Parking was tight and the line ran out the door. I’ve been voting here for 11 years and had never seen a line like this. As I waited, I looked around me and listened in on conversations. I looked around at my fellow voters. “Who are you voting for?” I wondered. I found myself hoping, wishing. I looked at clothing, facial expressions, anything, trying to glean the intent of each voter. Who were all these people? What vision did they hold for our country?
The line moved forward slowly. Occasionally, I chatted with the people around me. We talked about the line, the weather, the temperature in the room. For a few minutes, we discussed the new rank choice voting system and how that worked. We slid in and out of inconsequential conversations.
“I wonder if those are for people who forgot their reading glasses,” the woman in front of me commented, gesturing to the “check in” table. On the corner by the ballots were a couple of pairs of glasses.
“I hope so,” she continued, “because I forgot mine.”
As we watched, a recent voter submitted their ballot, then walked over and set a pair of glasses back on the table before exiting.
“Oh, they are,” she said, clearly relieved.
Something about those glasses spoke to me. I wondered if having reading glasses available was routine at polling places, but suspected it was a small town gesture. They were a touch of humanity that cut through the tension of this day, of this moment. I’d joked several times recently that my ballot would sizzle when I submitted it, as I am desperately concerned about the current state of our political system. But those glasses…
Two pairs of glasses just sitting on a counter. Ready and willing to help anyone. No matter who they were voting for. No matter what vision they had for the country. Addressing a common frailty. They cut through all of the vitriol and turmoil to connect us. Behind them was a person who saw a need and addressed it, calmly and quietly. Without fanfare.
I’m not sure what will happen with this election, but I do know that I’ll think about those glasses again. I’ll remember them–two pairs of glasses sitting there, on the edge of the table, available to anyone who might need them.
I’m thankful for those glasses.