Photo by J K Metz
Why does my first Presidential election have to be in 2020? For months, the news outlets have pumped out conflicting info on an hourly basis. The noise from social media has been deafening. One of those bits of info – the possibility of mailed ballots not making it in time to be counted.
Because of this, I waited to vote in person. That nearly proved disastrous. The bakery I work at closed a week ago last Sunday because of an outbreak. I immediately went into quarantine and took my first nasal swab test that day. The anger I felt towards myself for screwing up my chances to have my voice heard made my anxiety worse. I should have risked voting by mail.
Then yesterday morning I got a call that my second test was also negative. I was cleared to go back to work. Yes! I will get to vote after all.
I took a sip of coffee as I turned into the very full parking lot. This is not what I expected. There was so much talk about most people had already voted as absentee and by mail. Most in my district must have decide to vote in person. I finally found a parking spot in a far corner.
As I shut the car off, I noticed my sweaty palms and sour stomach. I closed my eyes and took a deep breath knowing I’d feel better once my ballot is cast. I tucked a small tube of hand sanitizer in one pocket of my light jacket. Then put my cell phone and AirPods in the other. I double checked that my utility bills and license were in the inner pocket of the jacket. I took another sip of coffee and then put a piece of gum in my mouth before securing my mask.
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“Benji! Benji! Benji!,” chanting drifted through the venue to backstage. I double checked the reflection in the mirror. Then wiped sweaty hands on my too tight red pants.
The last time I met with my manager, Monica, she had insisted on hiring a stylist. ‘The female fans love the way you look in them. The pictures of you in those pants get the most hits,’ she had said.
I replied, ‘Yeah, they’re twice my age and want to jump my bones. Then they want to mother me. Those middle-aged women scare me.’
I pulled at the pants until they felt more comfortable. My mouth was dry and I felt like hurling. I miss the days when I only worried about technical difficulties. Now, I have to worry about women grabbing me or a wardrobe malfunction.
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On a wet spring day in 1991, I waited for my old beast to be repaired. I had been there for twenty minutes when a mechanic walked into the waiting area with parts in each hand. His expression was a mixture of amusement and disbelief. “Found your problem. This motor runs, well used to run, your wipers. It fell apart as I took it out. There’s no saving it.” He chuckled. “The good news despite it being a ‘74 we can get the part, but it won’t arrive for several hours. We’ll get you back on the road before closing time.” He turned back towards the garage shaking his head as he walked away.
Since it was only ten in the morning and they closed at six, this wasn’t the best news. Eight hours was a huge window. There was no restaurant or even fast food within walking distance. I will likely be very hungry by the time my car is ready.
“Man that sucks. Glad I’m just here for an oil change,” said a guy sitting two seats over.
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gasped and jerked awake. Cold sweat covered every inch of my body; my
heart and head pounded from the adrenaline rush. At least this time
tears weren’t streaming down my cheeks or a blood curdling scream
escaping from my lips. The doctors would say that this was progress.
I would say that they don’t have a clue.
It’s been two years since I watched my platoon
mates and their hummer be blown to bits. It had been hit by an IED.
The hummer was instantly set ablaze. Patrick was the only one to
emerge semi intact. He was fully engulfed in flames and missing an
arm. He must have been the one who let out that unearthly scream as
he collapsed into a heap on the ground. The others were strewn about
in pieces. There was nothing I could have done to save any of them.