Veterans’ Day

Or something close to it

Terry Barr


Photo by amirali mirhashemian on Unsplash

It only counts if you say it:

“Please tell me again what you ordered. I want to get this right.”

It’s a cafe in Clinton, South Carolina, the day after election day 2022. America might still be the same country it was when I went to bed the previous night after a long day of working the polls.

It is at least the same country it was on election day when a couple, who told me they came from Vietnam, tried to vote. He was successful, but his wife had issues. When she raised her hand and I walked over to help. I saw that the machine had rejected her. Her “crime?”

She had tried to vote the straight Republican ticket. She actually did so, but then she kept undoing votes, believing that she still had to vote for every candidate individually.

“No,” I said, “You are undoing your vote. You aren’t voting for anybody.”

Her husband walked back over and yelled at her in Vietnamese.

“Sir,” another worker said to him, “You can’t advise her. Husbands cannot tell their wives how to vote.”

Or, at least not in the polling area.

“Oh, oh,” he said as he fled the scene.

They were both wearing Polo attire, complete with down vests and South Carolina Palmetto-emblazoned hats.

So, turning back to her votes, the woman kept smiling, kept undoing choices, and three more workers came up to try to help. I saw her smiling till the end, and someone told me that in that end, she hadn’t voted for anyone.

Now I wonder if she actually knew what she was doing all along.

I wonder that a lot. Do we know what we’re doing?

While I’ve monitored the nationwide races, I have yet to look closely at South Carolina’s results. I know what they are in general. The super-religious have won — the “Bob Jonesers” as we call them — and who knows if the school board will be standing come next year, or what all our kids won’t be able to read.

I’ll be retired by then, and so I have to teach my students Gendered Queer before I go. And certainly The Testaments, the ones by Margaret Atwood.



Terry Barr

I write about music, culture, equality, and my Alabama past in The Riff, The Memoirist, Prism and Pen, Counter Arts, and am an editor for Plethora of Pop.