So I decided to get in line, but first I picked up the kids from school. Sure, part of me hopes that they'll learn to enjoy long lines with the same reverence I do, but also I figured it would be nice if my kids had at least one memory of me doing something responsible.
But as much as I like standing in line to buy stuff, the early voting line almost broke me. When I arrived, the line only ran down one side of our tropical library and was fairly short, maybe 300 feet long. Soon after, though, the computers that checked for voter eligibility went down and turned a 30 minute civics lesson for my kids into something a little more difficult.
You see, my kids have to the ability to behave for roughly 29 minutes. And sure enough, for exactly that short period of time, my kids amused themselves by collecting rocks at the edge of the parking lot and asking precocious questions about the election process. At about 30 minutes, though, you could see their kidness cracking through the good behavior, like monsters awaking inside ancient terra cotta statues.
Some of the crowd was getting surly, too."I thought the whole point of early voting," said one middle-aged guy in dress slacks, "is to avoid the long lines on election day. This stinks."
A lot of people in line agreed. Since early voting started, we've been seeing reporter after reporter detailing the difficulties and long lines for voting in this neck of the woods. Standing in the same place without moving only confirmed the news reports that was something potentially wrong here - that South Florida was screwing up again.
And as my kids flitted in and out of the line, throwing leaves and arguing over rocks, I started to feel the same way. I started to feel like voting was harder than it was supposed to be.
And then I remembered something.
I stood in two separate lines to buy the last Harry Potter book. I once stood in a mile-long line to get into an event at the San Diego comic convention. I once waited five hours to buy a video game console. In other words, I will stand in line for hours just to get some amazingly stupid shit.
And I remembered, too, that this is South Florida. There are a hundred Guatemalans within a half mile who traveled a thousand miles to get to the city I live in. That's a pretty long line, too. I bet any one of those people would trade places with me, even if it meant spending two hours in line once every four years.
Don't believe the media and don't believe the grumpy people in line. Our system is working, even when the voting machines aren't. Our system is working because I can stand in line with kids without worrying about their safety.
I finally got to vote. And I'm glad my kids did see it. If you're reading this, I hope you vote - no matter who your candidate is, no matter how busy you are. Our kids are watching. And some of them are going to remember that their mom and dad once stood in line for eight hours to buy a Wii, but they couldn't find one extra hour to vote.