So, what have I been up to for the past 24 hours or so? If you live in San Francisco and tried to get around the city this morning or this afternoon, then you might have run into us.
Yes, I was a driver for Democratic nominee John Kerry's motorcade. And it was awesome. This will be a straight geek post - I'm not ashamed - so if you don't dig geeky political enthusiasm, you may as well just check out the photos and wait for the meaty stuff later.
No, I didn't drive John Kerry himself, duh - that would be Secret Service territory. I drove some of his key staff, however. Hardworking bunch, lemme tell you. They were uniformly considerate, nice people - which is saying something for a group that likely hasn't had more than 3 hours of sleep a night for the last who-knows-how-long.
The gig was mostly waiting time: waiting at the Fairmont, waiting at SFO, waiting at the Fairmont (again), waiting at a high school in Daly City, etc. During those waits, however, we met various members of the Kerry campaign staff, chatted up Secret Service agents and police officers, and looked imposing guarding our "clean" vehicles from many curious passers-by. The actual driving time was short but surprisingly tense. Surrounded by SFPD and CHP, we wound through city streets and onto a clean swept 101 for the runs between Daly City and the Fairmont.
On the way into the city last night, some poor soul on a motorcycle found himself entwined in the procession - not where you want to be when you're 4 cars from the potential future leader of the free world. He was finally wrangled by two bike cops and a CHP cruiser - halted at the side of the road - likely as confused as we were. There's an art to following closely enough to, yet safely distanced from, the car in front. You can't tap the breaks too much, because you have 4 staffers with laptops and deadlines behind you. Leave too much room and clueless drivers try to merge - resulting in some really testy maneuvers by CHP cruisers.
And then there's those guys with the big guns sticking out of the windows all around you. I felt safe - yet surely expendable.
Come to think of it - I won't bore with too many more details - and this will probably be edited later as I come down from this adrenaline and fatigue.
So for now, here's some photos of the day. We got handshakes by the plane - and I placed myself strategically at the end of the line, promising to get pix of my fellow drivers' brushes with greatness. With the understanding that the other guy with a camera would get me. We don't think that ocurred. He got too excited and may have forgotten or messed it up. Sigh. Oh well. Next time . . .
He's in the first green SUV. In the second green SUV are many friendly agents who will kill you no problem if you try anything crazy.
Ever tried to get a motorcade through the crowded, narrow streets of Chinatown? Good times.
Me and the motorcade crew - along with Marvin Nicholson (the taller one in the back with the great tie), Kerry's "Charlie", if you will.
Hello to you too, Senator Kerry!
No! Wait! I don't think they got my handshake photo!
Finally - my photo with John Kerry . . . 's airplane.
But it's proof. I was there.