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Al Batt: A neighbor votes for whoever he dislikes the least in elections

Tales from Exit 22 by Al Batt


Sanctimonious senators! It’s that time again.

I’m taking a break from a life of unbridled ecstasy to make this important announcement.

If you’re the kind who notices things, and I’ll bet you are, you know an election is coming. I lost my mood ring, so I don’t know how I feel about that. Everyone already at the top wants to go even higher. The election started about four years ago. The end is always too far from the beginning. Politics is a huge industry. Someone’s mother must have advised, “If you don’t have anything nice to say about a candidate, post it on social media.”

I don’t maintain unrealistic expectations. I learned quickly that anyone who says he has all the answers doesn’t. Politicians promise lower taxes, but if one tax goes down, another goes up. We have to pay our dues.

Losing candidates find it difficult to eat humble pie. They wash down defeat with their own tears. Lachryphagy is the term describing the behavior of drinking tears. I think any lottery winner who wins $500 million or more should become president if he or she gives the winnings to the government to spend on infrastructure in Minnesota. That would save us from all that losing and campaigning.

My phone rang and I answered it. It’s my job. The caller asked if I was Al Bait. My last name is nearly as easy to pronounce as my first name. It’s “bat” like the flying mammal or the club used in baseball. A rare person will call me “All,” but that one always gets my last name right.

The caller from Alabama asked, “How goes the battle?” and said because I was a storyteller, he had a story to tell. His youngest daughter had Tweeted, Facebooked, Instagrammed, Snapchatted and YouTubed it, but his oldest daughter said he should share it with me. I was happy to hear it. He was about to turn 87 and his doctor had told him he needed to start taking better care of himself, so he had his gallbladder removed. He’d lived a long life and I’m guessing he’d talked most of it. It was a lengthy, meandering story about his surgery given in intimate detail. I listened and enjoyed the end of his story where he appreciated the surgeon because he’d listened. He wished everyone would listen to others like that doctor. He signed off by telling me not to back into any pitchforks.

Later that day, I received a call from a man asking to speak to Allen Bates. Or it could have been Alan Bates. He sounded less than sunny. That was probably because he had a lousy job. He asked if I’d mind answering a few questions. I considered a hard-hearted hang up, but I didn’t want to appear standoffish and I’d just talked to someone from Alabama about the importance of listening. It didn’t take a Norman Einstein, let alone an Albert, to know it was a push poll, a form of negative campaigning disguised as a political poll. It’s telemarketing disguised as research and aimed to persuade voters and affect elections, rather than measure opinions. I asked him who he represented, but he wasn’t listening. In a righteous world, push-poll manipulators would be guilty of felonies. Why can’t I ever get in on something authentic like the Pew Research Center survey that found 91% of respondents had a favorable view of the U.S. Postal Service, higher than any other federal agency. Listening to his questions was like eating a sofa cushion without salad dressing. One question was, “If you were required to wear a safety helmet while shopping, would you?” He was trying to find my hot button. I didn’t respond, so he asked if wearing a mask while shopping encroached on my civil liberties. I’m not sure what wearing a mask, a reasonable precaution, has to do with an election, but I had an answer, thanks to the Alabama caller. I replied, “If a mask-wearing surgeon can remove a gallbladder, I can shop while wearing a mask.” The guy hung up on me without a parting word.

Charles Kuralt said, “It does no harm just once in a while to acknowledge that the whole country isn’t in flames, that there are people in the country besides politicians, entertainers, and criminals.”

I’ve never missed an opportunity to vote. I’m a proud voter. The first time I voted, I felt as if I’d found hidden wings. Vote whether you’re a Depublican, Remocrat, Shark or Jet.

Haters hate; voters vote.


Al Batt’s columns appear every Wednesday.