Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Vote Early, Vote Often

Texas has a great early voting policy. I love to vote early and I was going to the doctor with Jackson so we decided to stop at the courthouse and do our civic duty on the way. Early voting is a simple and easy thing to do. In most cases. In some places.

Being an election official carries some sort of vicarious prestige, I guess. I know it does for the guy who is always in charge of it here. It seems each time I vote, I come back armed with yet another chapter in the on-going saga of "how does that racist, elitist, fundamentalist, dunder-headed Nazi get the idea that I like him and want to talk to him?!"

I knew exactly where our voter registration cards were. Jackson's was on the kitchen counter and my was in my desk at work. Since I had taken the day off work, I didn't feel like going in to get my card. We just took Jackson's. This should not be a big deal. There is a huge 3-ring binder right at the desk where you pick up your ballots. It has the alphabetized names of each registered voter and the corresponding precinct numbers. I know I live in precinct one. I just didn't know if it was 101, 102, 104, or 112. Did I mention Jackson brought his card? He did. But we lost it in the truck on the way over. It is a little truck. We searched it well. Couldn't find that bastard.

So, we go in to vote, driver's licenses in hand. For the first time in a long time, Mr. Jones, my aforementioned nemesis, was not the one I dealt with. He was busy telling the nice people behind me how he humiliated and embarrassed a voter who was Hispanic and how he was offended by this Hispanic person's over-reaction to his overtly racist comments. Nope, didn't have to deal with him. (It seems that there is some sort of rule around here that if you use the word Hispanic instead of Mexican, it somehow white-washes your racist intent. So to speak.)

I dealt with Mr. and Mrs. Senior-Citizen-Volunteer. They are very nice people. But damn, they are concrete thinkers. No abstraction for them.

You don't have your cards?
Well, do you know your precinct?
Well, what part of precinct one?

All very valid questions. But then, when they realized they were going to have to open the Book Of Names Of People Who Can Vote, they went into a tailspin. They took Jackson's license first to find him in the book. If he was not there, I think I would have been barred from voting. They found him. I gave them my license and name. It is different from Jackson's last name. I didn't see any need to change it just because I acquired a permanent roommate. (He didn't see any need to change his name either, so it has worked out well for the both of us.)

I could not make the nice man understand that my name was different. I said it LOUDLY and s l o w l y. I spelled it. I pointed to it on my driver's license. He continued to look for me under Jackson's name. Finally his wife caught on.

"Are you Alvin's daughter?" She asked out of the blue. Yes. Yes I am. (Its a small town.)
"Well! You will find it is just much easier if you take his name." She indicated Jackson with a haughty wave of her hand.

Jackson felt the need to intervene at this point, probably in hopes of preventing a nasty scene.

"Oh, I don't want her to have my name. Its easier to deny knowing her that way." He joked. Mrs. Senior-Citizen-Volunteer does. not. joke.

"Well, I know Alvin - he's a Baptist minister - and I know he didn't teach you that." Much haughty eye-rolling.

"Oh he's taught me a lot worse than that," Jackson snapped. At this point she obviously consigned both of us to the fires of hell as she had done all she could to prevent our careening down the slippery slope to eternal damnation, and told her husband loudly "She has a different last name."

He looked up from the bowels of the book. "Oh! Do ya'll live close to each other or something?"


The civil rights movement still has a ways to go out here.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

And give me $10 on pump #3...

I went into a convenience store this morning. Had to get a gut-grenade breakfast burrito. Felt like taking some risks with my cardio-vascular future. Anybody familiar with Allsups? I am not a cook - that's Jackson's job - and I am not nearly as discriminating as I should be with my nutritional choices. But even I normally steer very clear of the Allsup's fried burritos. But sometimes...

Everybody does it. Sometimes. When a group of friends gets together and start sharing secrets, certain things always happen. Somebody will always eventually bring up the burritos. (Although if you've recently imbibed, the burritos will come up on their own.) At first, you'll deny it, but you won't be able to meet anyone's eyes. Then you will come clean as you pick at the taco sauce stain on your jacket. You will admit that you too sometimes hear the siren song of the belly bomb. And then someone else will sit up a little straighter, get some backbone in their voice and inform the group that this week you can get two burritos and a tallsup for a buck-ninety-nine. And you know then what you're having for lunch. Yeah.

So, anyway, today I went in search of a sausage and egg burrito. Fried. With extra taco sauce. As I perused the lineup in the hellish heat-lamp diorama, I saw a small sign in the bottom right-hand corner: "Allsup's catfish - cooked on request."


Perhaps I need to rethink my life insurance coverage.