Yesterday was South Africa’s Elections 2014 and yes I sort-of-followed the debates from the top parties and yes of course i voted.
However, this post is definitely not about the actual politics though so feel free to keep reading…
It was declared a public holiday to enable all registered voters to put their ‘X’ on the long stream of ballot paper, and the voting stations opened at 7am.
Terry and I decided to go at around 7h30 (which in parent speak means closer to 7h45/8h00) and were standing in the line by 8am. We took Paige with us in her stroller, not to get to the front of the line, but because all of our usual baby dumping ground people were also voting.
We found ourselves standing behind a shy young girl who was voting for the first time, and in front of her was a young guy, clearly more confident about the day’s events. He and I got chatting while Terry un-clipped the little monster and proceeded to walk her up and down the line to stop her from having an impending stropp in her stroller. Mondli (the young guy) and I witnessed a few parents arrive and walk straight to the front, with their little ones in tow, obviously to score a place at the front. He suggested we ask one of the officials if we could do the same. I wasn’t sure but Terry was keen, so i walked up to the first official I saw.
Wouldn’t you know it, at that exact moment I must have started spewing pig latin or some other distant language from my mouth because the official looked utterly confused by my question. I gave up after a minute of trying to use pointing and hand gestures to explain my complicated query: “Can parent’s with small children go to the front of the line?”
When I got back to Terry, Mondli and Shy-Girl they thought the situation quite funny as they had overheard and witnessed it all. Terry and I made the decision to not even bother as Paige seemed quite happy trotting up and down the line waving at everyone, so we stayed where we were, with everyone else, moving at a pace that can only be described as almost-backwards.
Terry, Mondli, Shy-Girl and I proceeded to have a few rolling conversations – you know how it goes, you start talking about one thing and by the time you finish you have been through at least 10 different topics, ending on something that has absolutely nothing to do with what got you all started in the first place. It was quite pleasant 🙂
We were in line for 1 hour and 52 minutes (yes, I timed it) before we eventually arrived at the actual entrance to the building. Then it was a short 5 minutes to get up the stairs, scanned and given our ballot papers to cast our vote. And there, directly in front of us, was the reason for the almost 2 hour wait – there were only two ballot cubicles! Thousands and thousands of people registered at this one voting station, who have to get through between 7am – 9pm that day, and they limit us to two ballot cubicles. Idiots.
Anyway, on the way out we had to walk back down the line winding around outside, and jeez did we get some stinky looks from some of the people still waiting.
A few people made snarky comments like “Can we borrow your baby so that we can also skip the line to the front”
Well, I was understandably NOT impressed by that, and I proceeded to slow down in front of that ignorant twit, and project my voice so that most of the line could hear…
“We waited in this exact line, with our 14 month old child, and a sick person sniffling and breathing on my back, for 2 hours just like everybody else, to vote for a better future for our daughter, so I suggest you focus on why you are here instead of for how long.”
And we left.