During the training I inadvertently volunteered to do some additional work as an office greeter and data entry a few days a week. This opportunity was something I never thought I’d enjoy, I was wrong. As a greeter, I welcomed all the workers to the campaign office in Portland, as well as answering calls, taking donations, selling merchandise, scheduling shifts, and processing data. Apparently I was a natural. Who knew that19 years as a teacher was perfect experience.
I was already awake making coffee when my phone rang at 3:30am with a wake-up call. A familiar voice greeted me with an enthusiastic; good morning Gia, it’s Election Day! The dark morning was an ice scrapping 20 degrees. I made it to the office by 4:30 and we started prepping for the day’s events. Volunteers arrived and training commenced for today’s last efforts. At the last minute our team was called to help out another, much larger neighborhood in the West End. It looked like I would be canvassing too, just a well. There was no tomorrow. For the first time I was knocking on doors with the message to go vote! At 8am there weren’t many who answered my polite knock. I did manage to engage a few voters, which was satisfying. I survived canvassing and after a few hours our team was asked to return to our office for the remainder of Election Day to work in our neighborhood.
I was nervous and excited as I walked into my polling location. I informed the election volunteer who was serving last names A-E of my new identity. With her thin finger she carefully looked down the long list of names on her page, and there I was, Gia Drew, imagine that. She politely handed me my ballots and gestured towards the awaiting cubicles. Armed with a black marker, I tried to fill in the circles as slowly and carefully as possible, but it didn’t take more than a minute. After voting for 27 years, this moment was very special. I fed my completed ballots into the automated reader and proudly stuck the I Voted sticker on my felt coat.
As usual, we exited through the firehouse garage. There is always community tables set up as you leave the polling location. This year there was even a table with doughnuts. The woman standing behind the tempting pastries was raising awareness for the local animal shelter and their programs. I asked if I could have one. With a warm smile, she replied, “help yourself dear.” I thanked her, took a brochure with an old fashion. I was blinded by the brilliant sunlight and cold air as I emerged from the station. As I walked back to my car shivering, I wrested with my scarf and took bite of the delicious doughnut. I had just voted as transgender woman in a small conservative New England town to reelect a black President and for same sex marriage. It felt like I was in the most wonderful dream and I didn’t want it to end.
To be continued.