Today we did not take place in the Day of Service because we planned to go into DC, get our tickets, then go meet up with family in Maryland. We thought this adventure would take a few hours, we did not count on it taking over 6.
In hindsight, it was probably foolish of us not to have anticipated this.
The fun started when we got to the Metro station in Fairfax, VA. It never occurred to us that there would be a long, long line just to get tickets, but there was. We stood in it for about an hour and a half. I don’t know what it was like at other stations, but I think that since ours was a terminus and near enough to several hotels, there was just a glut of people. We wisely bought our tickets for tomorrow when we got up to the machines.
To the Metro’s credit, there were station officers there controlling the lines and helping people buy their tickets on unfamiliar equipment, so the process went smoothly. Just there were just SO MANY people, it took a while.
Once we got into DC we easily found our way to the congressional office building where our tickets were waiting. However, we encountered even more lines! Something like a quarter million people are receiving tickets from their senators and representatives and today was the first chance for most to pick them up. I saw one woman getting her packet and getting so excited that she was really going to be there and it was all going to happen, I thought she was going to hug the aide to death.
We despaired of ever getting through the line when we spotted staffers from the representative our tickets came from. They were out taking names, getting tickets, and bringing them down so people could get through the process faster. After about 20 minutes we had our passes and instructions and were ready to leave for Maryland. Union Station is only a few blocks away from the Capitol, so we headed that way and stopped for a few tourist shots.
Then Union Station was a complete madhouse. Entrances blocked, bad directions, chaos everywhere. And this isn’t even the day of!
The thing that I found most fascinating was the amount of tacky Obama merchandise people were hawking. Not just t-shirts and pins, but flags, capes, hats, earmuffs, pictures, posters, CAPES. It struck me again how great Obama’s branding is. It also made me wonder if there was this much tacky merchandise for Bush. I don’t remember a 4-day celebration for him, either. Is this the mark of a great 21st century president?
Pictures to come. Tomorrow I’m not sure I’ll be able to do my liveblogging – we’re checking on it tonight. But no matter what, I will be there!