At 5'3", 130-ish pounds, I am nothing if not a young, white, relatively affluent by many standards, suburban-raised, threatening-by-all-accounts woman menace.
So call the cops on me.
Oh good. You already did.
Election day is in less than a week, and, between the "Georgia 5" and the dead heats that have us potentially poised to go purple, it's been a pretty exciting midterm election.
As a journalist (and a voter), this interests me.
So I decided to get some opinions.
Namely the opinions of early voters in Sandy Springs.
"Armed" with a Bloggie, press credentials and a smile, I headed to the polls to ask voters one question - "Why do you feel it's important to vote?"
I figured answers would fall into one of only a few choice responses, all of which are positive and non-partisan.
I expected some reticence. Folks shy away from spotlights they fear might make them look foolish, and trust in "the media" might not be at its height in our modern "everyone's got an iPhone camera and an agenda" age.
To remedy this, I openly displayed my credentials. I greeted everyone with a smile. I gave them my card. I told them, point blank, what one question I was going to ask.
I may as well have tattooed "EBOLA" on my forehead.
Talking to a stranger is uncomfortable. And that's true whether you're the stranger in front of the camera or the stranger behind it. I get that. And I don't even hold it against the folks who refuse to speak with me or who granted me such a wide berth in the parking lot as to render an afternoon workout no longer necessary.
But to the lady in the car who refused to exit her vehicle: (I was nowhere near her. I just saw her cowering in the white sedan at a distance of about 40 paces.) Did you really feel you had to call the cops?
Like, that was your first move?
No one wants to be uncomfortable at the polls. No one wants to feel influenced or threatened or somehow coerced. All of this is true, fine, acceptable.
But you called the cops on a journalist standing at the appropriate distance from a polling place, press credentials clearly on display, who had shown no signs whatsoever of being up to no good?
So the cop comes.
Friendly-enough fellow. Looks young.
Drives ever-so-slowly through the parking lot, eyes peeled for the nefarious poll-persuader.
He sees me.
I wave and smile.
I'm so fucking uncomfortable, but I'll be damned if I'm going to show it.
Sure, I'll turn tail and run in the next 5 minutes, but for this minute, I'm going to stand my ground in the knowledge that 1. I'm right, and 2. as a journalist protected by the Bill of Rights, I am within my right to speak with those persons willing to speak with me about this, our political process.
As it turns out, the police man knows this too.
He doesn't stop me.
He doesn't try.
He just watches as I stand my ground.
For the next few minutes.
That feel like hours...
With the policeman onsite, white sedan now feels it is safe for her to exit her vehicle. Heart in my throat, I tell myself it's alright in the eyes of my inner Persecuter of Cowardice for me to move along. I've proven my point. I've made my stand. Now Jesus can I please just hole up back in my office?
I pack the Bloggie and attempt to walk to The Tracker at an even pace, head held high - because to do anything else - to give in to the "tuck tail and run" feeling in my guts - repulses me.
I have many faults I can live with, but cowardice is not one.
The officer follows me as I leave.