February 2, 2009

Inauguration 2009, My Experience

Aisle 9 Safe Way Grocery Store (picture taken with phone)

The alarm sounded at 3:30 a.m. (three short hours after I had gone to bed)

We told the students that we would be leaving the hotel by 4:55 a.m. We had made arrangements the night before with the security guard about transporting all of us to the nearby Metro station. The way I had planned is not the way it played out. It took three trips to transport us to the nearby Pier 1 parking lot. Traffic was already at a stand still by 5:00 a.m. We paid him $200 to drive us (I think 2 miles down the road).

We had to hike down a hill, walk about a mile (in a long single file line) to stand in another line to catch the train.

I carefully divided us into two groups (two by two) to catch the next train out. We were ready! The door hit one group (my group) perfectly and the other one--well not so perfectly. My group was able to rest/relax catch some sleep and hear songs like "God Bless America" while the others were stuck in the next section--standing and being pushed and shoved.

I of course could not sleep. Excited and nervous about what was about to unfold.

We got off at our stop and carefully counted to make sure we had all the students (we did this frequently throughout the day).

Walking down the street was amusement to my eyes. Obama shirts, buttons, key chains, stickers, and even Obama music lined the streets. We found a nearby building that read BREAKFAST. We stopped in for a quick bite to eat and a restroom break (little did we know that would be the last restroom break for the day!)

After talking to some volunteers I had decided that it was not in my best interest to use the tickets that we had acquired through our U.S. Senators and Representative. (the volunteer said it was too cold and being so little I would not see anything--that I should just stay on the outskirts).

There were volunteers dressed in red everywhere! Shouting "Change this way", "Change starts today", "Change", "Change", "Change." It really helped the ambiance of the event.

It was time to decided what we would do. Would we use the tickets--or not? My friend/co-worker decided we would later regret it if we did not use the tickets. So we parted ways. Regina and Randy and their group went one way and we (the group of eight) went the other way.

The beginning of the walk was good. The mood was upbeat. Happy. We were heading toward CHANGE! We were feeling it. The students even got to witness protesters. They really enjoyed that. We even stopped to pose for a couple of pictures. THEN we entered the hectic part. We had to push our way through miles of people. Clenched hands and locked arms, we made it through.

We had finally arrived to the Silver Gate "Heaven." Hmmmmm....where does the line begin? People were filing into the silver gate from every direction. Cops shouting and getting a little rude to stand back. We stood in line only to find it did not move. Bad move--we started back to meet the other group only to find we were stuck. They had closed the entrance of the way we came. We went back to the silver gate, and (long. long. long story short) we stayed outside the silver area. We were close. However, I could not see or hear much of anything.

Oh but that was the good part of the day. You see we could not get back to the hotel! After it was over we pushed our way through to the Metro. Stood in line for an hour--the line did not move. We walked to the next Metro. Line did not move. I finally found us shelter at Safe Way (the grocery store). We sat on aisle 9 to defrost. We got kicked off aisle 9 and I moved us to the chip/beef jerky aisle and found us a bite to eat. We could eat--just not drink. Remember--we still had not had the opportunity to use a restroom.

After an hour of warm, dirty floor, grocery store shelter we were on the move again. To where? Who knows? We wondered the city helplessly looking for a way out!

The other group (since they were on the outskirts of the crowd) were able to make it to the Metro station. They took the train to Springfield, VA--where we were staying. Our bus driver met them and they were on their way to save the day and pick us up! OR so we thought. You see there were 14,000 people walking down the interstate which held up traffic. We waited. And waited. And waited. They could not get to us. His partner was "supposedly" within the perimeter and was going to pick us up. We waited. And waited. And waited.

I was over stalking the empty Metro buses that were just sitting there begging to just sit in one. No luck.

Finally one of the students yelled "he will take us to the hotel for $200." I said yes! Yes! Jonathan, the other sponsor, said $200? I at this point would of paid him $500 to get back to the hotel. It was close to five p.m. and we had been outside in the cold for twelve hours. The lovely driver was yelling for his $200.

It was a nice warm ride back to the hotel. As soon as I got on the elevator--I looked at Jonathan and said "my wallet is in car." He ran down--of course the driver was long gone.

I lost over $200, six memory cards, my favorite lipstick, and my gum. Oh and my id. Yes my id!

I cried. Called Josh. Regina calmed me down. Called the airline to see if I would be able to get home without an id. Josh faxed a copy of an old id and I made it home.

Call me positive, but Saturday afternoon we pulled in the driveway and I saw a large envelope sticking out of the mailbox. I said "Josh it is my wallet." "No, it is my defensive driving record and you know Amanda you really need to hang up the idea that your stuff is going to make it back to you." I still have hope. After all...I experienced the CHANGE in the world!

(it is late and I did not proof read this really, "really" long post--so forgive any mistakes)

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