I had a shitty day yesterday. A really shitty day. I was the chosen candidate for a job in a department that I’ve wanted to work in for years, and after being 95% positive that it was mine, everything I’d hoped for was slammed to shit when the Human Resources representative decided, after accepting my application and making me go through two interviews, and despite the fact that I am 110% qualified for the position and that the department heads really want me for the job, that my lack of a degree meant that I could not have the job. WHY they actually made me go through the entire process (and eliminate every other candidate), waste my time, and get my hopes up when they knew from the start that they would never hire me is a question that I’ve been asking myself again and again. Two months ago the position didn’t require a degree (because in reality, the job REALLY isn’t rocket surgery), and then one of the higher-ups arbitrarily decided that it does, and HR won’t budge on it.
So. Job that I’ve always wanted is apparently out of my reach forever. I cried on the way to pick up Eve from daycare, and then I cried on the way to the polls once I had her. I had already been feeling rather apathetic about voting, but at that point, all I wanted to do was go home and crawl into bed with my baby, defeated.
I made myself go, and in retrospect, I’m damned glad that I did. There was a line due to the after-work rush, and after waiting twenty minutes I informed the judges that I had just moved to the neighborhood and would need a provisional ballot. They pointed me to another table that didn’t have a line (dammit, if only I’d said something earlier!) where a young woman stood talking to one of the election judges.
They looked at me as I walked up and I said, “I just moved here.” The other woman responded, “Me too, we’re new to the neighborhood.” The judge continued talking to the woman, going into a lengthy explanation about filling out the form for the provisional ballot, then how to fill out the ballot itself, then what to do afterwards and how to get information after the election about her ballot and whether it had been counted. The woman took her ballot and went to some nearby tables to vote, and then it was my turn to talk to the judge.
I repeated what I’d said before: “I just moved here.”
She looked at me for a moment, frowned, and then said, “Your ballot probably won’t be counted.”
“I’d like to cast a provisional ballot,” I told her.
“I don’t think it will count,” she repeated.
“I came here knowing that I would need to fill out a provisional ballot. I understand that it might not count.”
“Well,” she said slowly, “if you feel like filling out all that paperwork…”
“Yes,” I told her. “I do.”
I don’t know what her definition of “all that paperwork” was, but it surely didn’t match mine. I filled out a short form asking such complicated information as my name, address, and party affiliation (Independents represent!). The ballot itself took five minutes to fill out with a pencil, and the judge did not give me any information about who to contact if I wanted to find out if my vote counted. In fact, she didn’t say much of anything to me at all after I made it clear to her that I was indeed going to exercise my right to vote, regardless of whether or not she thought it would count.
I can’t say for sure that I know what that encounter was about, but I have a hunch. The election judge was white, and the young woman that she helped so graciously – who was also new to the neighborhood, same as me – was white. I don’t know what went through her head when she saw me, a young black woman with a baby squirming on her hip, that made her decide to bend over backwards to explain the uselessness of my presence at the poll and discourage me, albeit passively, from voting.
I’m glad to say that I voted yesterday, even if only because it put a frown on that woman’s face.