My voting place was the Shiloh Baptist Church on 9th Avenue, a big old church that has been there ever since I can remember. A staple of the Oak Park Community, I used to ride my bike through their parking lot as a shortcut to McClatchy Park when I was younger.

But now it was time to go there and vote, and there were different signs in the lawn that said “voting” with an arrow pointing towards the entrance with an American flag under it. I followed the signs until I was at the door. I stopped at the door and looked straight down the long hallway, it had poor lighting and the wood they used to decorate a long time ago was old and had missing pieces. I walked down the hallway and passed various doors, for a moment I felt like I was in the wrong place. Two guys in suits walked by and looked at me, it seemed like they were wondering what I was doing there. I felt uncomfortable and not welcome but I kept walking until I reached this big opening.

The place smelled abandoned like a building that had been closed up for a long time and like old cologne, I walked up to a table where three elderly ladies greeted me. Their smiles seemed faked and forced like they had done it too many times that day and just wanted to go home. They asked me my last name and found me on a list they asked me to sign a paper, they saw my signature and asked “Are you a doctor or something?” I thought for a moment, I didn’t know if it was a trick question or some sort of joke to make their day go by easier. I told them, “No, I’m not. Why?” One of the ladies said “Well I’ve seen so many different signatures today but yours looks like something a doctor would sign.” I just smiled, she caught me off guard and I didn’t have a response so I just said “Well I’m different.”

She gave me the instructions on what to do after I voted and what piece of the paper to keep as my receipt. I sat down at a big long white plastic table and started voting. It was kind of hard to concentrate on my votes because the ladies were talking about what they wanted to eat once they were done with their day. After I was done voting, a middle aged man in a suit helped me turn in the ballot and told me to get a sticker that said I voted. I turned in my pen and walked out. I told the ladies to have a nice rest of their day and they just smiled and waved. I walked back down the same long hallway thinking this is going to be the first of many.