Monday, February 11, 2008

Barack Obama Campaign Stops Traffic at University of Maryland, College Park

In a series of today's articles, I recount our brush with Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama. For the first time in my lifetime, Maryland's primary vote will matter. I bring my son along for the ride.

8:45 a.m. - Alarm set on wrong time. Stuck in Baltimore. Leave home about quarter to nine, prime rush hour. Cursing under my breath as we inch along I695. Finally, around 9:30 a.m., traffic breaks, allowing beeline to Parkway. As long as there are no major accidents, we should make it to College Park in plenty of time.

9:35 a.m. - Traffic is flowing nicely on I295. Respond to WCBM Tom Marr program request for Obama Democrats. Tom wants to know why Obama has distanced himself from his extended family. "Why don't we see them on the campaign trail," Tom wants to know. Probably for the same reason Bill Clinton kept his extended family off the campaign trail, Tom. They're tangential to the campaign. Perhaps embarrassing. Does anyone remember Roger Clinton antics? Tom tries to bait me with Greenpeace rhetoric. Not falling for it. Before I get a chance to laud Obama's energy platform, call breaks up. Thanks, AT&T.

9:45 a.m. - Debating Tom, a staunch Repiblican, causes me to miss exit. Wrong turn down Kenilworth Avenue. Luckily, a stopped policeman politely obliges request for directions. We quickly make it back to Beltsville exit leading into College Park, but traffic is backed up to exit. Suddenly sweating. Bitter cold outside. What should be five minutes down Route One somehow transforms into thirty minutes. So glad 16-year old son playing hookey to witness history is sound asleep in back seat. Continue silent flogging.

10:15 a.m. - Gnashing teeth and white knuckling steering wheel. Heart pounding. Literally. Will we make it in time? Comcast Center doors open at 10:30 a.m. How long is the line? Will we get inside? Trying to lighten up with Sirius '60s tunes, but no go. Cursing bad karma for not checking alarm time. Should have remembered moving alarm an hour ahead last Friday. Luckily, inner alarm woke me up around 7:20, but still had to drive youngest to school. Of all days for hubby to leave early. Probably didn't want to disturb my deep sleep. Making mental note of husband's kind consideration and lousy timing.

10:25 a.m. - Traffic slightly improves, but no time for parking competition. Ditch car in Jerry's Sub Shop parking lot. Wooded lot in back appears to lead directly to campus area of Comcast Center. Kid and I hit what appears to be the beaten path. Thorns. Branches. Ouch. Keep up. Oh no. Turn back. Big stream. Retreat. Son thinks I'm crazy, but follows along. We'll have to reach Comcast on foot.

10:35 a.m. - Huge line of people snakes from front of Comcast Center, disappearing behind adjacent parking garage. Yellow tape with guards cuts off those heading directly to steps from parking lot. "To the foot bridge," someone cries. To the left we go. Mobs of people search for line's end. Like sheep, we herd into a semblance of order. But no one is directing the ever increasing overflow.

10:50 a.m. - This will never do. Line is barely moving. In fifteen minutes, we've moved approximately twenty yards. How long is this line anyway? It seems to go on forever. Leave son in line as I forge ahead to find out. Man the cell phones.

To be continued....