They’re not nearly as noticeable as they would be, to say, Jabowormafallorini from the planet Traflmadorasixzion9, but there are signs everywhere along the road. If the alien, Jabowormafallorini came to visit Earth, he would surely want to learn about our daily lives, and with it our transportation system, and with that the plethora of instructional, cautionary, and informative signs strug all along our road system. After some time, we would be able to teach him what they meant – most of them, minus New York City parking rules, of course – but if Jabo were to stop by, say, now during election time, we would also have to explain to him the blooming rows of metal-wired and plastic-boarded political signs suggesting who should drive our planet’s prosperity; at least until next sign season.
We saw plenty of just such signs on the way to our polling station. But who the hell really were all these people? As it was a non-presidential, non-congressional, non-senatorial race, I hadn’t received any information on any candidates in the mail. No emails. No college-age canvassers knocking on my door to explain why their person needed my vote. The only commercials I had seen were late-night mud-slinging jabs about bad guys in other counties, or districts, or towns or wherever else. All I knew was that everyone else was raising taxes, cutting school aid, and didn’t know how the hell to do the job that was up for grabs.
But I did see one commercial the night before to vote for prop one; essentially, to allow casinos in New York State. If I couldn’t figure out who the hell was running for what and why, at least this proposition seemed like a fairly straight-forward yes or no decision: vote this way if you want that to happen.
Perhaps there would even be other propositions, and that hope was encouraging enough to spur me on to the polls. My brother and I arrived, not surprised to find ourselves to be the youngest voters by about thirty-five years. The polling people looked up our names. There we were; a pair of ‘B’s for ‘blank’ among a sea of ‘R’ for republicans and ‘D’ for democrats. They always seem to glance suspiciously from the ‘B’ up to your eyes as if to say: “Too lazy to choose a side, huh?” If it were up to me, I’d be listed as an ‘N’ for ‘non-affiliated’, or ‘T’ for ‘thinker’, or ‘I’ for ‘I chose not to pick either side of the same goddamn coin.’
Filling out the actual ballot sounded much more confusing than it turned out. Whatever the kind old polling worker explained to me I forgot as I went over to my shielded voting stand. “Let’s just read this from left to right,” I thought. The ballot soon made perfect sense, although, as I had anticipated, none of the candidates held any meaning for me. It was now my job to elect somebody for each job, and that seemed like a hell of a job for me as a ‘blank’ given that there were no ‘blank’ candidates on the ballot. I thought, selfishly: “Well then who’ll try to screw me less?” The choices were, essentially, either the democrat or republican. I flipped over the ballot to the propositions.
Ah, and there was prop one in its explanatory detail, as well as several other juicy sounding proposals. After carefully reading over each proposition several times and giving them my confident vote, I submitted my ballot and walked out, proud to have played my part our great, ancient election process.
“Who’d you vote for?” I asked my brother as we walked back to the car.
“Write-ins,” he said. “You got my vote. You?”
“Abstained,” I said, and then frowned. “Though now that I think about it, I probably should have at least written in: ‘Suck on that data, NSA,’ for at least one spot.”
Ironically we voted opposite on all of the propositions except for the one extending civil service credit to disabled veterans and another about extending the age limits of judges that we both agreed made them sound a step too much more pope-like.
Although we disagreed on the other propositions, we understood the reasons for the other one’s votes. “How could you vote to open lands up for mining?” my brother asked me.
“I figure if there’s something worth mining then they’re gonna get to it eventually anyways. If we can attach strings to it now, then I’m all aboard.”
“I guess,” he said. “But they don’t have to have my vote.”
And so that was that. We voted for what we thought we knew were the best choices, ignoring the valiant efforts of the late-night sign planting people to sway our hearts and minds at the last minute on our way to the polling station. Maybe if they had planted bigger signs we could have been lured. But as stubborn ‘blanks’ our heads always seem to be in the clouds, rather than on the signs put in the ground around us.
Those signs, as always, will disappear as the leaves continue to change; vanishing until next year when the election winds whip up once again. Jabowormafallorini might think that this is a strange phenomenon, at first, but after enough time he would surely understand what it was all really about. And then he too, could maybe join the ranks as an informed voter, be he an adamant, true red white and blue ‘D’, ‘R’, or
Oh, all the things I’d sing now if I weren’t a shell.
But who remembers what I should’ve said?
I am so sorry
that it ended this way.
That I hit you
as I plowed my way down the blacktop road
to the glare of the bar after a long day’s work.
I am sorry that you never had a chance.
That we never met
before my fender met your confused, blinded stare.
I am sorry that you’re still there now,
lying flattened and smushed
under many crooked black streaks.
Out in the sun and the rain.
I’m sorry I was so tired
and the night was so dark
and I was so thirsty for what I’d earned.
Sorry you didn’t see me.
Sorry I didn’t see you.
Sorry that I’m sorry,
if that’s at all helpful to you.
Every breath is a fresh new start.
Just sneezed and burped simultaneously for first time.
Head didn’t explode.
*Note to self: switch from list of rational fears to irrational fears.
Customer: “So do you think that bookstores are on their way out forever?”
Me: “Well, maybe, but I think that everything’s going to eventually end forever.”
Customer: “Not Pepsi.”
Like if you ever stop,
to realize that
even the dirt is beautiful,
when held up in the light of the sun.
As it is at its birth.
As it is at its death.