This will be a little long. Get a drink, get comfy, and enjoy.
Monday was my day to volunteer at the Marriage Factory. We knew President Obama was in Oakland. The paper had given the routes he would be taking, and the streets that would be closed by security. He was to have dinner off the main road close to us. But he was being brought in through a different route. Later he would be at the Fox Theater downtown. Again we could get around those road closures. He was no where close to the Marriage Factory. Wrong!
Marty headed down toward the Lake Merritt to avoid downtown. We turn on Madison, and it was closed. Marty kept turning, the roads were closed. I was beginning to think we couldn’t even get home as they were closing roads behind us. What was going on?
I call to tell the clerks I can’t get there. It is all blocked off. Marty was determined. He kept turning, and suddenly there was a street open. Even Madison was open above the closure. No parking allowed, lots of police and vans. He dropped me off and we laughed and said hope he can get in to pick me up.
I asked the Counties Deputies what was going on. They didn’t know but guessed Obama was making an unscheduled stop down the street. Great. I am locked in and the customers can’t get to us. But I was wrong. People parked several blocks away and hoofed it to us. I was doing marriages.
Then the news ran through the building: at 3:00 the President’s motorcade would go by our building. At 5 minutes till the building was emptying out on the street. Camera phones at the ready. As I was headed out, K brought me a license. I said, “I don’t think so. I’ll be back in a little bit.” She told her customers what was going on and they joined us on the sidewalk.
The couple was so excited. They had gone to Obama’s inauguration. Now Obama would be “there” for their wedding.
The whole time we are standing there we can see the Interstate has been shut down. (Major ramp just a few blocks away) The motorcycle police ride back and forth.
First this way
Then back again
The police standing along the street look sterner and sterner. And then we see the cars coming. We had CHP, Oakland police, San Francisco police, Secret Service, more motorcycles, press vans, local officials, Hummers, and an ambulance. They are breaking the speed limit going the wrong way on a one way street. It is good to be President.
This time it is for real.
A sign on the windshield said Wire 1. Anyone know what that means? Other vans said press, officials, stuff like that.
This is what we were waiting for, the limo with the flags and the Presidential Seal. If you look closely you can see the reflection of us on the side of the car. Even though the windows are heavily tinted, we could see someone waving at us. We are sure it was Obama and not a flunky. And then they were all gone.
I took the couple in and did their wedding. She wore a white stretchy lace dress that had a slip under it. Unfortunately the dress did not stretch enough and it and the slip rode up. She spent most of the ceremony pulling one or the other down. They were a sweet couple and really excited about Obama. They do have a wedding story like no one else.
I finish my last wedding, gather my stuff, and go around the corner to where Marty is parked. The streets are closed off again. What is going on? Oh right, Obama has to leave where he is down the street and go to dinner.
Marty sees the street in front of us is stopped and has been for 10 minutes. He starts to back up and take a tunnel beside us. Oh the big policeman did not like that move. The tunnel is closed. Really? There is no barricade. We don’t argue and go to the gridlock in front of us. Marty finally sees a side street open and we swing around the Lake and gets to a street that will get us home. Success.
Well, we get to the main road to turn off onto our street. The police are everywhere and are shutting down the side streets. Guess who is coming in a different route than announced. I guess this is how they keep him safe, unannounced routes.
We were lucky. Our street is a main artery and they are saving it until last to close. We got home by the hardest.
Lots of a hassle when the president comes to town. This was really bad because they were closing highways and streets at rush hour. Well to be fair, rush hour here is 4:30-10 in the morning and 3-7. It is hard not to mess up rush hour.