“hey lady! hey lady! they have curbside voting!”
a group of 15 or 20 people stand on the sidelines and shout at me as i get out on the lift of my van.
“i know, that’s great, but I’M going to vote INSIDE!” i yell back loudly, annoyed at having to have said this allllll morning already (i have some serious health issues going on & it seems as though everyone and their mother had a personal investment in making sure i did not go out in the rain).
i expect the crowd to be embarrassed or something but instead they erupt in cheers, clapping, and you-go-girl!s.
what’s more american dream-y than the disenfranchised stepping to the polls, right? i walk by, waving at all of the people like a star.
just kidding. the totally fun moment turns serious when one of the folks breaks the line and approaches me:
“i just want to say thank you.” she says all big eyed
“for what?” i ask pretending like i don’t know. i’m about to be really annoyed if she’s going to go inspirational crip on me and ruin my big first-time voting moment.
“for coming out to vote.”
oh great. she really is going to ruin my moment! damn! i brace myself for the on-coming pity party.
“my husband is handicapped. he just began riding an electric chair and i couldn’t get him to come volunteer with me. a few weeks ago he was at a store and after knocking out a whole aisle of candy, he is too embarrassed to come out. plus with transportation being the way it is, everything set up against you, you know?”
i nod and explain that for the first year that i used a powerchair, my specific expertise was in knocking down store displays, particularly large pyramids of shoe boxes. she smiles in shared understanding and continues to open up, telling me more about all the issues her husband is facing as someone who has just acquired a disability. we brainstorm solutions and exchange phone numbers. i go inside, vote, wave to her, and leave.
i’m not much for electoral politics but moments like these really remind me how important policy and participating in the political process can be as tools for the advancement of disabled people. as disabled people, our lives are intertwined in the system. the stakes are high and bad policies play out in intimate, real ways for each of us. i have hope that next time elections come around, she and her husband will be out on the sidelines together.
“Vote as if your life depended on it. It does.” Justin Dart.