“I could have been a chemist,” he kept saying in between handing out ballots. I wasn’t sure what that meant or why he would even say such a thing. Was it upon learning that one of my children was a chemist and my husband a chemical engineer? Would the story have changed if my son was a dentist?
All afternoon (I’m not kidding), he regaled me with chemists. This cousin was a chemist, that uncle was a chemical engineer, the other cousin was a chemist. And that cousin’s brother-in-law. Every once in a while he’d remind me, that he too, could’ve been a chemist.
After quite a long bit of this (and they were all educated at Stanford, Princeton and the like), I asked, “Are you making this all up?”
Once I revealed my ties to Schenectady, he introduced Jack Welsh’s recent death, some famous electrical engineer that studied at Union College and names of people who lived in Scotia. I had to keep reminding him that I was ten years old when I moved away.
Eventually, he shared his passion about working the food bank in Newton. Eighteen years. He knew a lot.
It rained after dark, sometimes hard enough to sound like hail hitting the roof of the gymnasium. Energy was high. Turnout was high. People really wanted to vote. People brought children and dogs, health care aides.
In Massachusetts, if you’re a registered independent, you can vote in the primary but you have to pick a party at the table. ‘Here’s the Republican ballot.’ ‘Here’s the Democratic ballot.’ I cannot tell you how many times a person when asked, hesitated. Paused as if making their minds up right then and there. Are you serious?
I mean, plenty of people were unsure of their Democratic pick right up until the moment of voting. Because of SC, things were very fluid.
But to not know if you were embracing or rejecting Donald Trump? And then to decide, as if on a whim?
The warden, a woman shorter and wider than I with a wry sense of humor, had had it with us poll workers by the end of the night. We were taking too long to count. The entrance counts weren’t matching the exit counts.
“Split the difference,” she kept announcing regarding bigger and bigger discrepancies.
A cop who had the locked case of ballots to deliver to City Hall gave me a ride back to my car.
I could have been a ballerina. A Jungian psychologist. A scholar of Japanese antiquities. A mathematician.
(Two out of four?)