If you read this space occasionally you may have noticed that multiple and similar incidents occur in my life on any given day. Today was one of those.
I set out this morning with to-do list in hand (always have to make a list and plan the best route) first stop the polling place to vote in the state primary, which happens to be an elementary school in a nearby town.
Entering the parking lot I notice it’s pretty full and smile to myself because primaries are usually low-turn out events. Spot a parking space and as I exit the car with license and voter ID in hand, a pretty young woman in a bright red dress, sporting a big smile and asking if I was there to vote hails me. Jokingly I reply, “no, I’m in 4th grade and late for class.” We both laugh. She asks if I always vote in primaries and when the answer is ‘yes’ wonders if she might ask a few questions. That's when I saw the van and cameraman waddling around from the back. They’re from a local TV station owned by notorious conservative. She explains that they just arrived, saw the smile as I past and thought I’d be willing to do so. Once I cracked that little joke, she said, she was sure of it.
With everyone in position before rolling camera, she asked a few truly sophomoric questions about the election process, campaigns, and primaries in particular, assuming I’m a bumpkin. My answers to these questions surprise her. She smiles again. Turns to cameraman...Ready?
Why do you vote in the primary?
Putting on my best on-air voice of authority she got a two-fur; voting in primaries is the opportunity to choose the most qualified person between or among candidates vying for the office. That, I said, is the way a good democracy works. The idea that both parties in the state have been toying with the idea of doing away with the process or limit the number of candidates is unrealistic because only those with really deep pockets could play. That can’t happen. (I didn’t think it was good, but the best I could do on the spur of the moment, with no preparation time.)
This surprised both she (I think her name is Jesse) and the cameraman who issued a low “wow” when the camera stopped. But, I wasn’t finished. Asked if she’d like my opinions of non-voters, they sprang into action and the camera rolled again.
I have no time for people who whine about government, but take no time to affect change by engaging in the process, that looking across the almost full parking lot I was more hopeful this time around. I ended with, if anyone complains about the process and they didn’t take part, in my eyes their arguments have no credibility.
This left them beaming. Camera guy shook my hand and they both thanked me for the time. As I made my way to the door I heard her say, “keep rolling until he gets inside.” I’ll be surprised if the interview is aired tonight. As I said, the owner is a wing-nut.
The actual act of voting was a lot harder; the shortage of poll workers and only two voting booths made every part of the check in very slow, indeed. But, that’s OK with me. It means people are engaged and that brings my hopes up.
Returning to the parking lot the news crew was interviewing two women; one heavy set matron-type dressed in a house frock, the other in business attire. I would have loved to hear what was being said, but there were other errands to take care of this day.
Next stop was a bit of shopping at a relatively new supermarket to the area. Again, list in hand (only buy what’s on the list!) and snatching the weekly sale flyer as I enter, there before me with three tables of equipment are the morning DJs of a local downstate radio station. I have no idea where the station lives, but I’ve seen their billboards around. Turns out it’s a country music station.
As I stand there behind the empty shopping basket, slack-jawed, with list and flyer in both fists this dude (with a face made for radio) thrusts a microphone with a filthy wind screen in my face, says we’re live and asks where I live (I tell him) and where I’ve come from before shopping today. Seems they’re surveying customers to determine the demographic. (Whatever these surveys tell companies about customers is beyond me.)
Me: Just voted in the primary election.
DJ: Really? You’re the first person we’ve talked with today who said they voted. So, who’d you vote for?
Me: None of your business. It’s a private matter. (he laughs)
DJ: Do you vote in every election?
Me: Yes, do you?
DJ: I try, but in this line of work, its…
Me: I was in your line of work and never had a problem getting to the polls.
DJ: (changing subjects) Why did you choose to shop at this particular store today? It’s not like you live around the corner, more like 10 or 15 miles, right?
Me: First, I didn’t come from home, just a few minutes up the road. Yes, you got the driving distance about right. This chain is new in the area and I’ve been pleased with everything I’ve seen and purchased, so it’s worth the trip.
DJ: (believing I will repeat his station's call letters) What’s your favourite radio station?
Me: National Public Radio – WSCL and WSDL!
DJ: Aw, that wasn’t nice.
Me: I assumed you wanted the truth. (trying not to get the guy fired, I laughed) The fact is, I can’t receive your signal where I live – aside from NPR I can receive only one other station and that one is right wing talk all the time. No music, and I like your music.
DJ: Aw, thank you for that, and thanks for talking with us.
Me: You’re welcome and thanks for being here, too.
So I wander off to do the shopping. Evidently the store manager has heard the on-air conversation. He approached as I reached check out, smiled, shook my hand and thanked me for what I said on live radio. I smiled back and thanked him for his management of such a clean, well-stocked store and for creating a relaxed atmosphere in which to shop.
Why are those who deserve it always surprised or embarrassed by a compliment?
Too bad I cannot receive local TV channels because I would like to see if the interview is aired and how it was edited. However, with satellite local stations and the three big networks are unavailable.
Anyway, I giggled all the way home. I mean, what are the odds???
No autographs, please!
And so it goes.