June 16th, 2012
|11:17 am - The day I met Obama|
Well, last night was officially one of the coolest nights of my life. It went thus:
Jeff and I live on the same block as Obama, but the less-elite block. So, although our home is completely blocked off when Obama is in town and although we have to be on the secret service list to get in, he doesn't really come right down our street. He's been home a few times since he became president, and we've only caught glimpses of him -- his motorcade has driven past us a few times, we've seen him walking through our bedroom window, but nothing up close. We've tried to wait for him one or two times, but Jeff doesn't like waiting around, so it doesn't usually last for long.
Last night, we went to dinner at a delightful French bistro, and then headed back to Hyde Park to hang around and read books (a very exciting Friday night). As we got to 49th and Woodlawn, we were told to turn around by a secret service agent. Knowing this is the usual, we explained that we lived down the street and wanted to go home. Still, he told us we had to turn around, which was unusual. So, I turned around and parked the car on that block, figuring Jeff and I would just walk home and then get the car later. As we walked down the block a few houses, a harried secret service agent came out and asked us where we were going. We said home, and she asked if we would walk back with her to the corner because they had some "folks coming through." We figured those folks were the President and his family, so we happily obliged (besides, we were surrounded by people with guns. It's best to happily oblige all directions in such a situation). As we were standing on the corner, a friendly secret service agent came up to us and said, "Hello, I'm Darryl." We shook hands and said our names, and then the real reason for his friendliness was apparent -- he asked Jeff to keep his hands out of his pockets because "it makes the guys nervous." Right.
Then, suddenly, we spotted Obama and family down the block. He was in the road, slowly walking our way. He waved at us. We waved back. He then headed over to us and shook our hands! I said, "Welcome back to the neighborhood" and Michelle said what a lovely evening it was. She commented how they felt like regular people walking around the neighborhood, which was hilarious, because there was a line of armored vehicles following slowly behind them. We shook both of their hands, we talked for a little bit, and then they (and the youngest daughter) continued on their way.
We stood at the corner and exclaimed in excitement with the couple who was next to us during this encounter. Then, we slowly walked down the block the way he had. We stood across the street for a little while, until another secret service agent asked us where we lived because he said they wanted to clear the block. We explained that we lived a few blocks down on 51st and University, but that they had stopped us from walking and that our car was now on the same block as Obama, surrounded by armored SUVs. He said, "Oh! Well, if you don't mind, we can have an agent ride with you in the car to get you out of here." Jeff and I did not mind in the least. He asked us about drugs, if there were any needles he was going to sit on, or if we had a dog. Then, he waited for a signal, and we all got into the car. The president's entourage of vehicles moved aside for a little bit and we were able to roll slowly towards home with a secret service agent in my car.
Best. Night. Ever.
Oh, also, there is a clip on the ABC Chicago news site that clearly shows Jeff and I talking to Barack and Michelle.