I’m no crook or criminal. I don’t deliberately cheat the system although sometimes I make honest mistakes that make me look like I cheat the system.
Like when it comes to voting.
Last presidential election, I ended up voting twice, causing quite the ruckus.
Allow me to defend myself.
It was election year 2004. I bounce into P.S. 99 with my voting card in hand. I am getting some stares because I am overly ecstatic knowing that my vote is the one that is going to make the difference. There is a long line and each time it gets longer I chat more people up.
I ask them who there voting for. I pry into their personal lives. I nonchalantly rubberneck trying to get a peak between the striped-colored curtain and the Hospital Green voting booth.
“You, hello! You. You’re next! Go-“
Three different voices coming at me at once. Two are from behind and the other from the tiny, iron-fisted Senior ushering me towards the booth.
I don’t know what I was thinking but as soon as I walked into the booth, I pull the lever, the curtain closes behind me and then I pull the lever back and the curtain opens once again. I felt like a magician.
KALI: “I’m sorry, I didn’t get to vote.” I accidentally pulled the lever.”
BLUE HAIR: “Whatdya mean, you accidentally pulled the lever? You just voted!”
KALI: “No I didn’t. I forgot to vote. I just pulled the lever back and forth without thinking. Or maybe I just thought I had to wash the other voter’s vote off the machine so I can start fresh-I don’t know. I just didn’t vote-“
BLUE HAIR: “What the hell are you talking about? Have you ever voted before?”
KALI: “Yes, I have- I screwed up. I’m sorry-I didn’t vote-“
BLUE HAIR: Calling loudly across the room. “Bruce, I have a problem! This one pulled the lever but didn’t vote!!”
HUSKY BRUCE: “What do you mean she didn’t vote?”
BLUE HAIR: “I mean she didn’t vote. She forgot to vote”.
Impatient Woman in line behind me: “Just let her vote. She screwed up”
Outspoken Guy at the end of the line: “How do you forget to vote! That’s her problem. She doesn’t get to vote again.”
Impatient Woman: “She didn’t even vote-“.
Outspoken Guy at the end of the line: “She lost her vote. She already voted. No one gets to vote twice!”
Impatient Woman: “She doesn’t just lose her vote-!”
Bruce walks up to me.
BRUCE: “You didn’t vote?”
KALI: “I’m sorry, Sir, I did not vote-“
BRUCE: “So then why’de you pull the lever?”
BLUE HAIR: “She says she didn’t know. There’s always one in the bunch.”
Impatient Woman: “Just let her vote for Christ sake!”
At this point I am purple with embarrassment.
I lean into the Blue Haired Lady’s face.
KALI: “I really need to talk to you-“
BLUE HAIR: “What now!”
KALI:(Whispering) I’m dyslexic and I can’t read that well. The letters dance. That’s why I pulled the lever.
Blue Hair has an “Ahhhh she’s just stupid” look on her face. She leans into Bruce.
BLUE HAIR: “Bruce- she’s disabled!”
Bruce: “She shoulda said something. Eh, just let her vote”. He walks away.
So now I am in the voting booth, fake-crying real tears.
BLUE HAIR: “Why didn’t you just tell me?”
KALI: ” I was too embarrassed.'”
A reassuring Grandma’s hand on the shoulder.
BLUE HAIR: “Honey, you gotta ask for help…next time, just ask for help.”
I force a shameful smile.
We vote together. Grandma and me.
I walk out of the booth. As I exit, I walk along the long line of people still watching.
I stop in front of Outspoken Guy At The End Of The Line.
I lean into him.
“Hey”, guess what? I just voted. Twice”.