Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Voting by bicycle

Bicyclists often forget how they appear to the general public...

I did 'early voting' in this year's presidential election (very popular in NC). I stopped to vote one afternoon as I was biking home from work. A polling place was conveniently located in an elementary school along my normal route.

Everyone else had the same idea to stop after work, so there were lots of cars in the streets and circling the parking lot. As I rode, I was focusing on being seen, taking lanes, not getting hit, and all the usual stuff, as well as not arousing a policeman who was eyeing me suspiciously. I never thought about how I looked.

As I approached the school, I noticed the usual two teams of campaign volunteers, one red and one blue, running around like fire ants. Each time a voter walked from the parking lot toward the school, a volunteer from each side would 'pounce' on them, hoping for a last-minute conversion.

However, as I got off my bike and walked it toward the school, I had a different experience. At first, the two volunteers charged toward me, but as soon as they saw me, they stopped abruptly. They stared. They looked at each other. Then after about two seconds, one finally said in a somber tone "I bet you already know who you are voting for." I nodded and said "yes". They backed off, and let me pass.

"Well that was odd", I thought, as I continued walking.

And then I started to take off my helmet. And the macho goggles. And I looked down at the rest of my regalia. "Ahah", I realized. This must explain why the policeman was staring at me too. And I took off most of the obnoxious clothing before going inside.

I will definitely remember to think about how I look in the future.

Unfortunately, softening my appearance didn't fix everything. When I tried to sign-in, a little drop of sweat dripped from my nose onto the clipboard. And my hand was shaking so much (from working the handlebars) that I could not sign my name. I'll save the immediate reactions of the election worker for another story, but she was eventually cool about it.

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