Oleander on Voting I.D.

Jun 1, 2019

Oleander asks why he has to be identified to people who already know who he is.
Credit Wikimedia Commons

Folks, how many of you plan to vote in November?  How about having to show that ID?

Claude Anderson is trying to get me ready.  He reminded me of the time, last year, when I woke up, threw on a pair of overalls, and spent the entire morning padding around the house and puttering in the garden.  Iola Humboldt fixed tomato soup for lunch, and I spent the afternoon reading on the porch, talking to my grandson on the telephone, visiting with neighbors as they walked by.

That evening, Iola sent me down to the Co‑op for a quart of milk.  When I reached for my billfold to pay, and couldn’t find it, I realized I'd spent the whole day without that big wad of wallet in my pocket.  Of course, Claude Anderson trusted me for the milk, but not before he lectured me, and the two other geezers who wandered in, about what we’d need to take when we go to the polls. 

“I’m taking my Social Security card,” he said.  “And a pay stub from my first job.  And my birth certificate, a bank statement, my high-school diploma, my college photo ID with a transcript, and a property tax statement.  Don’t want to be caught empty handed, like you are tonight.”

After hearing that, I walked home feeling almost weightless, like I did as a boy—just overalls and milk and everybody knowing who I was and trusting me.

Folks, when was the last time you spent a day without your wallet or your purse?  A day with no driving, shopping, or air travel.  Nobody asking who you are, even though they know who you are.  Why, over at the There County Bank, they've taken to asking me for my driver's license, the same young woman studying me as though I might have changed into somebody else overnight.  Same with the clerk at the Near Here grocery store.  "Do you have some form of identification?" Maude Perkins asks me every two weeks.  "I need it to process your check."

I pull out my billfold, and say, "I'm Bill Oleander.  I once had a date with your Grandma Mathilda."  She writes down my driver's license number anyway, citing, "Company policy."

Folks, I like just being myself, no ID required.  If someone sighted me, they'd have to

already know who I was, like a bird watcher does the birds.  "I spotted a shuffling, red‑faced Oleander," someone might say, watching me shamble to the Co‑op.  "Endangered species, you know.  Habitat shrinking every day."

Folks, I wonder what ID I'll need to take with me when I die.  I hope none.  For me,

heaven is the place where, instead of saying, "Excuse me while I process your check," they'll say, "Excuse me while I check your process."  And I'll be light as a feather.  I'll be the child, entering the kingdom.  They will have been expecting me.  They'll all know my name.  They'll be calling it out to me.