Although my life is never dull, there are times when nothing of particular interest happens during the week. By Wednesday midday, this week, I was wondering what would happen that maybe noteworthy. However, on Wednesday afternoon, we received a call from a lady who works at one of the companies where we regularly deliver papers. She informed us of road closures the following day, around her office. Apparently, the President was coming to town.
I had no reason to think I would see the man who currently resides in the White House, or at the very least, the motorcade, but political views aside, I am always one to enjoy tradition, and to actually catch a glimpse of the President of the United States of America, or even the procession that comes with him, would be one for my 'wow' factor list.
We found out, around mid morning, that following a couple of stops just outside of the City, the President was going to give a speech at a hotel which is just a few blocks from our office. As our mailman had informed us that he may not be able to crash the road blocks, to deliver our post before we left for the afternoon, I decided to take a walk to my friends down on Congress Avenue. Samantha had gone out to lunch with her friend, and had offered to do the court house run as the traffic was threatening to be heavy due to the constrictions. I made it half way to the post office, and saw a crowd forming around the Omni Hotel. Dana had suggested that I go and achieve my goal, and would call me should things get too overwhelming at the office. Before long, we were told to leave the area, and go down to 6th Street or Congress Avenue. Being a law abiding person, I followed instructions and headed towards the post office. However, being curious, I decided to walk around the block and see if I could somehow get nearer to the hotel.
The Driskill Hotel's main entrance has a very nice view of the Omni Hotel, which stands at the top of the road on the opposite corner. I walked up Brazos Street, and stood by a pillar, trying to be inconspicuous. Dressed in a straight classic navy dress, with shoes to match, I took out my camera and tried to blend in with the surroundings. Several people walked into the Hotel, and were being guided to the second floor balcony, but I did not feel confident enough to ask to follow them. A middle aged man who had been rather inappropriately vocal, was also standing outside, and chose to voice his opinion. 'I wanna go up there. Why can't I go up there', he complained. The staff who were welcoming guests were very sympathetic in their reaction, and also chose to ignore him. The bar on the opposite corner had an open rooftop, where a large crowd had also gathered. Suddenly, out of nowhere, the 'Men in Black' appeared and went in and out of the hotel, and then over to the bar. Within no time at all, the rooftop and balcony were cleared and the vocal spectator felt as if he had won a major victory.
The doorman approached me, and I was convinced he was going to ask me to move on, but instead he engaged me in conversation. The compliment was unexpected. He had recognised my 'English elegance', Had I been in any other city in the world, I would have moved along and considered it somewhat of a 'line', but Austin is what it is, and compliments are given, and taken, without conditions. However, I was rather unnerved by the photographer who was snapping me from all angles. At first I thought he was taking pictures of his wife, and then convinced myself he was fascinated by the architecture, as I had asked if he wanted me to move, but the lady behind the pillar was not his wife, and told me, 'He wants to put your picture in the paper'. I can only assume it was my pose, as I stood with my camera held up to my face, ready to 'click' at any time. He did move on.
Samantha called me after I had been standing, waiting, for approximately two hours, and said that she had walked to the barriers which were just behind our office, and seen the President leave Stubb's BBQ restaurant, and then watched the motorcade advance up the road. I thought she had gone mad. What on earth would the President be doing at a BBQ restaurant. It all seemed a little peculiar, and I was convinced she had made a mistake, when dozens of police motorcycles came down the road and parked another block down from where I was standing. I heard through the crowd that they were waiting for 'him' to leave. About forty five minutes later, they mounted their bikes again and whisked around the block out of sight. It was when the woman standing next to me announced, 'He made an unscheduled stop at Stubb's', that I realised I was indeed at the wrong place at the wrong time! To add insult to injury, one of the hotel staff declared, 'He probably wouldn't come out of the back entrance of the hotel'. It was one of those 'palm against the head' moments, when you realise you have done something very silly. I had been standing for nearly three hours at the wrong entrance.
Although I had seen several special agents and had seen a few large black cars, which were probably part of the entourage, I had missed my chance. I thanked the doorman for allowing me to stand outside without moving me on, and thanked those around me for the short-lived friendship, and wished everyone the obligatory, 'nice day'. I made my way towards the post office. However, the crowd at the top of the next block were not moving, and the police motorcycles were lined up along the road. I walked as quickly as my shoes (which were now an extension of my swollen feet - when will I learn not to take long walks in high heels!) would allow, and made it to the next block. I was not too late. My camera however had decided that enough was enough, and the battery, like my aching feet, was exhausted. My phone still had a lot of life left in it, and was going to be put to the test. Suddenly, the crowd erupted, the police cycles started to move, and I saw the presidential car, with the flags flying proudly, round the corner, and the motorcade followed in true, American style. I held my phone high and snapped a picture of...........the girl in front of me taking a picture!
It was amazing. Although Samantha achieved the view of the man himself, I was very excited that at least I had witnessed the cortege. Unfortunately, just as the last car left our sight, the heavens opened, and the much needed rain poured down onto the crowd. Fortunately, I had in my possession a plastic poncho, which I was not ashamed to wear. My English elegance was replaced with Girl Guide, 'Be prepared', mode. With raindrops hitting the pavement and bouncing a foot high, I marched to the post office, and then back to the office. I was rather upset that I had been unable to let my short-term friends know that they needed to come around the block, but it was what it was.
The postman did manage to get round to drop off the mail at the other end of the street, and I walked the remaining letters over to him. He opened the door of the condo building, where he was making his delivery, and I told him of my days events. One of the residents, a blind man, entered and listened for a while before wishing us a good day, and walked away to wait for the elevator, just as I was at the 'picture of the girl taking the picture' part. It was then that I lodged my foot firmly in my mouth, and my powers of observation failed to connect with my sense of common, and I announced very loudly, 'Who needs photos when you have eyes to see it for yourself!' Suddenly, I became one of the 'inappropriately vocal'.
The traffic was not as bad leaving town as we had imagined, and we got home very swiftly. The week had ended rather well, and we had the weekend to look forward to. Dana's sister was taking his mother to Dallas to visit his brother on Saturday, for mother's day, and we were going to drive up to spend the day with them. With today being mother's day in the USA, I will not have to worry about writers block, next week, when I attempt to entertain with
............. another story.