November 2, 2004
An old man came up to us in line and said, “I remember when people didn’t
vote!” We were about halfway across the parking lot from our Cave Creek
polling booths, and we laughed. The long lines to vote were incredible all day.
Kathy called me at 6:15 a.m. on her cell and said the wait was already over an
hour. I thought to myself, “I’ll just wait for those fitness Nazis to shoot
their chads, and I’ll waltz in at later and breeze through.
At about noon, I drove up to Carefree to pick up some film at Foothills
Photo and Tom Darlington was under construction so I detoured through the usually deserted downtown. It was packed, with cars. I looked around for festival signs, saw none and then saw the crowd in front of city hall. The town was full of voters! Wow! It looked like an Elton John ticket window line.
After a lunch at China Joy (spicy hot beef, hot tea, $6.25 plus 2$ tip, cash), I coasted down the hill to Cave Creek and cruised by city hall. Every empty open space on either side of the road was jammed with cars. Two sheriff’s deputies directed traffic. It also looked like a concert site (but with more of a Hall & Oates feel). I quickly checked out the line and saw it went out across the parking lot to about fifty yards, so I cruised by, went into Paul’s Barbershop and asked Bev if I could get a haircut. I was going to let the line go down a bit, then walk over and vote. Bev caught me up on all the Cave Creek gossip (a former radio host rides a girls bike by her house every morning in fluffy slippers and red shorts, and a former mayor is being a doo doo head).
At two I walked over to city hall, only now the line was twice as long as it was when I drove by a mere half hour ago. I waded in and the wait began.
It’s funny how much of life you can catch in a slow moving line. A self-described unemployed woman behind me said to the guy behind her, “Did you know Theresa Heinz Kerry gets all of her catsup from overseas and not one American farmer gets a penny?” I wanted to turn to her and say, “Let me guess, you listen to AM talk radio.” But I didn’t.
After an hour and a half and maybe a 50 yard gain, a woman in front of me pulled out her cell, dialed a number and said, “You were right. I should have voted absentee.”
The smokers got out of line and blew their smoke towards the Territorial Bar & Grill across the street, where they had erected a homemade plywood sign that said, “Electoral Special: hot dog and soda $3.” It was a clever, capitalist pig idea but I never saw any takers. And I had a lot of time to monitor their business activity.
By hour two we got up to the handicap parking space (still about 75 yards
from the door), and a voting volunteer came up to the car with a ballot, handed it to an old woman in the front seat and turned away so she could vote in private. Several cowboys behind me taunted the volunteer: “Hey, I’m handicapped too, give me a ballot.”
The woman smiled and said, “We’re not talking about your golf game.” It was clever but I imagine it was a line she had perfected all day.
As the line inched along, we learned more about each other: “So then during my second marriage, I moved from Tucson and had a couple kids.”
Finally, three and a half hours later, I voted. I had lost a half day’s work, but one scene stayed with me as I drove home in the dark. A barmaid from the Satisfied Frog got out of line when she saw someone she knew coming across the parking lot. The guy, who had on a suit and tie was heading for the end of the line, which by that time, was stretching around three sides of the long parking lot. “Hey, why are you here?” she yelled at him. “We’re just going to cancel out each other’s vote.” They walked up close and said something we couldn’t hear. And they hugged. I couldn’t imagine that scene taking place in Baghdad.
”Vote for the man who promises least—he’ll be the least disappointing.”
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