Yesterday, I voted for someone I believed in because that’s what you do when you live in a democracy. Then, I went way the hell out of my way to get a bunch of free shit to congratulate myself for that, because that’s what you do when you’re an American.
While our corporate overlords are omnipotent and cruel, some at least wanted to project an image of political engagement, and they did it in the most American way possible: giving us free shit. Here’s a brief recap of my journey in what I didn’t realize was one of the last days most of the country would feel safe and confident. It was a fun and optimistic day in Los Angeles, and I’m glad it happened.
First, I returned to my homeland. Chuck E. motherfuckin’ Cheese’s.
I am no stranger to going to Chuck E. Cheese’s in the middle of the day, but this time, it was different. I was mobbed with children of voters, specifically Latino voters. The second-most popular commercial mouse in the game was dishing out free individual pepperoni pizzas. And yes, I brought tokens. And yes, the parents were uncomfortable. View the protagonist thrilled she just voted for a female president.
Then, on to refreshment. California-based company Lemonade gave away a free glass of their signature drink to those who flashed their “I Voted” sticker at their downtown location (meaning none for kids!).
Then it was off to mid-city for a line as long as a polling place for a free and fresh chocolate chip cookie at locally owned and operated Milk Jar.
Perhaps the most bizarre offering from a corporation were the admittedly dope pin designed by the company Pintrill and given away by Foot Locker. No purchase of sneakers required, and it looks amazing next to your sticker — which you’ve got to keep intact for the free booze I didn’t know I’d be needing later in the night.
Before being engulfed in a drunken haze like everyone else on the west coast, I stopped by 7-11 to take part in their weirdly charming convenience store offering: a massive cup of subpar hot coffee. They had cups available for Democrats and Republicans, because if there’s one issue we can all agree on, it’s that gross coffee is acceptable if it is free.
And then, of course, the night. I was still feeling good, ready to celebrate, and swung by the Harlowe bar in West Hollywood for a free red or blue shot of my choice. It went down easy. Later on in the night, they’d become the only thing tethering my sanity.
By the end of the night, my arms were filled with free swag, while my head and heart were hollow. I had spent my whole day collecting free stuff, and all night feeling bad about it. At least there was pizza.