This morning I woke up early, packed my lunch, and strolled down to the old Academy at King Edward school a few minutes before 9. I went in through the side doors like always, and lined up behind a half-dozen seniors. An intercom buzzed somewhere behind us, announcing that gym class would be cancelled. It’s Election Day in Edmonton.
I don’t know why I love this ritual so much. I’ve been telling people for the past week I couldn’t bear to go to the advance polls. It’s like opening Christmas presents early, I said.
As the crowd started to multiply around the gym doors, a couple people tisked about being asked to wait, and I found myself getting territorial about my four square feet in line. “If they want us to vote,” one woman scoffed, “they should open at 8.”
Finally the elections staff pressed the doors aside and asked us to line up single file. As we inched forward from one line to another, I began to sympathise with the woman behind me, wondering why they didn’t just simplify things so she could rush off to her errands.
But somewhere between watching an elderly woman point her cane back and forth between the voting booths, the registration clerk overly annunciating the electoral oath, and colouring in little navy circles on my ballot, my eyes got watery and I remembered why I love this whole slow, sometimes-maddening, rarely-idiotproof day.
Just for a moment, all of us have something to say about who’s in charge, and damn it, we’re all going to fill out that scrap of paper come hell or high water.
Thanks for cancelling gym, King Edward.