one of everybody.

by Marie Sheppard Williams

I stood at a bus corner
one afternoon, waiting
for the #2. An old
guy stood waiting too.
I stared at him. He
caught my stare, grinned,
gap-toothed. Will you
sign my coat? he said.
Held out a pen. He wore
a dirty canvas coat that
had signatures all over
it, hundreds, maybe
I’m trying
to get everybody, he
I signed. On a
little space on a pocket.
Sometimes I remember:
I am one of everybody.

I sat in front of the television, carefully taping peppermints to each of my flyers. My dad suggested the slogan “Put Kari in charge of your mint!” and I have no idea whether middle school students in 1991 got the wordplay. I wrote my qualifications in my neatest handwriting: I am used to counting money and helping my dad write up deposits for the family business. It would be an honor to serve as your treasurer.

When I lost to a girl who was unquestionably more popular, a teacher shrugged at me, “What did you expect?” People thanked me for the peppermints but said, “We just like her better.”

I resented her for a long time. I thought it was just another sure thing that she could check off her list: pretty, popular, basketball star, student council treasurer. She was not a person to me, but a symbol of my failure. I saw my own hurt and rejection, not how excited she might have been or how she probably experienced the same insecurities about her chances. By focusing on myself, being defensive about my loss, I lost her humanity.

It is easy to lose sight of people in the middle of election season. Emotions run high as issues touch our deepest-held values. But today, election day, is the perfect time to remember the humanity of others. I am one of everybody – a small thread in the overall tapestry. I am one of everybody – today, my vote counts, too.

Please vote today if you haven’t already! Sadly, this year’s stickers are not as great as they were four years ago.

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