important thing is that you came here. You are doing the right thing,” prophet after prophet reminded us.
We certainly were not going to give up. In fact, it seemed like people were determined to obstinately wait and cheerfully vote. Strangers chatted with each other, laughing as the sidewalk prophets walked by, filled with incredulity or surprise, or both. One pair opened up small chairs they had brought with them and sat down in line.
After roughly an hour and a half of waiting, Christian and I made it inside and out of the corridor, back into the central lobby of the sport and learning center. Back to square one! We could see the snaking front end of the line and exclaimed, “Here’s the short line!”
As we looked around, we realized that we had actually stumbled upon an amazing public community space. We saw a competitive gymnastics gym, with equipment for both men and women’s gymnastics. We saw a competitive swimming pool, then found the miniature water park next door. We looked up and realized there was a gym with workout machines on the second floor, and we came across signs boasting group exercise classes and flexible membership options (one day, one month, one year memberships).
Click on a picture below to open the gallery:
“Is this place public or private?” I asked a woman next to me, after breaking the ice by bumping into her about twenty times. “Oh, it’s public!” she said, a little surprised that I even asked. She told me that when they built the Redskins stadium (which is located a town over from where I live), the county allowed the stadium to be built on the condition that FedEx also build a sports and learning center. That’s how the Wayne Curry Sports and Learning Center came to be. It is owned by Prince George’s County, and it is superior to any private exercise complex I’ve ever seen.
In addition to all the amazing exercise facilities, there was even a small gallery with an exhibit about African Americans in medicine. The absolute final portion of the line took us through this gallery, where Christian and I learned about the humble beginnings but great successes of black hospitals, medical schools, nurses, midwives, and doctors.
Finally, we could see the room with the voting booths. We had electronic voting, so we checked in at a long table, showing the voting cards that were mailed to us. We were given a card to insert into a booth, and we frantically voted via touch screen. “I kept checking to make sure I voted the way I wanted to,” Christian told me afterwards. It really didn’t feel real, just touching a screen and voting for my president. But eventually, I hit “submit,” returned my booth card, and received my “I Voted!” sticker.
The wonderful part about voting early, as exhausted as we were afterwards, was that I felt remarkably immune to the election in the days to come. I didn’t care if anyone put out any ads, if anyone posted anything on Facebook, nothing. After all, I did my part.
Now, all that is left to do is wait and see. Where will our country go in the next four years? Only time can tell!

“Right Now”


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I put together this playlist yesterday called “Right Now.” These are the songs as set by shuffle.

  1. The Swell Season – The Rain
  2. Neko Case – Magpie to the Morning
  3. Bon Iver – Beach Baby
  4. Bon Iver – Babys (sic)
  5. Howie Day – She Says (live)
  6. Fran Nealy – Sing Me to Sleep (feat. Neko Case)
  7. Fleet Foxes – Helplessness Blues
  8. Howie Day – Ghost
  9. Bon Iver – Blood Bank
  10. Bon Iver – Woods
  11. Fleet Foxes – Innocent Son
  12. Fleet Foxes – Drops in the River**
  13. The Swell Season – Two Tongues
  14. The National – Bloodbuzz Ohio

A lot of overlap, sonically and artist-ically. I think that many of these songs are songs that obscure the lyrics with their music. They are songs that convey their meaning subconsciously. It is after you look up the words do you confirm what you suspected. And you learn a lot about the artists and about yourself in this process. “Magpie to the Morning” might be a real exception here, as I am still not completely sure what it’s about, but I’m past the point of wanting to find the absolute truth behind songs. I’m much more content to just let it filter through in waves.

A highlight to focus any discovery, or any interpretation of this post. I think “Helplessness Blues” perfectly describes the feelings of transition of the youth today. A song that hits the right notes in terms of harmony and experience. Completely understanding the low points of feeling purposeless while providing great direction. “And I know, I know you will keep me on the shelf. I’ll come back to you someday, soon, myself.” The best part is, for sure, “If I had an orchard, I’d work ’til I’m raw. If I had an orchard, I’d work ’til I’m sore.” Yes, absolutely, exactly the feeling of youth today, trapped in their technology, the feeling of wanting to get back but the inability to do so.

Anyways, if you like any or all of the songs on this playlist, I encourage you to go to your iTunes or to Grooveshark.com (the best site on the planet) and compile this playlist, either in this order, or any other.