Everything is broken. Like this country. Yesterday I waited on hold for more than 25 minutes to make an appointment for an x-ray at a local hospital. It was the second time in two days that I had called and been put on hold; the first time was for 40 minutes until I got fed up and hung up the phone. I had dialed from my doctor’s office, where I sat in a crowded waiting room. All of the patients wore masks, half of them under their chins. All of the staff wore masks, half of them under their chins.
Despite the pandemic we the patients were marched up and down in the office for blood pressure readings and other medical minutiae before our actual appointments. The old shuffle-your patients-from-room-to-room-so-that-they-don’t-notice-how-poorly-the-practice-is-run trick was wearing on our nerves as we slumped in the (hopefully disinfected) seats.
When I got a same-day appointment for my x-ray early in the morning, on my second try yesterday, I shot my arms up in the air in a victory gesture. An hour later I got a call from the hospital that the x-ray machine was broken, and I was asked to reschedule for the same time the next day.
Forty minutes later, during the morning meditation that I do to calm my rattly nerves, I got yet another call from the hospital. “Miss McCarthy, the machine is broken and there is no supervisor to make things move any faster. The technician has to order parts, so do you want to call back and reschedule for another time?”
“My name is Mc-Court-tie.”
“–Whatever, I knew I would mess that up.”
“–and no, I don’t want to call back and be put on hold again. Let’s try for Thursday, same time.”
A scheduler who doesn’t care enough to pronounce her customer’s name, major pet peeve. Radiology machines that are in need of parts that have to be ordered from elsewhere while patients languish, major catastrophe. Is there only one x-ray machine for the entire hospital, part of a statewide chain that has swallowed up smaller hospitals? Everything is broken. Like this country.
I am worried about the election. Flouting my own rules about not trying to get important work done on a Monday, I wrote my local assemblyman to request a virtual town hall on the election. (The last time I voted it rained and the machines shut down when we the people tried to scan our wet ballots.) I also asked the politician to address the 45-DeJoy Postal Service debacle. (I had medical supplies–which ordinarily would have been sent by post–messengered to my elderly father last week to avoid the significant delays that are now our norm, part of an extensive campaign of voter disenfranchisement.)
I got back an email from my politician’s office asking for my snail mail address but not responding to my request. I hope that in the following days there will be a response to my actual request, but hope is not a plan. So I left a phone message reiterating why I had written in the first place.
Buoyed by seeing Stacey Abrams of Fair Fight–which combats voter suppression–on MSNBC last night, I went onto www.vote.org to first ensure that I am still on the voter rolls (I am) and then to try to request an absentee ballot (I couldn’t according to an error message). Everything is broken. Like this country.
In conversations that I’ve had with some of my American friends over the last few months they seem more interested in the best films and series to binge watch than what is going on in the country. The fantasy that we will be magically saved by law and order has long been stood on its head by 45. There is no understanding that the courts are now rigged by partisan judges, and that other basic systems and ways of doing business were damaged way before 45 was sicced on us. There is no understanding that there is no Superman to save us. We have to save ourselves.
I will figure it out. With or without my assemblyman, with or without online absentee ballot registration. Like Forever FLOTUS suggested at the DNC convention last night, maybe I will pack a day of meals, and don a mask and one of the fashionable Depends that sport floral designs (my idea). I will proudly line up with the hordes of humanity trying to exercise our ultimate American right.
With the hand that can no longer make a fist that I am desperately trying to get x-rayed on my $637.67 a month Republican-battered Obamacare, I will vote for the presidential ticket of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. Because my life depends on it. Because everything is broken in this country. And voting, even in this raggedy system, is the only option I’ve got.
* * *
NBC News has launched the Plan Your Vote website, which it touts as “Everything you need to know about mail-in and early in-person voting, including the first day you can cast your ballot in the 2020 election.” I like it because all the key deadlines for voter registration and absentee ballots per state are published in one place:
Got any resources to help simplify voting Affirming Community? Write to me.
Note: After I finished this essay I got the following response from my assemblyman’s office:
Dear Ms. McCourtie,
At the moment, Assemblyman Dinowitz is waiting for Cuomo to sign the legislation (which would protect peoples right to vote absentee) he proposed. Until this legislation becomes law, either through Governor Cuomo signing it or failing to veto it by 8/21, the process for applying for an absentee ballot is not finalized. Hopefully this legislation will become law as soon as possible so that our office, and the state of New York, can begin to ensure that all New Yorkers are equipped with the knowledge they need to vote safely. Thank you for your advocacy, and have a good day.
Sincerely, Sam Liedtka – Community Liaison Office of Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz (o) 718-796-5345 // [email protected]
Huh? Say what? Absentee ballots have not been finalized in NY? Who knew? And are we going to wait until 8/21 to start to set up a meeting about it? What about the attack on the P0stal Service?