“You ready?” Blanche called back to Dennis. “C’mon, I want to get to Walmart. Bring your homework, you can do it there.”
Dennis came out in his sweatshirt and ball cap. He grabbed his school backpack as he passed the kitchen table.
On the way into town Blanche asked him, “You know what you’re supposed to do?”
“Yeah, remember, I told you last night. You even had me practice on you.”
“I didn’t know nothing, did I?” Blanche and Dennis laughed.
“No, you didn’t. But at least you didn’t yell at me.”
“So that’s what’s got you worried. Now if you are polite and talk to people straight, not mumble people will be polite to you. Oh, and always remember to smile.”
Dennis still seemed worried. Blanche thought it was a pretty odd homework assignment. She asked, “You know all the answers to them questions?”
He nodded. “I got an “A” on the test.”
Blanche whistled. “Ain’t you something.”
They parked in the Walmart parking lot and the early Saturday shoppers were in full force. “You know,” Blanche offered, “You could offer to help them out with their groceries and ask them the questions then.”
Dennis nodded. Blanche clapped him on his shoulder. “Well, you get at it. I’ll go shopping.”
Blanche went in the doors and Dennis got out his clipboard.
“Excuse me sir, can I ask you some questions? I have a homework assignment.”
The grey-haired man grinned as he slowly pushed his cart into the lot.
“I won’t be getting you in trouble if I help you with your homework, will I?”
“No sir, you see, that’s the assignment, to ask you some questions. It’s for my social studies class.”
“Well you go right ahead.”
Dennis started reading from his clip board, pencil in hand. “Do you live in Latah County?”
“Yup” Dennis checked a box.
“Do you vote?”
“Always” Dennis checked another box.
“Do you know who represents you in the Idaho legislature?”
“That’s a tough one. I think it’s that Risch guy and maybe there’s a new guy, I think it’s Fullmer.”
Dennis frowned and studied his sheet.
“How about who the Governor of Idaho is.”
“Oh, that’s easy, Butch.”
Dennis frowned again, not sure what to write. “Is that his last name?”
“No sonny, it’s Otter, Butch Otter.” The old man grinned. “He’s been for a long time, you know that.”
“OK, thanks. Can I help you with those bags?”
Dennis had a sheet of paper for each interview, so he slid out a new one as he approached the mom with three small kids. She was frowning so he smiled, then she did too. “Can I ask you some questions for my homework?”
“What kind of questions?”
“It’s for social studies.”
“Well, you go ahead.”
She said she didn’t vote but it turned out she knew two out of the three state legislators and three of the four Idaho congressmen. “Hope you get a good grade,” she called to him as she belted in a toddler. “You sure are brave to be out here asking questions.”
“Yes ma’am. Thank you.”
He ran into some folks from Washington so he had to excuse himself. Then he asked the older woman with a near empty cart. He offered to help her and she agreed to answer his questions.
“Oh yes, I vote, always vote straight Democrat.” She smiled absently. She couldn’t name a single representative at the state level or in Congress, but it didn’t bother her a bit. “I don’t read the paper anymore, I just watch the TV. Can you believe that Trump character?” Dennis helped her put the bags in the trunk.
Blanche asked him on the way home, “What did you learn?”
Dennis frowned. He wasn’t sure how he was going to write his report.
“It seems to me some of the folks who vote shouldn’t, and some of the folks who don’t ought to.”