Tuesday, January 19, 2010

What Happened After I Cast My Vote ....

It’s not every day that I get threatened in Wellfleet. Actually, I’ve lived here a dozen years and no one has ever even raised his or her voice at me. Sven and I try to live in harmony with our neighbors, gently encouraging others to be respectful of the environment ...

The Wellfleetians above are doing exercises at the Council on Aging, led by Melissa Shantz. I peeked in after casting my vote in the special election for the Senate, which has received national attention. Here someone else's vote is cast. For which candidate? No one knows. I like the old voting box, don't you? After voting Democratic, I walked down the COA driveway to photograph the future community garden there and paused to say hello to the sole person standing at the intersection with a Martha Coakley sign. She was waving at everyone who passed. There was also a man in an idling car, sporting a bumper sticker that made it clear he profoundly dislikes President Obama. A Brown campaign sign was stuck to the window. I made the mistake of photographing the back of his car, which was spewing exhaust fumes, then walked up to the window and suggested that he turn off the engine as such fumes are bad for the environment, especially when a driver intends keep a car running all day.

The man snarled something to this effect: “Lady, get away from my car.”

His tone was so shocking that I must have taken a step back. I don't think anyone has spoken to me in such an aggressive voice since I moved here. Anyway, he challenged why I was taking a photo of his license plate. I explained I had photographed the car because of the exhaust and suggested the fumes were bad for the environment, which he found funny, that I was not interested in his license plate, that I write a blog about living green in Wellfleet.

So, then the man said that if I published the photo he would sue me. I returned to our old Volvo for paper to take a few notes and parked not far away. I chatted some more with the Coakley volunteer. The angry man got out of his car, which was still running, of course, and took a photo of my license plate, growling, "I fucking warned you."

What I retained from this encounter was not his support of the Republican candidate, but rather his belligerence, confrontational attitude, and easy use of threat with lawsuit. This is Wellfleet, too.

I emailed a friend at the Provincetown Banner and asked how she would have reacted in such a situation. She suggested writing about it for my blog.

What would you have done if you had been in my shoes?