Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Back from the White House

Yesterday I spent the day in DC, mainly to attend President Bush's remarks on volunteerism. I have been to the White House before to see speeches (went to the Rose Garden in the mid-80s to see President Reagan and also got to interview the first George Bush). But it has been a few years.

It definitely wasn't as glamorous that you might think. First, I stood in line to get through security for nearly an hour in the blazing hot sun. I'm from Florida, so I'm used to heat, but not when I'm wearing a suit and tie. It was brutal. The sweat was just rolling. Everyone was overdressed for the occasion, knowing that it was at least 90 at noon.

This time, I saw this function from the a different perspective, that of someone who produces many events each year and knows the work that goes in behind the scenes to make an event work and seem seamless to attendees.

The White House staff was crawling everywhere getting things done (lots of fresh-faced recent grads or interns with Blackberries). But there were glitches that probably few others noticed (the CD of patriotic music skipped several times, for example).

I even noticed flaws in the White House itself. You might think its perfect, but it's got issues with paint, cracks, etc. The facade is perfection, but it's really not.

The president spoke about the importance of everyone giving 4,000 hours to service to others. It's' a worthy issue and one that deserves attention. That's why I went-- it wasn't because I wanted to rub elbows with politicans or say "I've been to the White House" or show off. It was to support the cause of service.