Today would have to be one of the wackiest days of my life. I woke up in a Methodist church summer camp bunk cabin, swelteringly hot due to the furnace that ran all night. I bundled up crossed a hundred yards of snow in near-silent snow-covered frozen landscape, and took my first shower in three days. Luckily it was a hot shower.
After hitching a ride with Jerry, Eric and Kristen to Storm HQ (they haven't started calling us Stormtroopers yet, probably for a good reason), I was immediately put to work as floor border collie. My job was to escort people from the door to David at the check-in desk, to the holding pen, to the training room, to Collette and Vince, the canvas route distributors, then to the check-out desk and out the door.
The expected "storm" of people never did materialize today, so I had a lot of downtime. I chatted with all sorts of people, most of which are very together, very professional (in nature if not in attire) and very friendly.
It was, however, fun to watch Cecelia and Collette roll on the floor when I said "Stupid tricksy Kerry supporters," in my best Gollum voice.
The weirdest moment of the day was when Vince, one of the route distributors came up to me and said, "Your name is Steve?" Yes, I replied. "Crazy Steve?" Yeeessss, I replied warily. "Did you used to room with Arne Baker?" Good God! I replied in shock.
Arne Baker was my roommate in my first year in the dorms at the University of Oregon. He was a curious fellow with some curious pursuits and I'm afraid I made life a little touch and go for him. And while he didn't name me "Crazy Steve," he sure promoted it.
Vince was his roommate in our second year. I did meet him once, and I do remember his voice for once, they teased me unfairly for my repeated use of the word "validation." He actually kept in touch with Arne and informed me that Arne now works in the State Department, doing international reconnoiter work for our ambassadors.
So on my second day in Iowa I meet someone who knew me in Eugene. I didn't think anything could top that until I was assigned stage set-up duty for a West Des Moines rally. We drove out to a high school and folded up tables and put up signs and then waited and waited. Eventually people started to show up and I made myself useful as a greeter. Hanna's scarf easily identified me as a politico wannabe, which steered interested Dean supporters to our tables and away from the Tigers, who were winning their home basketball game.
When I was a kid, I once even thought that the world shown on the globe didn't really exist and that my hometown was all there was. There have been times in my life when I think that everything you see on television is just a computer-generated world, entirely fiction, and that an ordinary schmoe like me could never get to it and could never touch it.
I was assigned rope duty in front of the stage with a few other volunteers. When Al Gore came out, he went down the line and I was third to shake his hand and thank him personally for endorsing Governor Dean. He wasn't some television fiction but the real thing, just a man, slightly taller than me, with sad eyes and a hand that felt like my dad's.
The speech went by in a blur because I spent the time concentrating on my body and face posture, since we were in camera view. Then we kept getting whispering little instructions from the staff people about when to shout and when to block the press people from rushing forward. But it was truly exciting to be a room cheering for the should-have-been president and feeling like in some way, I was part of a historical event, no matter how small.
A group photo of the volunteers was taken and I steered the VP to stand in front of me in the center of the group. I haven't received a copy of the photo but I will post it here.
In the car ride back, I sat in the center of the sport utility vehicle and I was truly jabbering to the other passengers. Then Kim, from Texas, who was sitting on my right, asked me my name. After I answered, she said, "Oh, YAERE Stueve Rainsum!"
Folks, I have just learned that the absolutely most flattering thing you can say to someone after they've told you their name is to say, "Oh, YOU'RE Joe Bloe!" It is so flattering to have a reputation.
And then Star called on the cell phone and I had the entire car say hi to her. I was just giddy, truly in my element and so happy to be part of this group. So I say it again, one of the wackiest days in my life, and also one of the happiest.
Thanks to everyone who helped me get here.