|President Barack Obama delivers pizzas to my son (on the phone) |
and other hardworking field organizers
Whether you are a Democrat or a Republican, getting a chance to meet the President of the United States is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
Yesterday my son and I were part of an amazing event and it still feels surreal.
We were in Gloucester, VA going door-to-door to get out the vote for the Obama campaign when my son, who is a field organizer, received a call to quickly come to Williamsburg. We knew President Obama was in Williamsburg preparing for Tuesday's debate with Republican nominee Mitt Romney so we figured that there was a very good possibility that President Obama had decided to stop by the Williamsburg office and do a meet-and greet with campaign staff.
We arrived in Williamsburg ahead of the President's motocade but Secret Service and the advance team were already on the scene. It's was just as you would image: Black Escalades, sunglasses, earpieces, walkie talkies and security wands. There were about 50 people standing outside, a mixture of Obama volunteers and supporters and the advance team waived my son into the building as I was told to wait outside. One lady I talked to was there because she just stopped by to pick up an Obama sign for her yard. Talk about perfect timing!
For security purposes, the rest of us were told we couldn't be in front of the building when the President arrived so we had to wait behind the building. The Secret Service then told us when President Obama was in the building that we could come back to the entrance and form a line so that we could shake hands with the President before he departed. While we waited, the Secret Service made sure everyone understood the ground rules: don't put anything in the President's face, keep your hands out of your pockets, and don't ask the President to sign anything.
There was a definite buzz of excitement and anticipation in the air and we all kept rearranging our hair and our clothes when suddenly that very familiar voice shouted, "Hello everybody!" and there he was, the President of the United States up close and personal. Everbody started clapping and whooping and taking pictures. My first impression was that he is taller and thinner than you would think.
Obama was relaxed in talking to each person, asking them their names, where they were from and took particular interest in the few children that were in line. I just couldn't believe I was going to meet Barack Obama in a few minutes. It was truly surreal. I wanted time to slow down because he was getting ready to talk to me and I didn't know what to say. Talk about the debate? No. Say something about the election? No. Tell him he should gain a little weight and have a few more greasy burgers from Ray's Hell Burger, one of his favorites? Definitely No.
"What's your name?" the President asked me with a big smile.
I smiled back, told him my name and somehow managed to say, "Mr. President it is truly an honor to meet you and thank you for all of your hard work." I put my hand out because I thought he would shake it, but then he put his arms out and hugged me! OMG!! And then he was on to the next person. It was over so fast!
The woman next to me was a riot because she didn't even wait for the President to talk to her. She put her arms out and hugged him immediately and giggled as she said, "I love you!" Obama laughed too and then he said, "I love you back!"
We weren't allowed to move until the President was back in his car so I watched as he continued to make his way down the line and talk to each person. You would have no idea that this was a person under a tremendous amount of pressure. On the surface, it could have been a regular Sunday afternoon social event, just hanging out and chatting about life.
But we all knew it was more than that.