Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Debate Day Minus One

My day was suppose to start at 9:30 this morning. I got a phone call from Mr. Important at 8 that told me I misspelled a woman's name on my badges and I needed to get to Kinko's immediately to fix it. I put on my suit and headed out the door into The Oppressive weather. It was 8 a.m. and it was already in the upper 80s with 70% humidity.

I headed to Kinko's, but before I could get on the Metro, I got a second call from Mr. Important to meet him at the speech site and to pick up two hardcopies of the speech and a back-up CD, just in case something went wrong.

I was off to Kinko's and turned out a badge in record time. Then I was off to The Hotel to check in the Governor and Mrs. Richardson. I showed up, found out they had been upgraded and viewed the room. Off to the speech site to hand over the hard copy and to wait around. I had two jobs. To make sure no one (especially press) entered the VIP - "hold" - room and to open the back door when the Governor arrived. Like most VIP arrivals, the Governor made his arrival through the loading dock so he could go directly into the VIP room. My job was to open the exterior door when the real Advance Man knocked on the door and then open the interior door to the VIP room for the Governor and his staff. I did exactly that. The door to the VIP room was closed and I was left in that small closet area between the two doors with another intern from the Center. Obviously we couldn't barge into the VIP room, but to leave the building via the back door would put us outside and nowhere near where we needed to be.

I chose to stay in the closet for about 15 minutes until the Governor went on-stage. I then tapped lightly on the door and was let in. Mr. Important was there and gave me a run down on what I needed to do during the afternoon. I was to meet Mrs. R at The Hotel and make sure she got to her room and that she was taken care of. I was given the name of her driver, Wolf, and told to go take care of that. I told Mr. Important, "Ok. I'll see you at The Hotel." I left and called Wolf. He told me that Mrs. R's plane was delayed for one-hour, so I had 2 hours before they'd be at The Hotel.

I breathed deeply and thought that I'd head home to check my e-mail and change shirts. I didn't head directly over to The Hotel and I didn't tell anyone of my detour.

About 30 minutes after I was home, I got a phone call from Mr. Important with "Ok, write this down. I need a chicken soup and a cheeseburger, no fries. I need that in 2 minutes. Pay someone 20 bucks if you need to to get this to work. Bye."

Oh sh*t! I wasn't where I was suppose to be. I called The Hotel manager and had her take my order and got that started. 3 minutes later, as I was putting on my suit jacket, Mr. Important called and said, "Ok. Where are you?"

I replied, "I'm at home and just headed out the door now."

Mr. Important replied, "What the f*ck are you doing there? You were suppose to be here. You told me you'd see me at The Hotel. What's going on with the food?"

"I'm sorry about that. I called Wolf and he said the plane was delayed for an hour so I came home to check my e-mail and grab some lunch."

"F*ck. Ok, where is the debate prep room?"

"Go immediately down the escalators and then make two immediate right turns."


I was already running toward Union Station when he said that. Sweat was just pouring off me when I jumped into a cab (I'm now down money to the campaign...) and made it over to The Hotel in 15 minutes. All the while, I was beating myself up and sending text messages to my wife cuz I needed someone in my corner. When I got there, I took the escalator 2 steps at a time. I turned the corner and there down a long, wide hallways was Mr. Important standing like we were about to draw pistols for a Wild West shootout.

That was the longest walk of my adult life.

When I got near him he said, "We still have no food for the Governor."

In a soon-to-be-oft-repeated refrain, I said, "I'm sorry, sir."

"I need to know I can count on you."

"I'm sorry, sir."

"You f*ckin' lied to me! You said you'd be here. The last words out of your mouth were 'see you at The Hotel.' Were they not?"

Eyes downcast at this point, I offered, "I'm sorry. I screwed up. I should have told you."

"Look, I know you are in this for all the right reasons. If this thing goes all the way, I could take you far. But I can't have people lying to me and not being trustworthy."

After the initial call, my own browbeating and then this verbal lashing, I was sorta in shock and all I could think about was "I could take you far", but mumbled my apology one more time.

He moved to the problem at hand. "You are to not leave this spot, but get everyone you see should be getting the Governor's lunch."

I did exactly that while Mr. Important went and got the Governor from his room. The Governor and Mr. Important returned to the debate prep room. Mr. Important said, "This guy is one of the grassroot's organizers and working nearly full-time for us." The Governor thanked me and shook my hand. He went into the debate prep room before his food did. That wasn't good. After another 5 minutes, the food did show up and Mr. Important left the room.

He said, "I could have said this guy is a lying asshole who let's people down."

Once the soup and burger finally showed up, I was very pleased because I was relieved of my duty and could focus on Mrs. R. All I had to do was meet her curbside, give her the keys and show her the room. Easy assignment.

I called Wolf and he had yet to meet Mrs. R at baggage claim, so I had some time to kill. I ended eating lunch with a very nice New Mexico State Trooper and Mr. Advance Man. Wolf finally called and said they'd be there "in about an hour" so I further molded into the furniture to wait.

About 50 minutes later, the State Trooper says, "There she is."

I turned to see Mrs. R IN THE LOBBY! with Wolf just reaching for his phone. I grabbed my sport jacket and threw it on to rush over to meet her. I rushed up to her and introduced myself. So amateurish, but I hadn't been given any heads up. Wolf hung me out to dry.

I took Mrs. R up to her room and showed her the room service menu and gave her my phone number so that if she needed anything, I was her person. She was nice and gracious. She said she'd probably just lay down after a tiring flight. I returned to the lobby and told her I'd be back up to get her at 5:15 for her 5:30 departure.

Back to the lobby I went for another 90 minutes. As it turned out, I didn't have to wake her because the Governor returned from debate prep early to get freshened up for his evening fundraisers.

The couple left for their events no problem and I thought my night might be over. I called Mr. Important and he said, "Great. I'll be there in 10 minutes. Round up The Campaign Manager and meet me in the debate prep room."

Ok, I'm a lowly volunteer and I'm suppose to corral the 2nd most powerful person the campaign? Well, I'll give it a try. I found Campaign Manager and got him to join me in the debate prep room. We did some chit-chat and he's a nice guy. Mr. Important walked through the door and immediately started talking. He had me write things down and make notes for later. Then he handed me 6 or so tickets and credentials that I was suppose to distribute. When he handed me one "VIP All-Access" pass, Mr. Important said, "This is Mr. R's. If you lose it, I'll kill you. I won't torture you, though. I don't have time." and he cracked a smile. The rest of the room laughed, so I guessed I was back in.

He then talked with Campaign Manager some and was off. I was almost done for the day (7:45 p.m. at this point), but I needed to talk with Mrs. R's body woman about the credentials so I returned to my favorite chair in the lobby to wait for her imminent return. At 8:00, I called Body Woman and found out that Mrs. R was at a fundraiser with lots of old school friends she hadn't seen in a long time. They weren't anywhere close to leaving. I moaned and returned to the chair. Body Woman finally called me about 8:20 and said they'd be back at The Hotel in 15 minutes. I waited 5 minutes and then went to the curb to wait for Mrs. R's arrival.

When she arrived, I opened the door and greeted her again. I asked her about dinner or other plans that she might want for the evening. She said she was plenty happy to get something from room service and then head to bed. I was fine to go home.

Music to my ears! I watched Mrs. R enter the lobby and then jumped in the car with Body Woman. I briefed her on the plan for the Debate and gave her the credentials. It was all rushed, but I was home around 9. 13 hours after I started. Exhausted.

Thursday is Debate Day and I'll have a post for you about that on Friday or Saturday. I'm working during the day on the visibility rally we have planned and then at 5, I'm starting with the campaign. I should be done about 1 a.m.