Sunday, October 05, 2008

Canada Votes

Yesterday we went to vote. We will not be home on the day of Canada's national election, so we headed dutifully off to the advance poll. Neither of us has ever missed voting in an election, we both love to complain about the government - so voting is a must. We talked several times about how we were going to vote, typically we vote for the same party election after election, but this year we figured to change up. We have, on occasion, disagreed and each voted differently, but typically we form the mighty hingsburger/jobes voting block.

We were second and third in line and we there minutes before the poll opened. By the time we got in and registered the small waiting vestibule was full. Jam packed full. Of people with disabilities. There was an older woman in a huge and mighty electric wheelchair, a young Chinese woman in a sporty manual, a whiny older guy who constantly said in a high pitched voice 'I have a heart condition' to any and sunder. Then there was the guy with cerebral palsy who nearly toppled over the crutch of a young guy in a cast.

I was trying to make it around the cramped area while the Elections Officer tried to retain composure when in fact he seemed to be, pardon me, freaking out. Everyone was orderly, everyone was quietly waiting their turn, but our very presence, in such large numbers, threw everyone off their game. The woman who first checked our identification kept glancing from me to the hordes of disabled folk sitting, standing, bobbing, weaving, whirring behind me. Like I was the first in the deluge of disability. She kept trying to get the Election Officer's eye to indicate to him that we were all there. She kept pointing to us all with a quick movement of her head. She looked like she had a tic.

When I turned to leave, he said to me, "I don't know how you'll get out!" as he looked at the seething mass of mobility aids in front of me. I assured him there would be no problem. As I pushed myself out, everyone quietly and efficiently moved creating a passageway.

See, we know how to be disabled, even if they don't know how to handle it.


Belinda said...

I voted on Friday--just before the crowds started and just to get it done. :)

This morning I happen to have blogged about our own bit of pre-election drama too! We must tuned into the same wavelength.

rickismom said...

Well, I am impatiently waiting for my overseas ballot for the American election. It SHOULD have arrived by now, I registered AGES ago.......

Cynthia Freeman said...

Hi Dave, I've been reading - and loving - your blog for years and it's taught me so much (for example, how much the word "retard" hurts people). I wanted to point out one minor thing you may not be aware of - you sometimes identify people by their race when it's not really germane to the story (the disabled woman at the polling place who was Chinese, the elderly woman on the accessible transit bus a few weeks ago who was Chinese, etc.). This is one way that people of color get "otherized" instead of being just another regular human being in the room. If the story's point is about race, then of course it makes sense to clarify people's race. But you wouldn't say "I heard a great joke from my black friend," you would just say "I heard a great joke from my friend," right?

Obviously this isn't some huge dramatic racist thing, it's just a subtle pain in the ass sometimes - the way that if you look racially different, people ask you "where are you from?" and when you say "Toronto," they say "where are you from ORIGINALLY?" Like they need to put you in a box. So I wanted to just give you a heads up about that, because I know you are someone who thinks about the ways in which our society makes people other, different, in order to make them less.

ct said...

"The woman who first checked our identification kept glancing from me to the hordes of disabled folk sitting, standing, bobbing, weaving, whirring behind me. Like I was the first in the deluge of disability."

Hah! Would've loved to be there.