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04 November 2008 @ 06:21 pm
[Earthling] The Earthling Votes  
Today, the earthling experienced the voting process for the first time.

Wow, is it harder to vote with a baby.

I was worried about lines, so I elected to use the earthling's stroller. It is very large and contoured and scary, with many wheels and features and options and a sunroof. It is the SUV of strollers, basically. It even has drink cup holders.

Unfortunately, driving it is like driving an SUV, too. (I also wonder if you'd need an SUV to transport it. Are these things supposed to fold up?) I suppose if we'd worked harder with it, I'd be good at it by now, but instead I devoted my energy to slings and wraps and as a result I view the stroller with considerable fear. (Yes, I know that eventually the earthling will be too big for his Maya wrap, and then I will have to face the stroller. Sufficient unto the day, thanks.)

But it occurred to me, while I was preparing to vote, that if the lines were really long, I might want to put the earthling down; having him the sling for hours and hours is hard on the back. And we live two blocks from our polling place, and I've been there many times and there is lots of room for strollers and it's all very level. So I put the earthling in his stroller. He was surprised but game, which is always his reaction to the stroller; he uses it so infrequently that I think it's an entirely new thing to him each time. And we headed off to the polls.

Where we discovered that things would not be going as smoothly as I'd hoped. Our polling place is an elementary school, and normally the polls are set up in the cafeteria/auditorium. This time, they set up the polls entirely in the teeny elevated stage part of the cafeteria/auditorium

Let me just repeat that: elevated. Stage. You had to go up a steep flight of steps outside to get into the polls, and the entire area was surrounded by steps. And I was driving a giant stroller I don't really know how to use.

What I should have done was unpacked my stuff, picked up the earthling, and left the stroller outside on the grounds that no one was going to steal a stroller, and if they did, it would serve me right for trying to use it. Instead, I attempted to navigate up the steep steps.

I know there is a way to do this. And I do know how to get up or down a few steps. But the steep steps defeated me, and I was seriously considering turning around and going home (and returning with the earthling in his sling; I was damned well going to vote today) when a random exiting voter said, "Okay, you take the back, I'll take the front." And we hauled that sucker up those steps.

Random voter, know that I love you. A lot.

The line was not as long as I had feared - just six people ahead of me, which is the virtue of voting during working hours in my area. Of those six, three had never voted before (which they shared with pretty much everyone; apparently they were nervous). One required a provisional ballot.

There was a very different composition of voters than I usually see. (Best Beloved and I vote at every election. You could send us a ballot for two Water Board members and a judge and we'd still go vote.) Usually it's just me and two old people, plus the guy I see at every election. (He is the man who says "thank you"; he thanks pretty much everyone in the building with great sincerity. I have been thanked by him, many times, even though I never do anything but stand in line near him. So I'm not sure what I'm being thanked for, but I always tell him he's very welcome. He came in while I was in line this time, and ended up one behind me. He did, in fact, thank me. He also noted that I now have a baby. I'm alarmed to think that I'm as recognizable to my fellow Persistent Voters as they are to me.)

This time, there was another person my age. There was even a person younger than I am. That never happens. Ever.

So I was pleased. The earthling was less pleased. I had forgotten that he considers the stroller acceptable only when it is in constant motion, because it is pretty boring to be down below eye level if you're holding still. So if you stop for too long, he starts making loud noises designed to attract attention - not cries, no, but squawks and yelps.

This did, in fact, get him a lot of attention at the polling place. I hastily hauled him out of the stroller and made a mental note to explain the difference between positive and negative attention when he's a little older.

So I was now holding a baby, pushing a stroller, and still trying to sign my name and get my ballot and go vote. I managed - the earthling graciously consented to be put back in his stroller while I inked my ballot, mostly because a poll worker came over and told him he was extremely cute - and then I had to get out.

There was no helpful lady waiting to get us down those horrible steps. But I remembered that ours is a disabled polling place. It has the little symbol on it. Which had to mean that there was a way to get out without going down the steps.

If you ever want to acquire a great deal of sympathy for people in wheelchairs, plus appreciation for the ADA (and a firm conviction that it does not go nearly far enough), try going around with a stroller for a while. You will discover that "disabled access" does not mean easy disabled access. It does not mean disabled access that is not embarrassing and uncomfortable and scary. It just means that, technically, there is a way to get a wheelchair through there.

To get out, the earthling and I had to use a scary lift thingy. To get us to the scary lift thingy, the poll workers had to basically take apart and rebuild the entire polling place, because, well, did I mention that it was on a very tiny raised stage? There wasn't room for a stroller or a wheelchair to maneuver.

The rebuilding effort did not make us popular with the people in line.

Then we got to the lift, which required a person outside the lift to operate. Which meant we got locked into a large metal box that was just barely big enough for the earthling's stroller - I kind of crammed myself in around the edges, wondering what someone in a very large wheelchair would do - and then we sloooooowly rumbled down into the netherworld of the cafeteria. And then we waited while the person operating the machine sprinted around, down the steps, and to the other side of the lift. And then tried to figure out how to get us out.

I am guessing that if you're in a wheelchair and claustrophobic, you just never leave your house.

Eventually we got released from our box. But at this point, we were in an area where voters weren't supposed to be. We had to go out through the kitchens; the kitchen workers told me to go to the office. I didn't understand why until I got onto the school grounds - the kids were there, so all the gates were locked.

And the office wasn't labeled. And I had never been in that part of the school before.

We wandered around for ten minutes while the earthling expressed his delight - he was moving! And he was in a brand-new place! And people were looking at him! Hi, people! - and I felt more and more conspicuous and uncomfortable. The area was full of teachers and kids, and the way everyone stared made it very clear that we were not supposed to be there.

Then one of the kitchen workers came running up and directed me to the office. She even held the door open for me. At that point, I just had to wind my way through a bunch of cubicles and find the unlabeled exit door, and I was free.

Best Beloved, as usual on election days, had to arrive at her library at an ungodly hour so she could open it for the poll workers to set up. So she went to vote when she got home.

She did not take the stroller.

 
 
 
margarksmargarks on November 5th, 2008 02:34 am (UTC)
omg. your baby is incredibly adorable. Also, what the f? how could they not have wheelchair access? or at least, easier wheelchair access? that is wrong wrong wrong.
tried to eat the safe banana: earthling churchillthefourthvine on November 6th, 2008 01:51 am (UTC)
Thank you! And, truly, I was startled by the disabled access problem, too. For one thing - if you needed disabled access to get in, you were screwed, because you had to ask the poll workers where to go. There weren't any signs indicating how to get in and get to the scary box lift.

I really don't understand why they switched to the stage. Maybe the school didn't want its floors messed up? Because, really, SO MUCH EASIER AND BETTER when they were on the floor.
(Deleted comment)
tried to eat the safe banana: earthling hey babythefourthvine on November 6th, 2008 09:22 pm (UTC)
Thank you! The earthling wants you to know that voting is SERIOUS BUSINESS.
scrollgirl: ww what's nextscrollgirl on November 5th, 2008 02:36 am (UTC)
Yay for voting! I'm so excited for your country, and I love reading about everybody's voting experiences. It's pretty amazing, how excited you all are.

And wow, the earthling has grown much! So cute :)
tried to eat the safe banana: earthling squeethefourthvine on November 6th, 2008 10:35 pm (UTC)
YAY FOR OBAMA! And, yeah, it's weird not to be all gloomy-faced in a presidential election, grimly choosing the lesser of the evils. I enjoyed it, disabled access issues aside. I could get used to this!
Moral Whiplashbkwyrm on November 5th, 2008 02:39 am (UTC)
Fish has helped me vote a few times. But always on my back in the Ergo or MeiTai, where she can't actually tear paper or lick touch-screens.

We had an SUV stroller when she was teeny, which led me to become very very good at various carriers in an effort to avoid using the SUV stroller. I couldn't get it up stairs, down stairs, or even up curbs, through doors, or through aisles in stores. I couldn't even get it around corners. It, too, had cuprests. In the end, we sold the SUV stroller to a used-baby-gear place and bought a McLaren Volo. Slightly more suave than the $10 umbrella stroller, still cheap(ish), easy to use and LIGHT. So, you know. FYI.
tried to eat the safe banana: earthling tiny humanthefourthvine on November 6th, 2008 10:40 pm (UTC)
Is the Mei Tai the thing you were wearing in Halloween pictures you posted? That one looks awesome for later on. (Right now, the earthling prefers to be up front, so the Maya wrap is perfect.)

We had an SUV stroller when she was teeny, which led me to become very very good at various carriers in an effort to avoid using the SUV stroller.

This is precisely the effect it had on me! Perhaps that's why they sell them.

I couldn't get it up stairs, down stairs, or even up curbs, through doors, or through aisles in stores. I couldn't even get it around corners.

I can do corners! Ours corners just like a really giant car: smoothly, but you need lots of notice.

And we have two steps leading up to our porch. When I think about using the stroller, I think about those steps - which I can technically navigate with it - and 99% of the time I reach for the wrap. I am just not cut out to drive an SUV.

I'm making a note about the McLaren Volo, you bet.
(no subject) - bkwyrm on November 7th, 2008 12:40 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - bkwyrm on November 7th, 2008 01:30 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - thefourthvine on November 8th, 2008 03:00 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - bkwyrm on November 8th, 2008 08:05 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - thefourthvine on November 8th, 2008 03:02 am (UTC) (Expand)
maaaaa on November 5th, 2008 02:40 am (UTC)
I've never commented here before, though I read your posts often, and with great delight. But I just wanted to say...The Earthling is beautiful, just adorable. And yay! you for surviving the new found fun of voting with a child in tow.
tried to eat the safe banana: earthling tiny iron fistthefourthvine on November 6th, 2008 10:42 pm (UTC)
Thank you, and hi hi hi!

And yay! you for surviving the new found fun of voting with a child in tow.

It certainly added an element of danger and challenge to the electoral process. Which, you know, doesn't actually need any more challenges, but that's parenthood for you.
rahm, baby, rahm!elbomac on November 5th, 2008 02:44 am (UTC)
What a beautiful baby!

And yay! for determination and voting!
tried to eat the safe banana: earthling churchillthefourthvine on November 6th, 2008 10:43 pm (UTC)
Thank you!

And YAY FOR OBAMA!
JaneDavittjanedavitt on November 5th, 2008 02:44 am (UTC)
Adorable baby! And, yes, I know exactly what you mean. Heavy doors and high curbs are tricky, too. I always break my neck trying to get to a manual store door before a mom with stroller so that I can hold it open for her.
tried to eat the safe banana: earthling hey babythefourthvine on November 6th, 2008 10:45 pm (UTC)
Thank you! And, speaking as the person who might BE the mom with the stroller, thank you twice. (I recently held the door for a person who was obviously in the just-broke-my-leg stage of learning to walk on crutches. "But you have a baby," she said, all distressed. "I'm supposed to be helping you." I appreciated the sentiment, but crutches you don't know how to use trump baby in carrier for sure.)
Martha Wells: Indeedmarthawells on November 5th, 2008 02:46 am (UTC)
She was right, he is extremely cute.
tried to eat the safe banana: earthling hey babythefourthvine on November 6th, 2008 10:46 pm (UTC)
Thank you! (He wants the WHOLE WORLD to tell him he is cute. It is his primary life goal.)
Dualbunnydualbunny on November 5th, 2008 02:50 am (UTC)
If I hadn't already voted, his intent little gaze would totally make me feel so guilty I'd *have* to run out and do it. :)
tried to eat the safe banana: earthling squeethefourthvine on November 6th, 2008 10:58 pm (UTC)
Babies are apparently a potent aid to the electoral process! (misspamela took hers out canvassing with her. I'm convinced that's why Obama took New Hampshire. How could you vote for McCain after a baby in bunny ears asked you to vote Obama?)

The earthling says: VOTE. I AM COUNTING ON YOU.
Vera: glowcopracat on November 5th, 2008 02:54 am (UTC)
Yay voting! And boo disabled so-called access. Well, it's a true description if you consider that it is the access that is disabled.

Anyway, your boy is just so cute!! But I expect you know that already :)
tried to eat the safe banana: earthling tiny humanthefourthvine on November 6th, 2008 11:03 pm (UTC)
Thank you!

And, yes, the access is indeed what was disabled. Grrr. But, hey, we got a good president out of it!
Vanilla  ... Spiked with Slivovitz: Bear and Dragon Reading by cincodemaygirjenna_thorn on November 5th, 2008 02:56 am (UTC)
Wow, is it harder to vote with a baby.

Hee, it gets better. In eight years, he'll be standing at your side, watching intently and explaining everything because he learned about it at school. Luckily, my polling place was more than half empty and the volunteers and judges and such were more amused by his commentary than irritated by the constant low murmur, though I did ask him to settle and wait when I acually stepped up to the machine.
tried to eat the safe banana: earthling tiny iron fistthefourthvine on November 6th, 2008 11:13 pm (UTC)
I remember voting with my parents. I had a tendency to read the choices from the ballot and demand to know why THOSE CHOICES. Loudly. My parents had to teach me many many times about the importance of PRIVATE votes. I'm really pleased they're now teaching all this in schools; easier than teaching it to your kid while you're waiting in line to vote.
Q: voteqe2 on November 5th, 2008 03:01 am (UTC)
ILU 127%.

(Earthling and TBB, too.)
tried to eat the safe banana: Batman in the spotlightthefourthvine on November 6th, 2008 11:18 pm (UTC)
WE LOVE YOU x 3!
(no subject) - qe2 on November 9th, 2008 02:39 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - thefourthvine on November 9th, 2008 04:25 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - qe2 on November 9th, 2008 04:08 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Rendylrensreality101 on November 5th, 2008 03:03 am (UTC)
I am gleeful to see I am not the only person to put the 'I voted' sticker on my baby and take pictures. Ours had a good time but we vote very early when all the old ladies my husband knew as a kid go vote and they all want to play with her.

The Earthing is adorable btw.
tried to eat the safe banana: earthling hey babythefourthvine on November 8th, 2008 02:50 am (UTC)
When the poll worker gave me the sticker, I realized that I finally had a use for the thing. (I mean, I always want the sticker, but I've never known why before.) Obviously they were designed so that parents could decorate their children and take photos demonstrating the serious importance of voting! I am please you also see this. We need many pictures of voting babies. (And I would totally love to see your voting baby pictures, if you post such things.)

And thank you! *beams*
Kathnakedwesley on November 5th, 2008 03:15 am (UTC)
Sounds like a ridiculous voting set up! Can't imagine why they thought it would be a good idea. Stairs can be difficult even for a non-handicapped person. Glad you managed to overcome. Such a cute picture! *melts*
tried to eat the safe banana: earthling squeethefourthvine on November 8th, 2008 02:51 am (UTC)
I know! And deathtrap stairs at that - seriously, like we need more obstacles to voting in this country. But I would have cast my vote if they'd put the polling booths on the roof of the damn school, so there. *fist of triumph*
Lucy: squeefscereta on November 5th, 2008 03:15 am (UTC)
He is adorable! I'm so glad to get to see him!!
tried to eat the safe banana: earthling squeethefourthvine on November 8th, 2008 02:53 am (UTC)
There are many additional pictures of and posts about the earthling now available to you! I have not been hiding his light under a bushel at all. I am besotted, totally.