David Mendez

Redondo Beach About Town

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The Ballad of Bummer

by David Mendez

Since Sept. 17, one man has consistently stood at the corner of Aviation Boulevard and Grant Avenue, with a sign hanging around his neck, bearing four letters:

VOTE.

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Bummer is his name — or at least, the nickname he’s gone by since long before he moved from Philadelphia to California. He’s 74 years old, a retired package delivery driver who was once known for selling ice cream out of a cart at Redondo Beach fairs.

Bummer has spent most of his days at the corner of the busy intersection near his home encouraging people to vote because of CAVE: Community Awareness, Voter Empathy.

“If you see this, you have a choice: You can either cast your ballot or not. You’re voting, whether you cast your ballot or not,” Bummer said. “In order to get everyone to realize they have a choice, you stand here and give them that choice.”

The reactions he’s gotten have varied. Some will roll down their windows and thank him. Others will be decidedly less polite, he said, sharing one particularly crude suggestion lobbed at him.

“You can’t print that,” Bummer said, laughing.

But he’s also gotten a lot of questions from those asking him how they should vote.

“According to the Jiminy Cricket Party — which were part of, you and me standing here — you let your conscience be your guide,” Bummer said. “I’m not telling them what to do, one way or the other.”

That’s not to say he lacks an opinion; Bummer has found that supporters of Donald Trump are more likely to be rude to him than others, and believes that unhappy citizens should send a message to the powers that be through the polls.

But the position from his corner is that whatever choice a person makes, they should do so consciously.

“And on the Jiminy Cricket Party, the platform that we stand on is a case of cold beer,” Bummer said.

One more thing: Two days before the election, Bummer reached out to me via email.

He reported that on Sunday, a woman drove by Bummer as he stood at his post and yelled to him from her car.

“She said that she will be voting for the first time and it was because of my sign, and loudly said THANK YOU,” Bummer wrote. “It would seem mission: acknowledged.”

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