Voting and Income Survey

I

 was working on my landscaping project Monday afternoon when a couple of nine-year-old neighbor girls passed by.

 

“How was school?” I asked.

 

“Great,” G—- said, “we got to vote. I voted for Obama.”

 

“My mama is voting for Obama,” M—— said.

 

“Who are you voting for?” G—- asked.

 

“Jesus,” I said.

 

“You can’t do that.”

 

“Yes, sir. You can write in anyone’s name. Even Mickey Mouse. In fact, some people do.”

 

“Who’s Mickey Mouse?” G—- asked.

 

Making mouse ears with my hands, I tried to imagine what it must be like to grow up without believing in Mickey Mouse. Then I explained that it’s a secret ballot and voting is secret.

 

“I’ll bet you’re voting for McCain,” G—- scoffed, but was unable to explain whatever made her think so. Perhaps my secretiveness.

 

Hey, give me a break! After all, I was just a guy with a shovel. Having a nine-year old suppose she can read me like a book is a deflating experience.

 

 

A

re children no longer taught that inquiries about voting, earnings, or religious leanings are off limits?

 

Three hours later, after my community college class in Microsoft Word 2007, I stopped for beer in a local party store. (The small neighborhood markets in Michigan are called party stores.) This one is a cruddy place where much of the clientele comes from the 900-unit mobile home park across the road. The proprietor, a bachelor in his thirties, born Roman Catholic in Baghdad, keeps a picture of the sacred heart of Jesus over the door to his office. This fellow is very persnickety about some things, although not the outside appearance of his store, and more than once he has commented on my hair—that it’s too long, for example. It can be infuriating, and there have been long spells when I’ve simply stayed away. One of the cashiers is a busybody in his early twenties. Last evening it was quiet in the store, so this young fellow asked if I’ve driven any interesting cars lately. Then he wanted to know how it works with press fleet vehicles. I explained to him about Automobile Magazine’s Four Seasons fleet, with eight or so cars that stay around for a year-long test, these being available to me as a contributor to the magazine. He asked if Automobile is my sole client. I named a few others I write for and said there’s also a bit of copywriting for ad inserts.

 

“How much does that pay?” he asked.

 

“It just depends,” I said, gathering up my purchases and leaving. The last thing in the world I’d ask is how much he makes; wouldn’t he return the courtesy?  

 

Who I’m voting for and how much I make, all in the same evening. Somehow I got home without being pulled over and asked my religious beliefs. 

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