I was in a store the other day when one of my former students got my attention as I was walking down the candy aisle. “Hey, Mrs. G. you can’t be in this aisle!” I thanked him because I really shouldn’t be in that aisle, since I am trying to make a lifestyle change and also trying to get in shape.
We started to talk about how this young man’s life was going. He has a job, a fiancée, and wants to get in the military. He is the kind of young person I am proud to know. He asked me if I voted and who I voted for. I told him. He nodded and I asked him who he voted for. He told me he hadn’t. ” I should slap you on your head.” I told him. “How can you NOT vote? You’re a young person who is going to be affected by this election in so many ways, especially if you go into the military.” He told me he hadn’t voted because he had to work for 12 hours on election day. He didn’t know about early voting. As we finished the conversation, I made him promise me he would never miss another election. I told him to imagine my voice in his ear telling him to “Go vote!”
Another one of my former students is a very bright young woman who I was lucky to teach also. I’ll never forget how she defended me against a rude, overly zealous fire marshal who interrupted my class one day while doing inspections. The guy was having a fit because I had a paper sign on my door. He wanted it taken down. I told him I would do it as soon as I finished teaching. He screamed at me, ” You’ll do it now!” This wonderful young woman yelled at him, ” Hey dude, stop being such a douche!” I must admit, although the terminology was a bit crass, I could have given her a hug. ( And she was accurate because he was a douche) I will never forget that!
Anyway, on election day, she posted on Facebook about how she had voted, how she had done her research on the candidates and the issues and how nervous she was about voting for the first time. But, she persevered and voted and felt great for it! I don’t know how she voted or for whom she voted, but it made me feel good that she did so with such excitement and seriousness. I know she is not who she is because of me, but I felt so proud.
Two young people. Two potential votes. One didn’t vote this time but I think he will the next time. The other became a full participant in the freedom and responsibility of this country. I feel better for knowing and having taught both of them, and I am more optimistic about this generation because of them.