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  • Writer's pictureCatherine Smart

Votes ‘n Dads ‘n Stuff

This election meant a lot in so many ways. One of the coolest parts by far was that my son, Mr. Thing One, voted for the first time. The next coolest part was that he called me to tell me about the results.

I remember my dad driving from Eastham to Boston to get me and bring me back to Eastham so I could vote in 1988. He had to take a half day off from work, which was a big deal for him, and us, economically. Along the not-uncrowded highway between Boston and the Cape, he let his irritation and stress influence his driving speed a teensy bit. We got pulled over by a Statie and got a ticket. The ticket was for over $100, which was a lot, especially considering that this was more than 30 years ago.

The ticket incident did not go over well with the paterfamilias. Dad was a believer in expressing himself verbally, and he certainly did that day. There was muttering, there were replays of the conversation, there were quiet moments of rumination followed by star-spangled outbursts. It was impressive, and eloquent, and let’s be honest, very helpful for me when I became the parent of teenagers.

But I digress.

After our entertaining jaunt, Dad got me to Eastham. I voted, which took all of 10 minutes. Then he drove the two hours back to Boston to drop me off. By this point it was rush hour, and traffic was thick. Dad had to work the next day, and he was also taking classes in night school. Time was an important resource, and he had spent a lot of it on me for this one event.

As luck would have it, on his way back home, Dad was apparently putting his foot down on the gas...again...and got another $100-plus ticket. At least it was from a different State trooper.

We learned a lot of helpful stuff that day. For instance, telling the Statie, “I know how to drive fast! I was stationed in Germany for years!” is not a recommended way to try to talk yourself out of a ticket, especially when your daughter is in the front passenger seat stifling a giggle. Also, for the young people, make sure you have a plan for getting yourself to the polling location. This is particularly necessary if you are going to school far away from where you are registered to vote. Logistics to 18 year old “Then Me” tended to be more about Friday night’s plans than specifics of how to participate in democracy, though. Much older “Now Me” would totally be planning that trip out a month in advance, to include which snacks to bring for the car ride (Cheez-Balls, duh).

Anyway. $200 in tickets and a Monster Truck Rally’s worth of gas money later, my sweet daddio accomplished his mission of making sure I voted. In the process, by willingly subjecting himself to such a horrible, no good, very bad (and very expensive) day, Dad showed me how seriously he took the privilege and responsibility of voting. When I sift through all of his other (very) colorful language from that day, his message shines through like...well, like the pens that the State troopers used to write out those tickets.

Until Dad died in 2015, we still talked about that day as the most expensive and time consuming election either one of us ever participated in. It took Dad until about 1998 to be able to laugh about it. That’s fair, considering it probably took him that long to get his blood pressure down after our adventure.

This year, my own kid is voting. As of the time I write this, neither one of us has gotten a ticket.*

I am all UP in my mom feels.

*He was not driving when he called me.

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