Wednesday, November 05, 2008

No Such Thing as a Free Lunch ... Or Is There? (Election Review)

My friend ELAINE, who has complained way too much that I never mention her here, sent out a broadcast e-mail Monday night, directing friends and family to drive directly from Starbucks (free coffee) and Krispy Kreme (free star-spangled donuts) stores to their nearest Chick-fil-A to claim their free chicken sandwich after exercising their right to vote Tuesday.

Imagine the cashiers' surprise at our local Chick-fil-A when throngs of socialists, cheap Republicans and charismatic Democrats made a mad rush through both entrances and around and around the drive-through to demand their free lunch.

"It's actually against the law to give away food just because you voted," the 15-year-old behind the counter told me. She kept both hands firmly on the counter, as if I were wielding a gun and robbing the place. "This has been a misunderstanding. Some markets are offering this promotion, but ours isn't one of them."

"Oh, so I don't get a free sandwich?"

"It's actually the Florida market that is giving away free sandwiches. We are not part of that promotion."

And before anyone could step behind her and wind the giant key lodged in her back, she said, "But because radio stations (AND YOUR FRIEND ELAINE) have been publicizing it, we will honor the promotion."

"So what you're saying is, No, you're not supposed to give out free sandwiches, but yes, you are giving out free sandwiches today because of the misunderstanding. Right?"

"Yes, ma'am."

Well for heaven's sake, why didn't you just say so in the first place instead of carrying on this nonsense about markets and promotions and rumors? If the result is the same, I'd rather not hear the circular reasoning about why you should or should not give away free food. Still, a very good PR move on Chick-fil-A's part. Same for Starbucks and all the other places that kept me on the road Tuesday. God bless America.

----------

My phone rang at 10:30 p. m. Election Eve. Few people on this earth are on my List of People I Will Talk To After the Late News ... Especially When It Requires Me to Get Out of the Bed and Talk Quietly From the Stairwell, but David is certainly at the top of that list.

"Amy, I'd like to talk to you about the election."

(Sigh.) "David, I'd like to talk to you about Jesus."

We effectively shut each other down. Yet we still managed to stay on the phone for an hour, sidestepping politics and religion. That's how we've stayed friends for more than 24 years. Tolerance.

----------

Everyone put your colored pencils down, and go to bed ... Back in the day, we didn't have real-time election results, hologram guests and computerized maps. We had paper ballots and telephones and morning newspapers. We would go to bed on election night and wake up to learn who would be the new leader of the Free World. We had anticipation, guesswork, the UNKNOWN.

But Tuesday night, my kids were watching concession and victory speeches before 10:30 p.m. Until then, they were keeping tabs on electoral votes, maintaining a close eye on ballot counts as they were made official. My GOSH, my den looked like a newsroom, with a couple of laptops, a TV, stacks of papers, bloodshot eyes, a fair amount of loud talking and occasional shouting. And, of all things, colored pencils and black outline maps on plain white paper -- the way it's supposed to be.