I got to see the President of the United States on Wednesday when he visited Scranton. You can check out my Flickr Set of pictures to view how close we were.
Late last week, Karla Porter walked around the office and asked everyone if they would like to go see the President. My answer was, of course, YES! She had a connection to get tickets for the event and needed to respond quickly to reserve them. Fast forward to Wednesday morning. I got to work late that morning because my son forgot his bookbag at the house, and was having a pantyhose-related wardrobe malfunction. In addition to that, River Street was an absolute mess, so I detoured through Kingston. As soon as I step foot into the office, Karla and Pam were ready to leave to start our journey to Scranton. Literally, I walked into the office, set my stuff down, and walked right back out. Best day of work ever!
Our first stop was Perkins in Pittston. We needed the carbs to keep our energy up while standing in line. I had already stopped at the McDonald's Drive-Thru in Shavertown on my way down, so I ended up only getting a plate of bacon and coffee. It's a good thing that I did, because I didn't eat again until 8 or 9pm later that evening. At the Perkins, we met up with Pam's friend's son who is a Political Science major at an area college. After we finished up our breakfast we all hopped in the same car and headed to Scranton High School.
No trip to Scranton, no matter who I go with, is complete without getting lost at some point. I never know where I am going in that town. In our case, the GPS was giving us two options for the same exact street address but with 2 different zip codes. I had this problem a few weeks ago when I traveled to Harrisburg. We ended up pulling over and asking someone how to get there, and luckily he pointed us in the right direction. We parked the vehicle in some strip mall and getting on the shuttle bus, which took us right to the high school. Then it was time to get in line. We were almost toward the front of the line, but it was early and the doors were not opening until 12:30. Here's a picture of my ticket w/ a glaring typo in it:
"Please not parking is limited".
Notice the "Admit One" yellow strip? I quickly noticed that people standing around us all had different color strips. I seen some blue strips, some red strips, yellow and orange. I asked if anyone know what this meant. No one was really sure if it meant anything or if the printer they were printed on ran out of ink. I later found out that this strip determined which section of the Scranton High School Gym you were allowed to stand/sit in. Yellow = Right in Front; Blue = Behind the podium of the president; Orange = Behind the yellow section. I'm not sure about the red section, but I'm thinking they were probably in the bleachers.
We stood in line for about 90 minutes which isn't a big deal if you consider how many hours I stood in line during the Black Friday nonsense (see previous post), however, it was COLD. And….I decided to wear a skirt. Not the brightest idea I've had in recent months. Also, the pinched nerve in my foot was still bothering the crap out of me, so standing on the concrete was really taking its toll on me. By the time we did get into the High School the only thing that I wanted to do, other than get warm, was to sit down. Karla did not want to sit. She wanted to get right in the front row so she could be face to face with the President. I wasn't happy about this at first, but looking back, I'm so glad she dragged me (kicking and screaming) to the front row.
This is how far away we were from the stage:
You could have literally spit on the President, or threw a shoe at him (like some of my Facebook Friends were egging me on to do). By the way, those lights on the upper right were messing up my photos. Everything I was taking was super washed out in the upper right hand corner of my photos. I was alternating taking pictures with my iPhone 4 and regular digital camera (a Fujifilm FinePix F72EXR).
While standing in the front row, waiting for the President, we connected with some friends from Facebook that happened to be at the event as well. Duke Dallas was sitting in the bleachers and Beth Hartman came down to stand with us in the front row. I have photos of them in my Flickr gallery. Someone decided to mention that I was going to be Live Tweeting the visit on Twitter, and my battery was running low the entire day (even with the charging case on my iPhone). The word spread, and before I knew it, I went viral. I felt responsible to share the experience with the Twitter community, so to conserve battery life I restricted my iPhone to the Edge Network, joined the wifi in the High School and turned the brightness on my phone ALL THE WAY DOWN. These are all techniques I learned during Hurricane Irene (you have to learn to be stingy with battery life after not having electricity for 5 days). My other challenge was finding a way to temporarily unlock my Twitter account without having access to a PC. I had my brother do that. I had to guide him how to do it through text message. The Scranton High School wifi thing was funny. They had the SSID and password to join on a paper taped to the floor, btw…password = 12345abcde. At least it wasn't "hello" or "password". I'm thinking this was probably for the members of the press that were stationed in front of us:
There was an Invocation, the Pledge of Allegiance, and the singing of the National Anthem. President Obama was supposed to arrive at 2:45, but I feel like he got there before that. I wasn't watching the clock though. Here he is, in the flesh:
I'm not much into politics, but President Obama is a great speaker, and you couldn't help but feel inspired after listening to him.
After he was done speaking, he walked around and shook hands. I got to shake his hand, although there are no photos of this because normally I try to be behind the camera, not in front of it. This isn't the first time that I shook a President's hand. I also had the opportunity to shake President's Clinton's hand back in the early 90s when he was campaigning. He stopped at the Avoca airport and my Mom was able to score tickets from campaign headquarters. After the hand shaking was complete, it was time to head home. However, I received a direct message on Twitter from Chris Hughes at "Go Lackawanna" wanting to know if I'd do a phone interview with him. Of course, I said YES. Here's the article: http://www.timesleader.com/news/Middle-class_message_receives_a_favorable_response_12-01-2011.html
Michelle Davies, of Sweet Valley, was in the front row for the speech.
“I was kind of hoping to hear some positive news about jobs and the economy,” she said. “I’ve been experiencing some trouble with the economy. Prices are all going up, and you’re not making any more money. I have two kids, so I have to be concerned about saving money for college along with trying to go back to school myself. I’m trying to balance my budget just like the president should be balancing the United State budget.”
I'd just also state for the record that I did not break Gort42's blog. Blogger broke Gort42's blog. I trust Blogger with HTML code about as much as I trust my daughter left alone with a pair of scissors.