I was blessed with a unique, one-of-a-kind, once in a lifetime experience – thanks to my wonderful job. Tuesday night, a man named Nick and I PAed (assisted) for the White House Press Staff when they arrived in their private USA 3000 charter. Testing my strength and getting dirty, I transported their luggage, equipment and two Army personnel from plane to hotel. It was so awesome to see all the CNN, CBS, FOX and NBC stickers on the numerous tripod and tape cases. I never touched a camera. I know better than that.
The following morning I dressed for Presidential-Success! Thankfully I only needed to transport 2 suitcases and one man, Luis. He is with the Army and has been working with the White House press for three years. I didn’t care to inquire about the differences between the administrations. Luis was my ticket into the event and I had my eye on the prize. (In case you aren’t aware, President Obama came to Dobson High School in Mesa to deliver a speech regarding the new Stimulus Act he just signed and foreclosure. Arizona, along with Nevada and Florida has the most foreclosures in the nation. Hmmm, I wonder why.) There were flocks of Secret Service, Sheriffs, White House staff and various other important people. They all dressed slick and wore pins on their lapels distinguishing their department. There was also plenty media, pro-testers and of course, supporters. I saw one young man wearing an Obama basketball jersey and selling pins of Obama’s face. This made me smile. The protesters unhappily carried their picket-signs. One man’s read: “I want a hand-out. I want a house, a 4×4 truck and a hot red head.” If you are trying to imagine what this man looks like, think no further, you’re probably spot-on. I’ll bet that he gets that house and truck long before he ever scores a hot any-colored head. Another woman’s read: “I want a hand–out. Give me a tummy tuck.” She, too, is exactly what you’re picturing. I was embarrassed for these people – somebody needed to be. And a midst all these regular Americans, I looked like a diamond in the rough. After all, I had somewhere fantastic to be. Luis flashed his pin to one woman, said we were with him and we were off. Piece a cake; piece a pie – if you’re in the Army that is.
Next, we met Kate, the press coordinator who had been giving us our duties, and the press bus drivers. Kate brought us over to a man named Clay and we proceeded to get our pictures taken in front of one of the Presidential limos. So rad! Apparently these limos are everything-proof. My friend googled one day and learned that the tires won’t blow out, even if they’ve been shot at. Obama is so much cooler than James Bond and I now have a photo with the toughest, sickest ride there is – google that! The very best was next! We passed the Presidential limo he rode in, it was under a tent and alongside a covered, protected hallway that led us into an athletic locker room. The place was crawling with Secret Service. They smiled ever so slightly at me – my nervous excitement was written all over my face! We entered another hallway just outside the gym. I heard the crowd roar, looked down to turn on my camera and then heard his voice. He was right there! Only 10 feet away from my black, conservative Mary Jane heels (Compliments of my mama. You know me; I’m a baby tee, jeans and flip-flops kind of gal.). I was stunned! All I could think was, “Is this really happening to me?!” He took several individual pictures – not sure how those lucky ducks finagled that sweet deal, and then took a few group photos as well.
My press volunteer/ bus driver group was up next! My plan was to shimmy my way next to the President since our group was so large, but I was nearly stampeded when our name was called. Imagine my disappointment. I feared I would be stuck on the outside of a bunch of men. Sad face. Just then, the President saw me over one of their shoulders and reached behind him to meet me. ME!! We shared a firm shake. I hate wimpy handshakes.
“Hello and what’s your name?” he asked with a smile that reached his eyes.
Although flabbergasted, I managed to respond, “Hi, my name is Jamie. It’s incredible to meet you.” (SMILING the WHOLE time!!)
With a humble chuckle he said, “Jamie, it’s nice to meet you too.”
Naturally, I began to loosen my grip. He, however, did not. He gripped me a tad bit tighter and pulled his elbow to his side, pulling me near him. Heart beat intensifying! He wrapped his left arm around me and said, “Let’s do this.” SO my style! But the bus drivers to our right asked for autographs. Tremendously tacky in my opinion. However, he graciously signed them. He is left-handed by the way. Time for the photo-op! We all scrunched together and smiled for numerous cameras. It all happened so incredibly quickly.
Before seeing these pictures I couldn’t have told you what color his tie or suit was or if he smelt good or how big his ears really are. All I knew was that his suit was unbelievably soft, his teeth were perfectly white and his eye contact was impeccable. I reason that he is one of those people you wouldn’t mind being stuck behind in a 3 hour-long line at Disneyland. In fact, you’d probably share a few friendly conversations. He used everyone’s name when greeting him or her and was oozing with charisma. Before I knew it, we were done. Surreal.
I looked up at him and said with a schoolgirl smile, “Thank you, this was unreal.”
He smiled and with a small laugh said, “Yes, it was nice to meet you Jamie.”
Just like that, I went to thinking, “Did this really just happen?!” I walked away, with a skip in my step, and smiled over my shoulder. I swear, sometimes my life is a movie. Cue the music and roll credits, please.