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Hot Coffee For Your Vote

November 2, 2004

Listened to the show Saturday and it was not bad. I'll admit I was worn out and didn't do much of anything during the show. I'd been out all day holding a sign down on the corner by the gas station. I've never done anything like that before but for some reason voting seems really important this time around and standing there holding a sign and waving felt like something. Mr. Sundberg teased me a bit about my recent streak of high-maintenance behavior. This was after I slapped a sticker on the back of a jacket he wore on his way out to do a motivational talk on positive thinking. He was a bit angry with me after someone in the audience pointed it out and there followed what turned into a political debate. He explained that he didn't want to mix up politics with the message he was trying to get across. So I apologized. Then, after he was in bed, I went out to the car and took the sticker off the back bumper. It's not that we don't agree. We're voting for the same person. It's just that he doesn't want the whole mess of everyone else knowing, where I don't see it as a problem. It's human nature to have an opinion, and disagreement shouldn't mean you can't have coffee together.

So last week I called up the local political headquarters and offered to help. I spent five days baking brownies and pie and hauling it all down to the volunteers. I made phone calls to strangers who either hung up on me, hollered at me for even bothering, or said how great it was that I called, and yes, they were voting. Just when I was going a little nuts and starting to play little songs with the buttons on the phone, someone showed up with those lovely posters and off I went. I made a sandwich out of two of them and headed on up to the intersection. The most visible spot in town. I stood there in my jeans and hiking boots and my barn coat and waved like all getout all day Saturday in that drizzly rain. It was a lot like making those phone calls. I'd wave and some people just gave me a look and drove on by. One man stuck his middle finger up in the air and hollered something about wasting time. But most people waved. Jerry Sorenson at the gas station brought me an umbrella when the rain got a little wild, and around lunchtime a car pulled over and a woman handed me a cup of hot coffee and a fresh cinnamon roll from the bakery.

Later that night, when Mr. Keillor sang out loud and clear, "You don't love God if you don't love your neighbor," I thought about the word "neighbor" and how it always made me think of fences. I thought about that woman, too. The one who brought me hot coffee. How she smiled and said she thought I looked chilled. And how, as she drove away, the VOTE FOR sticker on her car was not the same one I'd stuck on ours and how one might say that on Election Day we'd be canceling out each other's vote. Which tells me things are going to be just fine.

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