Thursday, September 17, 2009

O-BA-MA!

As you may know, I have a job. I like it a lot, so I don't talk about it on my blog. This is one of the reasons why I haven't posted very much during the past year. Although it's reduced my blog posting frequency, today's episode should make up for all that. For you see, today my job allowed me to attend an Obama healthcare rally! Let's just say that I work at U to the M to the D. And guess where the president came to drum up support for his policies?

Here! And I was there to document it for you (and also to hear the president).

The information about the rally mentioned that it would start at 11:00am; that doors would open at 9:00am; and that people could start lining up at 5:00am. I figured I'd just arrive at my usual time and if I missed it, I'd head over to the office. As I approached the basketball arena, I saw that the line didn't seem too long. But then, a security guard stopped me. "Are you looking for the VIP line, or the regular line?" he asked.

"The regular line...?"

"It starts over there." He pointed across the parking lot. "Cross the footbridge, turn west, and you'll see all the people waiting."

So I set off.
I found this line. I was a bit surprised, considering that the rally venue was now almost directly behind me and over a footbridge, but... well... I didn't have much choice, did I? Besides, this was my chance to visit some of the campus I'd heard about but had never seen.
Oh! Here's a familiar landmark! I'd seen this stadium before, but never from this side.
Or from this close...
We continued on past the recreation center, and then finally got to the arena. I don't have any pictures of it because the security was really intense. As you might be able to tell from the pictures, it was a gray and rainy morning, so many attendees had brought umbrellas. We weren't allowed to bring them in with us, so there were hundreds of umbrellas decorating the low walls of the parking garage. I'd been warned about the "airport-like" security, so I had come prepared, bringing no purse and stuffing my pockets with my wallet, keys, phone, and camera. I also brought a library book because I figured I'd need it during my hours of waiting. Little did I know that it would cause a stir! Several women were turned away because of their purses, and the trashcans were full of lighters and bottle openers. The policeman almost confiscated my book, but I managed to convince him that I wasn't going to use it as a projectile (it was a library book, for goodness sake! I wouldn't risk my credit there).

Once in the arena, we waited in line for another half an hour before being allowed to take our seats. For about two hours after that, the marching band entertained us while we waited for Obama to arrive. I felt bad for the student who introduced him - we had been waiting so long for the president that when the announcer said, "Ladies and gentlemen, Rachel S*!" the crowd actually let out a disappointed groan before beginning to applaud. And then... the band played "Hail to the Chief" and out came Barack!

It really was almost like being at a rock concert. Cameras were flashing, people were screaming... I'm surprised no one threw underpants! Here is my video documentation of the whole thing:

video

There was one protester who screamed something about babies being killed (I couldn't really hear his exact terminology), but he soon left. When I got back to work, my colleagues had all watched his speech from the whitehouse.gov streaming video site, but they still wanted to know how it felt to be there. Later I found out that there were about 15,000 people in attendance. All in all, a good way to spend my personal leave!

*I'm sorry, I forget her name. It sounded like "See."

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