Topic: "Philosopher Kings" (4)
It was almost exactly two hours from the moment when Frodo and Sam had joined the end of the line, until they were handed their ballots. Frodo is notoriously impatient, and is widely-known for irrational outbursts when suffering incompetence. This day however, was very different.
The young man immediately in front of the Hobbits had moved to the Shire a year ago from Seattle, and this was his first voting experience in a non-coastal setting. About 100 places in line ahead, but only 20 feet away, were a couple of black guys who offered to trade places with Sam for $20. When they mentioned that they had been in that exact spot 45 minutes earlier, Frodo authorized the beginning of negotiations. Their good humor told Frodo that he would have to suffer delay, and like it. Soon, Frodo began to find that he was enjoying himself, and, what's more, so was everybody else.
There was a little boy eating a saltine cracker, which he offered to Frodo from his stroller. Since he was not yet to a communicative level, Frodo was hesitant to accept such a gift. Frodo asked him if he knew that he was a part of history, and his mother smiled at Frodo. She was snapping his picture with a digital camera.
There was a college-aged young lady, reading a best seller familiar to Sam, but unknown to Frodo. She carried a bookmark which read "Yes We Can."
Frodo returned to his Grisham paperback ("Playing for Pizza") until he was interrupted by the stir all about a talking head from the local Faux News channel who was chronicling the long lines associated with early voting in this, one of six available locations in the county. Had it been Rachel Maddow or Andrea Mitchell, Frodo would have grinned "that" grin in order to elicit an opportunity to be interviewed. The reality was that whoever she was, she still appeared to have acne bumps hidden under a Clearisil-colored mountain of make-up. Frodo turned his attention back to the real people.
The poll workers were both efficient and sensitive. One grey-haired lady explained exactly where the restrooms were, and how to access them without losing ones' place-in-line. Another cautioned everyone to "turn-off" their cellphones once they entered the building; the why was not explained, mainly because no one asked. Frodo didn't care. Another poll worker asked if anyone were over 75, or had any physical discomfort, and for those who indicated in the affirmative there was an immediate guide provided to the front-of-the line. No one either complained, or seemed to take any notice whatsoever. That, dear reader, was what caught the full bore attention of the Hobbit.
Nobody complained. It was as if everyone knew that this was an important day, and that what they were doing was equally important. Perhaps, as Frodo surmised, each person there, and in lines just like them in other locations, was moved by something between a sense of history, and a sense of participation. No one, at any point, ever mentioned a candidate's name, or how they were going to vote.
Frodo likes to think that he was wise enough to figure out for whom all of those people were voting. Perhaps he is, but beyond that intellectual arrogance, there rests the knowledge that, for whatever reason, Frodo and Sam had just participated in a plebiscite. People were determining whether or not, and at what level, civilization and life upon our small, blue planet would proceed against the many challenges we all face this day. It was this experience which was guaranteed to Frodo by his Uncle "Junior," by Johnnie Jenkins, and by all those who rest beneath marble stones in Arlington and places just like it.
Damn, it was a good day. Frodo wishes he could vote again.