“Uh, excuse me. Sir?”
I sprayed the garden hose at the car, and soapy water sluiced onto the concrete.
I’m wary of anyone walking up my driveway on a Saturday afternoon, calling me “Sir.”
A laminated ID the size of a playing card was clipped to his shirt pocket. “I’m working for the campaign to elect …” and he named a political candidate who was becoming well known. “Could I have a few minutes of your time?”
It was a searingly hot day, even in shorts and a T-shirt and standing in a puddle of carwash water.
He tugged at the front of his shirt, which had gotten plastered to his chest.
“Tell you what,” I said, gesturing at two lawn chairs sitting in the shade of a maple tree. “I was just going to take a break. Would you like a Coke?”
“Man, that would be great,” he said, wiping his forehead with the back of a hand that held a stack of political flyers.
“One rule,” I said. “I don’t want to talk about politics.”
He quickly weighed his options … 10 minutes in the shade with a cold drink, or 10 more minutes of door-knocking.
“Deal!” he said.
He took the shadier of the two chairs and I brought him an icy can of Coke from the kitchen. He rolled it across his forehead before popping the top.
For 10 minutes we talked about the weather, the Twins and Led Zeppelin. But not politics.
“Where are you from?” I asked.
“Minneapolis,” he said. “I’m majoring in poli-sci at the ‘U’.”
“Why the interest in politics?” I asked, hoping the question didn’t violate my own rule.
He lifted his can and took a long drink while I listened to the electric buzz of the cicadas.
“It’s a chance to make a difference,” he finally said with a satisfied sigh. “Do you follow politics?”
“More than I’d like to sometimes,” I said.
He held up a flyer with a photo of his candidate. “Can we count on your vote?”
“I haven’t made up my mind yet.”
His smile said he’d heard it before. He stood and straightened his tie; the crease was a lost cause.
“Thanks for the Coke,” he said. “I needed the break.”
“Me, too,” I said, hooking a thumb at the car. “Good luck in November.”
He disappeared down the sidewalk, and from the neighbor’s house I heard him say “Uh, excuse me. Ma’am?”
His guy lost in November. Badly.
But one of his votes was mine.
Dan Conradt, a lifelong Mower County resident, lives in Austin with his wife, Carla Johnson.