When I read in the news yesterday that President Bush was going to have breakfast at a fire station that was roughly on my way to work this morning I decided that I just HAD to go see The Decider in person.
So I hopped on the train, got off at the closest stop, and walked toward the fire station. Now you need to know, this was really a working-class neighborhood; the blocks surrounding the fire station are full of housing projects, elderly homes, and car body shops. As I got closer, I realized that the entire neighborhood surrounding the fire station was barricaded off, trapping myself and maybe a thousand other people in a small area for about an hour. While Bush was in the fire station, no one was allowed to cross any streets in the neighborhood.
Literally (this is completely true, not a Delino embellishment), as The Decider was having his staged photo-op to show how much he "cares about the common men" who do the dirty work to help the country, I saw underprivileged children who tried to get to school but couldn't because of the blocked streets and instead said "screw this, I'm not going to school today." I saw poor immigrants who couldn't get to their minimum-wage jobs in Chinatown so they got yelled at on the phone by their bosses. I saw two employees for Meals on Wheels, the charity that donates unused food to the homeless, who gave up on today's breakfast for the homeless because they couldn't get there in time. And I saw a home-health aid trying to get to her chronically ill patient who lives off welfare and requires 24-hour supervision, but she couldn't get to her for an hour. THE KICKER, of course, which just made the whole thing for me, was when George and Laura's motorcade finally passed by and they waved and smiled at the crowd, none of whom were cheering, some of whom were booing.
As a post-script, I'd like to describe a few of the people I was standing with as I waited for POTUS to drive by. First of all, there was a group of four women from California who all had video cameras and said to each other "Even if he drives the other way and we don't get to see him, boy we still have a story to tell'em back home. I mean, Jesus H. Christ, we were a block away from the President of the United States!" "A block away from the man!" "He's right there!" "I wonder what he's eating?" "I bet it's bacon, I hear he loves bacon!"
But my favorite gawker was a shlubby-looking man who said to me, "Gosh, can you believe it's been five years already." I awkwardly nodded and slowly walked away. A few minutes later, I saw him go up to another unsuspecting chap and say again, "Gosh, can you believe it's been five years already?" Five minutes after that, he, having forgotten our earlier exchange, again said, "Gosh, can you believe it's been five years already?"
GOD BLESS THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA!