The Story Behind The Press Pass

Working seven days a week really leaves no time to know what is going on in the world.  Lately, if I don’t overhear a conversation or catch a short radio news blip I am usually clueless about any news, family, friends, town, region, let alone country or world news.

Sunday, when I met my friend to carpool to our teaching jobs she told me we were making a side trip on the way.  She, like me, is a super busy person and found out through a friend that Barack Obama would be coming to our area (Lebanon, VA).  We stopped at Rick Boucher’s campaign office in Abingdon where we met a small gathering and a sign on the door that said they were out of tickets but more were on the way.  Had I known this the day before I would have had no problems at all getting a ticket because I had lots of time to kill before I went to work that morning, just thee blocks from Boucher’s office.  We had 30 minutes until we had to be at work so we decided to wait it out.  A local news crew was outside and asked for volunteers for interviews, thankfully someone else jumped being interviewed.  After their interview, they moved the camera to start filming the few of us standing outside in the hot sun (the nice cool inside was full).  Just as they started filming, they came out to tell us that there weren’t any tickets coming.  Only a few were left and they were giving those out at other places, other places that were too far for us to drive to because we had to be at work in 5-10 minutes.  Here’s a screen shot of us on the 6:00 news.

wcyb1 9-7-08

When we left the phone calls to friends started.  Mine was to my brother who is taking a photography class and had mentioned to me earlier in the week that if either of the candidates came close they would be able to get press passes to go see them.  My brother and I have differing views on politics and he would argue his side with me until he is blue in the face if I would argue back (he didn’t learn the “don’t talk politics or religion” thing from mom very well).  Even though the first words from him after I asked if he could get me a pass were, “I’m going to kill you.” and his last words to me were “We’re going to have a long talk about this.” he did say that he would see what he could do about getting me in.

Sunday & Monday, it seemed like everyone I bumped into was going to see Obama.  I even received an email from a friend that I was supposed to have lunch with that she needed to cancel because she was leaving work early to go.  Early in the day, I spoke to my Sis-in-law (who is in the same photo class with my brother) and she said she would talk to their professor about getting me in.  I kept anxiously waiting and very quickly answering the phone every time it rang.  Finally, she called to tell me that I was on the list to get a press pass but there was no guarantee that I would be able to get in.  I was so excited but I didn’t want to talk about it in case it didn’t happen.  I informed my boss that I would need to leave work early and after I told him the reason why, he proceeded to (even more so than usual) treat me like crap for the rest of the day and all of yesterday.

Since I am not a student, I wasn’t for sure that the college was going to agree to give me a press pass but luckily, I didn’t run into any problems.  I spent all day just waiting until the minute I could leave work and meet the rest of the group.

I met my Bro & SIL at the college and rode with them.  When we arrived, the crowd was amazing and parking was non-existent.  We found a place to park and began walking up to where it looked like press people may be headed to.  Then I spotted the guy that informed me on Sunday that there were no more tickets and told my SIL to ask him where we should go.  When we walked up to him, he said “Hey, do you need any tickets?”  Face-palm.  “I thought there weren’t anymore tickets?”  “Oh, people who took extra and didn’t need them are now bringing them back.”  *Grrrr* He then proceeded to take us up the hill (past the extremely long line) and lead us to the press sign in table.

We were not a pre-approved press group so we had to wait until we had approval to go in.  While waiting for approval I tried to call my friend that I carpool with to let her know that they were giving away tickets but it went to her voicemail.  Then we all signed in and had to go through security checks.  The guy checking ID’s told me that my press pass photo didn’t look a thing like me.  Haha, I had the photo taken just a few hours before and I was wearing the exact same outfit.  Finally, we were allowed inside and they showed us where to stand.

Seated just beside the press section was my friend that I was supposed to have lunch so that was cool.  There were also a couple of local celebrities there, Ralph Stanley and Big Tom from Survivor and of course, there were local politicians there such as Senator Puckett.

Rick Boucher came out and gave a speech before Obama came out.  His speech answered the question that I had been rolling around in my head,  “What is Obama’s stance on liquid coal?”  I was very happy with his answer; “Obama is a friend of coal.”  After that, a local teacher came out to do an introduction.  Lucky, lucky girl.

Barack Obama 09-09-08 Lebanon, VA

Senator Obama spoke for about 30-40 minutes and then took questions.  My particular favorite was a question that came from a teacher in the crowd about No Child Left Behind & I loved the answer that came with it.  Standardized testing has led to teachers teaching the test and nothing else and “it makes for uninspired teaching and uninspired students”.  His solution is to come up with other ways of evaluating students than just using standardized testing and looking more toward the individual improvements of a student.

Barack Obama 09-09-08 Lebanon, VA

I ended up taking 147 photos and recorded the entire speech with my mp3 player.  I haven’t listened back to the entire thing yet but I am planning on doing that today and taking notes while I do.  Some parts are hard to hear but I think it came out pretty good from the little bits that I have listened to so far.

Barack Obama 09-09-08 Lebanon, VA

After everything was over and we were headed back to the car, I spotted my friend that I carpool with who at the last minute got a ticket from another friend.  We were so excited that we were both able to attend.

Barack Obama 09-09-08 Lebanon, VA

P.S. The “lipstick on a pig” comment has totally been taken out of context and blown way out of proportion.


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