Posted by: Gregoryno6 | October 28, 2012

Voting Is Compulsory.

There’s one aspect of elections that  I don’t enjoy.

0430: I start the day with strong black coffee, followed by a glass of red. It’s election day, and I can’t face those annoying bastards with their how-to-vote cards on an empty stomach.

0459: Three hours to fill before the polling booths open. I consider my options. Domestic chores are immediately dismissed, leaving me with a choice of two unviewed DVDs – the final part of Kenneth Clark’s brilliant series Civilisation, or Lesbo Wars 3: When Librarians Challenge Cheerleaders. Given the importance of the civic duty I must fulfil, it’s obvious that thoughtful and mind-opening material will guide me toward the proper frame of mind.

0758: Miss Lonergan’s ideas on how Mindy and Holly can pay off their overdue fines are unconventional, to say the least.

0805: Dressed, I clean my teeth with another glass of red. The vilest rotgut to ever see the inside of a bottle, which is why there was so much of it untouched after the Christmas party last year.

0845: The nearest polling booth is set up in a school just two blocks away. What should be a short walk is made longer by the strange behaviour of the footpath.

0912: The card dispensers are all at their posts. I recognise one and give her my best well-behaved-admirer’s smile. ‘Miss Lonergan! I love your work.’ The woman stares at me and withdraws the card. The others behind her take a step backward too – a perfect opportunity to dash through unencumbered. I allow myself to get tangled in a question of identity instead. ‘I’m sorry,’ I mumble. ‘I thought you were… tell me, do you have a little red devil tattoo at the top of your right thigh?’

0938: Finding an alternative booth requires going back past home. This is fortuitous as I need to change my shirt and wash the blood out of my nose. Another glass of red dulls the pain, or at any rate moves it higher, the better to interfere with my brain functions.

1015: The next squad of ticket-wavers harbours no Miss Lonergan lookalikes and they are in fact oblivious to my presence as I go by. I stride through without a single soon-to-be-pulp-again instruction slip.
‘Great idea to set up outdoors!’ I tell the lady behind the table. Feeling an urge to rub it in I wave at the distributors who let me slip the gauntlet. ‘Better luck next time!’ I call – at which point I realise that their how-to-vote cards are actually newspapers. This leads in short order to two subsequent observations: the polling booth is on the other side of the road, and I am standing in front of a Lion’s Club cake stall.
Dignity is not easily maintained under such testing circumstances. I buy a dozen pumpkin scones and go home by a different route.

1105: Hunger is setting in: scones and coffee are deployed as lunch. The red wine has laid claim to my digestive tract and I feel the first stirrings of territorial conflict.

1140: Walking has become rather a challenge. I flag down a bus, and the driver impresses me greatly with his talent for finding potholes.

1210: The vote-spam crew is thick along both sides of the footpath. Resistance lowered, I submit and accept their offerings. I spot the large plastic bin already near-full with discarded how-to sheets but there’s a large group coming up behind me. The queues at the table are already long and I have more than enough time to develop an unwanted familiarity with the ghastly patterned carpet. The white spiral motif on the mustard background adds a few more degrees of nausea to my intestinal discomfort.

1235: As I linger over the ballot papers my roiling gut subsides. There is only one part of the voting process I enjoy, and the moment has finally arrived to decide: Who will I put last? It’s never an easy choice, the field is always full of worthy candidates.

1255: I’m done, and not a moment too soon. I’m planning a detour to the men’s room as soon as I’ve disposed of my sheets. Making sure to catch at least one distributor’s attention I perform my traditional ritual – tearing the sheets in two, and then two again. That’s one handful of how-to-votes that won’t get a second life. I open my hands and the pieces flutter into the bin. I glare triumphantly at my antagonists: ‘When I put something in a rubbish bin,’ I tell them, ‘I intend it to stay there.’ My gorge rises without warning to this profoundly appropriate cue. I fling my head down into the bin and puke my guts out.

2255: Though they are quite certain that vomiting into a binful of how-to-vote cards is an offence, the police cannot determine exactly which law has been broken. The sergeant who sees me out gives me a lengthy lecture about the various forms of political protest. But as he shuts the door behind me I sense that he admires what I’ve done, and respects the courage of my stance. I don’t bother to contradict him.
Calm and clear-headed I arrive home. Bed is inviting. Nevertheless, Miss Lonergan’s ethics demand further consideration.


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