In November, I joined approximately 200 of my fellow Cantabridgians at our local polling station, waiting in a long, winding line to vote in the presidential election. Even though there were a few murmurs about the unprecedented length of the line, they were spoken more out of awe then contempt. After all, we were Standing in Line for Change, and we all knew it, and the sense of determination was palpable.
There was also a sense of community within the line; neighbors who had known each other for decades chatted as they zig-zagged along. A fragile diabetic teetering on his cane spotted a doctor friend and asked her for a podiatrist referral. Later, at the threshold of the voting room, he asked me for a refresher on the ballot questions. We waited civilly, performed our civic duty, and I walked out with a strong desire to high five my fellow citizens.
Tonight, I again walked into my polling place, this time to obtain my 2009 visitor parking pass. I was again startled by a long, winding line. The crowd was indistinguishable from Election Day, except this time, they grumpily traded stories about the number of tries they had made at the queue throughout the day. Last year’s permits expired on January 31; this was the procrastinator’s rush on the one day of the week that the dept. of transportation is open late.
When I finally made it to the next available window, the teller processed my pass quickly. Before handing it to me, she said, “I can’t believe you waited in this line for a visitor’s pass. Why not just make your friends come back and visit in two weeks instead?”