Archive for July, 2009

I met Barack Obama! No, not really.

Friday, July 31, 2009

I have a new story. It’s good to have a story in your pocket, you know, for certain occasions.

I try not to abuse my story telling, to tell the same person twice. I work with someone who loves to regale us with the same stories repeatedly, always name-dropping, pretending to be bashful.  They are good stories, but that’s not my way.

I may be embellishing a little. That’s my prerogative as a storyteller. But you can rest assured it’s about 98% true. Here it is, regardless.

Did I ever tell you about the time that I almost got run over by Obama? got arrested for being a potential terrorist? saw Obama?


I got out of the subway completely disoriented, dragging luggage that was literally injuring me as I walked. I asked someone how to get to my hotel, the new Comfort Suites on N. Michigan Ave., showing him my map, and he pointed me in generally the right direction.

I had all these Google maps printed up – between my hotel and the conference hotel, other locations, the subway to the hotel, etc.  The weird thing about these maps, looking back, is that they made everything look a lot farther away than it was. Or maybe Toronto has bigger city blocks than Chicago. I don’t know.

I checked in, dropped my bags, and started frantically unpacking and organizing. I was later than I wanted it to be – I was going to miss getting to the Social Luxe party, and  I was due at the Sheraton in 10 minutes to meet Katie to pack swag bags for the People’s Party.

The phone buzzed – it was a text telling me where to meet her.  I asked for 15 minutes, then jumped in the shower to rinse off the travel gunge and sweat. Attempted to do my hair, threw on some makeup, threw on my skirt and shirt, and away we go.

Except.  Oh.  I seem to have forgotten the map that tells me how to get to the Sheraton from my hotel.  And I don’t even have a map of downtown Chicago. Literally have NO IDEA where I am going.  And of course, little do I know at that time I can actually see the Sheraton if I walk 10 paces outside my hotel.

I beg the front desk for help. They kindly print up a Mapquest map. This is driving directions, not walking, but whatever, it’ll get me there! I head out, it sends me away from the hotel, but I keep following as I don’t want to get lost. I’ll figure out a better way on the walk back later that night.

I end up walking down a street that is more like a ramp underground. It’s under another big hotel.  I notice there are police.  There are lots of police. Why are there so many police?

Some of the roads are blocked off.  Is something bad happening? Should I be here? Is my walk between my hotel and the Sheraton going to be dangerous?

I keep walking, what else can I do? There are more and more police – now standing on the sidewalks. They keep looking at me. I look at them, sort of expecting them to say ‘ma’am you can’t be here’.  They don’t.  I keep walking.

More and more and more police. So either someone has been MURDERED (but I can’t see a crime scene) or there’s some like organized crime arrest of masses of people, or someone important is coming.

Hmm, someone important.  Someone coming to Chicago.  It’s going to have to be someone really important. Oh yeah, there’s that important guy from Chicago.  It could be him!  Maybe I’ll get to see him!

I keep walking. No one stops me. (Note to terrorists: wide-eyed Canadian girls in cocktail party outfits do no get stopped by the cops. Just a tip!!)

More cops.  More road closures.  Can I cross this road?  I see the Sheraton! I need to get there.  Uh oh.  I hear sirens coming.  I look behind me, I can start to see the motorcade. It involves some ambulances with flashing lights and sirens blaring. I’m not sure if I can cross the road, but I jump ahead of the cars and take my chances.

I think I need to get out of here.  I walk across the bridge, I’m so close to the Sheraton now. I keep looking behind me and wondering. There’s just SO MANY cops.  And a huge, huge motorcade.  I get inside, immediately find Katie (thankfully), and find out, why yes, I just missed seeing Obama. Should have stayed around where I was and taken a peek.

But I had people to meet, bags of swag to stuff, deep dish pizza to devour, and a whole weekend of BlogHer ahead of me…


You know what? This would be a much better story if I kept embellishing and you told how I stopped the motorcade, got POTUS to roll down his armoured limo window, and we had a chat about the wonderous wonderfulness of socialized medicine.  Alas, I can’t lie very well.  Ah, well.