Sunday, April 12, 2009

How I Met the President

It's taken me way too long to tell this story.  I took this picture back in mid September at a small town meeting with Obama in Dover NH, my current place of residence.  I took it with my iPhone and I think it came out pretty good for a cell phone pic.

I believe it was a Friday and on this particular day, the company I was with at the time decided to have a barbeque at a golf course in the next town.  It was some employee appreciation thing and everyone was going.  I listen to political talk radio most days at work and I had heard that Obama would be holding a town hall meeting in Dover that afternoon at around 1 or 2.  After hearing this, I immediately asked my boss if I could skip out on the BBQ to try and catch a glimpse of Obama.  He approved the request and I was outa there by like 11 so I could try and get in.

When I got to the gymnasium where he was scheduled to be, the place was already mobbed with people.  I overheard some people talking and they mentioned that it was a "ticket only" event in which you had to be invited to.  Apparently, the only people that got invited where local elderly citizens and independents who were still on the fence with who they were going to be voting for.  I thought this made sense.  When you're campaigning, you don't want to speak to your base.  You want to speak to the people who DON'T know who you are or may have some misconceptions about you.  This was crappy because I did not have an invitation, but I still wanted to get in and so did the hundreds of others outside.

About an hour later, a massive, tinted, black tour bus rolled up with another large bus filled entirely with photographers and news media.  Apparently, this media group had their own bus and basically toured with him across the country.  The bus pulled up so close to the gym, that I couldn't see him walk into the building.  At this time, they had the crowd standing across the street.  After he was inside, they let the crowd move in and I was pretty much swept up with everyone has they rushed the building.  Was pretty nuts.

I found myself standing next to a group of local reports towards the front of the line.  I was laughing to myself because I was saying how funny it would be if I pretended to be one of Obama's press and snuck in with them.  I was dressed in professional looking clothes since I was coming from work and I was wearing my work badge which, at first glance, looks like a press badge.  Then this woman came up to the group of local press from the other side of the rope and said "Alright...I can only take five you you."  And then she starting pointing to people, "I'll take you, you, you, you and you."  When we she said the last "you" she said it to me and grabbed my arm and pulled me in with the rest of the local press.  I was pretty much whisked away with them and before I knew it, I was leaving the crowd behind and entering the building.

At this point I started to get a little scared because I was thinking I could be in big trouble if they find out I'm not really a reporter.  I went through the press entrance and found myself backstage with a bunch of press people.  Some guy with a clip board was going around asking people for their press credentials.  When he got to me I just looked at him and said "Listen.  Don't get mad, but I'm not really a member of the press.  I was accidentally pulled in with a few other people.  I was just hoping to catch of glimpse of the man and nothing more."  The guy looked around and said rather nervously, "Well, you made it this far.  May as well keep going and see if you can find a seat inside."  He walked me over to the security check and after they patted me down, they sent me into the gymnasium.  I couldn't believe it.

There were a few empty chairs scattered about with a huge crew of news cameras and reports in the back.  There were only about a 2 to 3 hundred people there and seats were placed in a semicircle around a small podium.  I walked all the way around the full crowd to the farthest side and found and empty chair up against the side railing about 3 rows from the front.  I was pumped!  I knew at this point I had a great seat and would be able to see the entire speech without any trouble.  Then, to my amazement, Obama came through the side door right near my chair and made his way towards my line of seats.  He came down the line and I stuck my hand out and he shook it.  I just about pissed myself.  I slid back into my seat and watched the speech.  Was probably one of the coolest experiences of my life so far and I don't think I'll ever forget it.

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