Behind the Sign, Behind the Mask

We’ve all seen the memes about 2020 so far. We’ve laughed at the YouTube videos and nodded our heads in agreement as the phrases resonate all too well with our lives. Currently, I am taking a break from the jabs at the year 2020 and focusing on the “can it get any hotter” Texas jokes. I’m serious over here folks; the heat index is rising and there is no end (or rain) in sight as I wipe my brow and pray for cooler temperatures in our days ahead.

I treat our days with caution as I know all too well that heat stroke is alive and well here in South Texas. My kiddos enjoy morning swims, ample indoor play time during the hottest parts of the day, and late evening bike rides around the neighborhood. To break up the inside time, sometimes we pile into the car and head to the library for curbside pickup, a drive-through carwash, and a Slushie treat for good measure.

Our latest library pick-up fell during the local election process, with our local branch acting as a polling site. The scene is not hard to imagine: political signs everywhere, arrows pointing voters in the correct and socially distanced direction, and volunteers for candidates doing their duty to impart last-minute pushes for their choice by waving signs, flags, and other election-appropriate paraphernalia. I continue to be impressed with the devotion many of these volunteers possess. They are out there for countless hours, happily ready to talk up their contender of choice while, for the most part, trying not to verbally judge if your choice differs from theirs. I’ve told myself that I would love to aid people in the voting process, patiently taking their information and guiding them to a polling booth. Truth be told, this probably won’t happen until I am the age of those you see in that very position, and I have to selfishly admit that I would ask for my volunteer efforts to place me inside. With the air conditioning. And the snacks.

Over the course of our most recent visit to the library’s curb, my kiddos noticed one of the volunteers standing in the direct sunlight. There he was in all his glory, proudly holding the sign of his top choice for a county position, masked and as chipper as one can be, despite the triple digit heat. While my kids noticed the flags he was waving and the cute shuffle dance he was using to garner the attention of passersby, my eyes observed something different. He did not appear annoyed, bothered, or aware of the skyrocketing temperatures that I was overcome with. I might be so bold as to say that he wanted to be there, impressing on others that he believed fully his person of choice was the most qualified to fill the position.

We had no choice but to pass him on our way to the designated book pick-up spot, which afforded me the chance to roll down my window to wave. Without me donning a mask (I was inside my car, after all), he could see me smile and hear my words of thanks clearly. I told him that his time spent was much appreciated and well noticed. We bantered back and forth in a light-hearted way about our differing ballot choices, the crowds, and surprisingly agreed that mail-in voting would be a nightmare for all. My children had the opportunity to have a backseat view (literally) to this encounter, but more so to his words that struck a chord with me.

This sweet natured and well-intentioned man informed me (us really) that out of all the cars that stopped thus far, ours was the only one with pleasantries to share. Due to the cracked state of our country, I should have been more surprised by this fact. I should have replied with statements of false beliefs and bouts of “I just can’t believe it” remarks. Sadly, those words didn’t leave my lips. I found myself apologizing for comments made by people I’ve never met and feeling frustrated by our negligence for kindness as a whole. My heart sank for this good and proud citizen who was showing up and standing up for some of the wonderful freedoms we have the privilege of enjoying.

As any good Mama on borrowed time, I was quickly reminded that I promised my children a treat to Sonic for a slushie of their choice. I politely asked my now favorite ‘volunteer for the other team’  if I could add a drink onto our order for him. I tried, in the thirty seconds I about had left, to persuade him to let me buy him a refreshing beverage, for the temperatures surely skyrocketed to devilish numbers in the ten minutes we spent chatting. Try as we might, our measures of good faith didn’t work, and we drove away with a smile and a wave. I wished him well and thanked him once again for going above and beyond the civic call of volunteer duties.

Thankfully, my stubbornness prohibited my new friend from getting his way, and not too long after departing, we rolled right back into the library with drinks in hands. Much to his dismay, I actually did not have a political change of heart, just a simple yearning to perform a good deed. I modeled goodwill and sent best wishes to his candidate of choice, gave him a wink for good measure, and a socially-distanced toast to future endeavors. I have no doubt I will see him come November, and I sure hope he recognizes me with a smile on my face and a drink in my hand.

I’m a native Pittsburgher through and through, but transplanted to Texas with my superhero cape to teach elementary school. I am a proud Mama to a spirited girl (2011) and a laid back boy (2014) who keep my days full of laughter, Legos, books, and more stuffed animals than should be allowed. As a stay-at-home Mama, I am constantly yearning for new ways to engage their minds, hands, and bodies with the city and community around them, while stealing a run and a cup of coffee or two. I can be found at the local library for storytime; the park for an afternoon swing; either of their schools to lend a helping hand; and/or the local splash pad to escape the heat. I’m not hard to miss due to the donning of Steelers gear in the fall and Penguins attire in the spring. I welcome and thrive on new conversations, friendships, and methods of rearing little humans. Favorite Restaurant: Paloma Blanca Favorite Landmark: Any of the Missions around San Antonio Favorite San Antonio Tradition: It's a tie between The Texas Cavaliers River Parade and The Battle of Flowers Parade, both occurring during Fiesta. Viva!