COLUMN: I really understand people’s struggles | Columnists


I was cutting down trees that were blown over by a windstorm, being careful not to get my chainsaw blade caught when the trees decided to fall in two parts.

After sawing it into firewood, I put the pieces in one of my ice fishing sleds and headed to my vehicle, an old Subaru.

A mouse or bug seemed to have eaten away at my truck’s ignition wires. Still, the show must go on.

There’s a certain guy who won’t be named, Wayne, who gave me the title “Forrest Hard-Way” years ago. I couldn’t really argue with him. I then used a scythe to mow the hay and haul it with oxen.

It’s not so extreme anymore. I can turn a key, and sometimes things work. If they don’t, I wait for everything to be fixed, and go back to the “hard way” in the meantime.

Well, while I was dragging my black plastic sled through the snow, I started thinking about the upcoming school elections. I am an electoral inspector. I started doing this because Mr. Zimmerman, who had been one for many years, called me several years ago.

People also read…

“You are the only Democrat I can convince. There aren’t many of us in Hadley. You must register.

So, I did. It was only for county elections, but somewhere along the line I also started with school.

Anyway, what I was thinking as I trudged through the snow was how my life looked like an Arts and Crafts movement postcard – a lot of hand-eye coordination was required.

This got me to start thinking about the kind of arts and crafts we did in elementary school. In kindergarten and first grade, we learned to color the lines. A good talent I guess, but it wasn’t my forte. I could, however, color all over my face, and on my desk, skills that were not appreciated at the time.

When it comes to elections, I’ve been telling voters since we got the new optical scanner voting machine, “It’s not just about voting. This builds on your arts and crafts skills. You must fill the bubble and stay inside the lines.

Some people just can’t. They have chills. They don’t really get the vote. Either way, they may not have completely filled the bubble and the machine expels their ballot.

Without being nosy, we all try to help as best we can.

I have days where my hands are shaking, depending on my blood sugar at the time. That’s when I’m transported back to first grade: “Uh, my pen just slipped on the paper.”

So I really understand people’s difficulties.

I also understand that they have the right to vote. So I try to help, just like the other people who facilitate the vote.

I just think it’s a little weird that hand-eye coordination has become a major part of voting. With lever machines, people had the option of making a mistake with a lever and fixing it before voting. And no one was to get involved.

Don’t even ask me to try to tear a check from the ream of paper it’s attached to.

I’m back as a freshman on that one too. “Damn, I tore up my check.”

Maybe we’re all going back to the “hard way”.

Forrest Hartley lives in Hadley, New York, where many fat kids also live. Leave a message at [email protected] I will try to find my password.


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