And no, my people, I was not there as a tourist. I was there as Press. The Human and Health Services Department held an event at the White House yesterday to discuss the Affordable Care Act and how it impacts minorities. I collaborated with the Cameroon American Council, but it was my merit that got me there: Verastic.
When the e-mail got back to me and asked for my details (full name, date of birth, social security number, etc), I sent it in, but I did not really expect it to go through. I mean, we are talking about the White House; I’m sure that there are members of the Press with more credibility who are not given a pass. And me, I’m just the girl from Verastic. So when I got it, I couldn’t even dance. I just stared blankly and thought, “Now what?”
We were to arrive at 8:30 AM at the West Wing of the White House, a place I have heard of only on television. I have been calling myself a West Winger since I got the arrival instructions. And when Igwe talks small nonsense, I’m sure to remind him, “Do you know who you’re talking to? A West Winger. Don’t make me call my colleagues at the White House.” I was advised to take the Marc train into Washington D.C. because of traffic and parking, but I have never been on the Marc train, and I did not think that I should be practicing that on the day I have to be at the White House at 8:30 AM. Plus, it’d mean that I have to leave the house at like 5 AM AND I’d have to take like three trains or something like that. No, thanks.
I decided to call my friend, Kay instead who works in D.C. He said I could park in his job’s parking garage which is close to the White House, and I can walk to the White House in about fifteen minutes. Just fifteen? Easy! Driving was easy. Parking was easy (although communicating with a parking attendant who barely speaks a word of English when you’re in a hurry can be a little more than frustrating). Walking to the White House was anything but easy. First of all, it was not fifteen minutes; it was more like 30, and I was walking FAST. I thank God that I had the sense to wear flats and carry my heels in my bag. Or else, I would have quit my White House journey and told Jesus to take the wheel.
Although I could see the White House from where I was, I couldn’t access it directly. I had to keep asking for directions. Go left, go right, go front, go back. And finally, I got to the West Wing gate, which was heavily guarded. First I had to stand outside while someone asked me, “How may I help you?” I told him what I was there for, and he asked for my last name and checked his list. Then the gate opened and I stepped to the window. I can only imagine the kinds of things that that window can withstand: vampires, werewolves, demons, witches and wizards. Oh, and maybe bullets, too.
At the glass, they took my ID and did some stuff to it. Then I was let through a door that looked even stronger than the window sef. I put my bag and camera bag through the scanner, and then I, too, went through the scanner. But that wasn’t the end. They did so much more, and I am even too tired to tell you everything. I was handed a pink badge, which made me happy. President Obama must have gotten my memo: please make my badge pink to match the theme of my blog. Even after all the security, I had to get an escort to take me to the press room where I waited to be taken to the actual event.
At the press room, I immediately ran to the bathroom to freshen up. I changed my shoes, retucked my blouse into my ankle pants, pee’d, and applied my lipstick. These things did not necessarily occur in this order. I met and networked with fellow bloggers and members of the White House – if that’s what they are called.
No, I did not meet Obama. I didn’t think I would anyway. If he had come in there, I might have passed out and started speaking in tongues. I didn’t meet Bo Obama, the First Dog either. But I did tell the people to extend my greetings to him and tell him to send me a bark when he can. On my way back to the parking garage, I took the opposite turn before I decided to ask for directions. I tell you, my ability to get lost is remarkable. Driving home, I was hungry, sleepy, and tired.
Earlier this year, I mentioned in my 2013 plans that I would like to meet and work with/for Barack Obama. Today did not count as either of them, but I know that I did crack that door open a little bit. Pray for me. The dreams I have are too big to mention publicly, but as they happen, you know you’ll be the first to know. Some day, I’ll tell you my entire story. But for now, I just have to state that sitting in that White House today was surreal.
The post you have just read is the unofficial report of my White House visitation; the official one is still being worked on. Thanks, everyone!! And don’t forget about my class this Saturday. Four more days!! Click to find out more.
P.S. I was mortified by the way that they had me park in some weird parking garage. I kept wondering, why can’t they let me just drive into the White House through the gates? Does Obama know they’re making me park somewhere else? Where is the valet attendant of this White House? In fact, put Obama on the phone! Imma need to have a talk with him.
UPDATE: Read my official report here