Friday, November 21, 2008

"We're No Longer A Southern State"

I went to the drugstore today. Better living through chemistry, and all.

For the second time since I voted, I saw the man who helped me with my touch machine at election time. A big bear of a man, a white senior citizen, oozing friendliness and goodwill.

This time, in the drugstore, I decided to say hello. "Did you work at the polls?" I asked. "Yes," he said, "for early voting." "I thought you looked familiar," I said.

"Did you see me in the newspaper?"
"No, I saw you at the polls."
"You don't read the newspaper?"
"No. My husband does."
"I said some things I shouldn't have."
"Like what? That you were happy with how things went?" I smiled.
"I said 'We're no longer a Southern state.'"

I stared at him silently, uncomprehending. "What do you mean, 'we're no longer a Southern state?'"

"We're no longer a Southern state," he said regretfully. "Not like Kentucky. Or Tennessee. And Virginia--Virginia's no longer a Southern state." He elaborated, allowing as how he didn't like what had gone on with the election. No racist language was used, yet I was troubled by the sentiments implied.

I could feel my face become guarded. I looked at him blankly; disappointed, regretting I'd initiated conversation. He complained of people going to the polls in droves simply to vote Obama and a straight Democratic ticket. "That's what I did," I said. "Well, I voted for some Judges."

It became clear that while I had assumed he was a Democrat; he assumed I was Republican. Then I remembered. My candidate won. I can afford to be gracious. We discussed acne medications.

"Welcome back to North Carolina," he said; heading toward the cash register.

"Thank you."

As I walked away, he called out: "Forget everything I said."

I smiled. I can afford to be gracious.

Cross posted at BlueNC.

1 comment:

Neil Sinhababu said...

Alaska is a southern state! who knew?