“So you gonna vote tomorrow?” Saroya asks me.
“Yes,” I reply, looking over my copy of the Times. I’m reading about the riots in France. Did they run out of cheese?
“Who you gonna vote for?” Saroya says.
“It’s a secret ballot dear.”
“C’mon,” Saroya says, “Tell me.”
“Actually I’m thinking of voting for myself,” I say.
“Why would you do that?” Saroya asks.
“Cause I’m not happy with any of the candidates,” I reply.
“Have you ever thought about running for office?”
“Maybe when I’m older,” I say, “Much older.”
“Would you run for President?” Saroya asks.
“I think there are some intermediate steps before that happens,” I say, “Like running for dog catcher first.”
Louis walks in on our conversation.
“Whatcha guys talking about?” he asks.
“I asked Waiter if he’s gonna run for President one day,” Saroya says.
Louis cracks up. “Oh my God. He’d make not tipping twenty percent a Federal crime.”
“Punishable by death,” I say.
“Wouldn’t be enough electric chairs,” Louis says.
“I was thinking more along the lines of the guillotine,” I say.
“The streets would run red with blood.” Louis cackles.
“It’d be a mess,” I agree.
“Air strikes on yuppies?” Louis asks.
“’Vote Waiter. Nuke Greenwich’ would be my bumper sticker,” I say.
“You’ll never be President,” Saroya laughs.
Hey, a failed haberdasher made it to the highest office in the land. Why can’t I? Hmmm. I am over thirty five. Though something tells me I just lost the Greenwich vote.
“Never say never dear,” I reply.
“So you gonna vote tomorrow?” Louis asks.
“Yes,” I say irritably. I’m still trying to read why the French are burning their cars. Probably because they’re French cars.
“Who are you…..?”
“I’m writing in a candidate,” I interrupt.
“Yourself?” Louis asks.
“No,” I say, “I’m writing in the person I think should get the job. Only problem is they’re not running.”
“Isn’t that throwing away your vote?” Louis asks.
“I’m not picking between mediocrities,” I reply.
“You’re throwing away your vote,” Louis says.
At the end of the night I’m walking to my car. Claude, our local homeless guy, asks me for a dollar. I give him one.
“So you gonna vote tomorrow?” he mumbles.
What the fuck? Is there something in the water?
“Yes Claude,” I reply.
A wild look appears in Claude’s eyes. Instead of asking me who I’m voting for he starts gesticulating wildly.
“Politicians! They’re all crooks! They stole my house! They sent me to Vietnam!” he shouts.
Claude is crazy. I don’t know if what he’s saying is true. But he has a point. The consequences of politics can be devastating.
“I’m gonna vote for the best person I can Claude,” I say.
But Claude is lost in the madness that swirls within and without. He pulls up the collar of his field jacket and walks away.
I drive home rethinking how I’m going to vote.