TRUSSVILLE — If I had been any closer to Pinchgut Creek, the water that runs alongside the railroad tracks at the intersection of Railroad Avenue and South Chalkville Road in Trussville, my feet would have been wet.
At 10:50 a.m. Tuesday, my wife and I were the last people in that line to vote in the 2020 general election at Trussville City Hall, which sat almost half a mile away. The line stretched that far out City Hall, behind Bryant Bank and down the length of Railroad Avenue. It then crossed the railroad tracks.
“We’re going to be in Leeds before long,” said one woman behind me.
I was dumbfounded at the long line. Maybe Trussville, a city of more than 23,000 now, needs more than three polling places. If someone knows how that works, please look into it. I was not prepared for a wait this long. I wore pants and a hoodie because it was cold when we arrived. It got hot fast. My neck and forehead ended up sunburnt after waiting from 10:50 a.m. until 2:35 p.m. In between those nearly four hours, I saw a lot.
A man was stung on his hand by a yellow jacket. A prepared woman who came with sunscreen also brought some sort of cream that helped stop the swelling. Dozens of people brought lawn chairs. One woman carried a blue Lowe’s bucket to sit on.
Others were as shocked as me. The woman directly behind me had come at 8 a.m. and saw the long line and decided to return at lunch time, when she assumed the line would be shorter. Wrong.
“I was hoping the line wouldn’t be as bad in the middle of the day, but I guess not,” one man said.
A policeman checked his watch shortly after 11 a.m. and called out, “Eight more hours!” A man who had voted drove by us at 11:44 a.m., his car adorned with Alabama Crimson Tide and U.S. flags and hollered out “Roll Tide!” and “Go America!”
Kemp’s Kitchen employees handed out coupons for chicken biscuits and free bottles of water. Jason’s Deli brought sandwiches. CrossFit Trussville hosted a food truck and allowed voters to use its restrooms.
CrossFit blared music by Toby Keith, Alabama, Kenny Loggins and more. I never thought I’d be tapping my feet on the Railroad Avenue pavement, but you can’t listen to “Dixieland Delight” or “Song of the South” and stand still. It is impossible.
As we moved closer to City Hall, I saw a woman reading a newspaper. Like, an actual newspaper. No Candy Crush on the iPhone, no refreshing of Twitter and no selfies for Instagram. An actual, real-life newspaper. And she was so consumed with it that I bet her fingertips were stained black. It was beautiful.
I saw another woman standing close to the Trussville Police Department building reading a paperback book. I bet she finished that book today in that line.
Best of all, I saw older folks tolerating the people who insisted on loudly talking on their iPhones about real estate law. I saw young people, no doubt voting for the first time, smile for nearly four hours. Because of the strain of COVID-19, I got to be around and speak with strangers again for the first time in a while.
We finally got inside at 2:32 p.m. and were done voting and headed out by 2:35 p.m. As we drove toward home, the line had persisted. People stood where I had four hours earlier, just above the slow flow of Pinchgut Creek. There is no doubt that I saw a couple thousand people today, all in one place to do the same thing. We haven’t seen that in a while, especially due to COVID-19, and it was actually nice to stand outside with strangers for nearly four hours.
Yes, it was a fine line.