Wednesday, November 25, 2009
Governor Sarah Palin came to New York on Saturday. I have been looking forward to sharing the details with you, but I needed a little time. First, you have to understand how I function. I am wired as a thinker. Some say I think too much. It takes me time to process things. Then when I share experiences, I purposely leave things out. That is because I am also wired to feel that some experiences are cheapened when you try to put them into words. So much gets lost in the process. Also, for me, trying to write or speak about things that matter to me deeply is sometimes a rather painful experience--even if the experience was joyful. I know some of you just read that and thought, "What?!" But I know instinctively that there are a few who thought, "I totally know what you're talking about, Adrienne."
So here goes...
I was excited when I learned the governor would be in Rochester. Rochester is a four hour drive for me, a short drive as far as I was concerned. I went to college right outside of Rochester, so I have friends there. It would be a great opportunity to see Governor Palin again and visit with my friend, Paula, since I would be staying at her house.
The highlight for me was being given the opportunity to serve at the book signing. I use the word "serve" on purpose because that is exactly the way I saw it. I was glad that I would be able to do whatever needed to be done for Governor Palin. It didn't matter what it was. I wanted to get to spend time with her, but I also knew that if helping out meant otherwise, then so be it. I was just glad to serve someone who has served God, her family, and the American people so faithfully. That was my number one desire--and the Lord opened that door for me. It amazes me how good God is.
I got up at 3:00 a.m. Saturday morning and drove to Rochester. When I arrived at the store prior to its opening, I saw the multitude of people outside. Wow! The line went all the way down and around. Many, if not most, of these people had camped out all night--in cold Rochester, NY.
I entered the store, and my work day began. I met up with the others who were working on the Palin team for this event. Marty and Russ were two of them. Between them there was incredible experience working for President Bush, with the McCain-Palin campaign, and doing advance work for years. It was interesting to be able to get to talk and share throughout the day.
We were responsible for various things, like setting up the book display, planning the route the crowd would take, deciding how things would flow, choosing the music that would play in the background during the signing. We set up the table where she would be signing and arranged the back room where she would be entering, getting it ready for pictures, etc., as we greeted her upon her entrance.
One responsibility was addressing people in the crowd when there were too many people and the wristbands were depleted. Of course, everyone was hoping that they would still get to meet Governor Palin, but with the crowds she's drawing, we just weren't sure. We told the people that if she was able she would surely sign for even those who did not secure wristbands, but there was no guarantee. The governor had sent autographed book plates, however, which made many people very happy.
Marty, Russ, and I went to Wegman's for lunch, and after eating we picked up a few things that the governor would need. As we gathered the items, I couldn't help but think back to the anonymous McCain staffers who called her a diva and said she was demanding things during the campaign. Her response to that had been that she didn't ask for anything except an occasional diet Dr. Pepper. Sure enough, that was about all that was on her list: diet soda, water, and some straws. Hardly a diva's demand!
A couple hours prior to the governor's expected arrival, everything was in place. I changed clothes and got to mingle with some more people outside. It was cool to meet people who knew who I was, some from Auburn in June, some from reading my blog, some from Team Sarah. Everyone was so excited about meeting Sarah Palin.
In the back room, I was privileged to meet Ms. Betina and her dentist, who had driven hours to be there. I knew she was a friend of the Heaths. Mrs. Heath had told me about her before, and I was looking forward to meeting her. We had a wonderful conversation, and I enjoyed her wisdom and strong Christian faith.
Two lines had formed outside: one for wristband wearers and one for those without who had lined up anyway, just in case she would be able to get to them before she had to depart. I had a desire to go talk to those without wristbands--just wanted to encourage them. I felt like being around them, as I had such respect for their perseverence. So I went out and talked to some people. Some tried to get me to tell them which way she would enter and if she would arrive on the bus. Everyone wanted to see the bus. No bus in New York, though. I laughed with those asking, but I gave no information, and we joked about that.
When word came that she was just a few minutes away, those who were going to greet her and work that night gathered in the back room to wait for her arrival.
I knew she would have Piper and Trig with her, and I was looking forward to seeing them again. I knew that Mr. Heath, the governor's dad, was also in New York, and I figured he and I would laugh about basketball again--and we did. He was talking about a game of H-O-R-S-E.
I was especially looking forward to seeing Mrs. Heath. Originally she did not expect to be in New York, so when I had learned she would be, I was so glad I would get to see her. Like her daughter, there is something very special about her. I couldn't help but remember the last words she spoke to me on July 26th in Alaska when I said goodbye to her at the Governor's Farewell Picnic.
I wrote (emphasis added):
At the end of the picnic when I went to say goodbye to the Heaths, Mrs. Heath said, "Oh, we will see you again." I said, "I know you will."
I remember blogging then that there was just something about the way she said it that resonated as truth within my spirit--whether she realized it or not. Read that full post here.
I was delighted to see her again.
The governor was greeted by everyone in the back who awaited her arrival. I was last in that receiving line, and she gave me a warm hug, and we conversed briefly before she went out to sign for over a thousand waiting people. It's funny because the first time I met her in New York, I felt like I did all the talking. This time she talked, and I was humbled by what she said. All I could do when she spoke to me was reciprocate her own words, for they were more of what I wanted to say to her than what I expected her to say to me. I especially cherish the last two words she spoke to me prior to heading out to the people. It wasn't like she spoke them to me; it was more like she spoke them into me. I thanked her and then said the same to her, for they so apply to her. I know you'd like to know what she said, but that's one of those things I will keep to myself. Sorry...
Jason Recher, who has been alongside Governor Palin through every aspect of this tour, offers loyal assistance to her. Now, every person who was working the event was to be strategically placed. It was vital that the supporters knew where to go, that the line continued to move, and that everything went smoothly. I was going to sort of be floating throughout the store. However, Jason sent for me to stand next to him at the table with the governor. I was feeding the books to him, and he was then feeding them to her to sign. Sometimes he would have to go take care of something, so I would feed the books to the governor directly. The whole experience was so completely surreal for me. I totally believe in having a servant's heart, and here I was doing what I wanted to do: just serving.
Being up front like that allowed me to see what goes on, which made me so appreciate Jason, whom I had met in Auburn. Again, I just respect people who are not necessarily looking to be seen or be applauded, who simply see someone they can support and do so. Jason gained my respect back in Auburn, but it grew when he spoke out a few times in recent months to counter the attacks by McCain staffers who were trying to throw the governor under the bus with flat-out lies. He calls a spade and spade and does so in no uncertain terms. While some of these staffers were acting like children, Jason stood up for the truth like a real man.
I watched him sit next to the governor, give her books to sign, make sure she took a break to stand and stretch. I watched him hold her soda can for her so she could take a drink. I observed him get up from the table and come back with Trig in his arms, sit Piper on his lap at the table, and converse when necessary with Governor Palin. In case you cannot tell, I love people who have a heart to serve. I was impressed with Jason for that reason. I thank God that she has loyal people like that around her. That has been my prayer for a long time.
The best part of being at the table with the governor, however, was watching the people's interaction with her. I found myself overwhelmed at times. She has touched so many lives. People were approaching her in line, and as they came near, I could see some suppressing tears. Others just let them flow. One woman said she had told herself she would not cry. Others were shaking. Of course, over and over, people were staring and saying, "She's so beautiful!" I remember hearing that in both Auburn and Alaska. I will repeat what I said when I first met her: television and pictures do not do justice to how beautiful she is, and you could see that on the faces and hear it on the lips of those gathered. They were in awe. She possesses both an inward and outward radiance.
Governor Palin asked every person's name, shook everybody's hand, and never denied a request. Technically, she wasn't going to personalize anything, but she never said no when asked. Technically, she wasn't going to engage in too much conversation due to the number of people gathered, but she didn't rush anyone along. She listened to all the people--young and old--who said they loved her, that America needs her, and that she inspires them. She listened to veterans and reminded them that the book is dedicated to patriots like them. She listened as some spoke of her son, Track, and wanted her to give him something they had brought. She took extra time with those in wheel chairs and asked about their conditions. She encouraged a young woman headed to college who said she was nervous. I heard the governor say, "Don't be nervous. The world is your oyster." She congratulated newlyweds, and shook little children's hands. She commented on patriotic T-shirts and asked what people do for their life's work. She proclaimed, "God bless you," and repeatedly said, "Thank you." People told her to keep fighting, not to let them get her down, begged her to run in 2012, and one even said, "You are our country's last hope." Many told her they were praying for her and believing for God's best in her life. I was blown away.
I already knew people respect Governor Palin and appreciate what she represents. However, there was nothing quite like being right there, a foot away, seeing the tears, hearing the hearts, and feeling the love. It was real, it was tangible--and it was reciprocated. I say again what I have always said, and what I knew in my bones the first time I met her: Sarah Palin is the real deal.
What a joy it was to see a smiling Trig and Piper, tired but helping out at the table. I looked back a couple times to see Mr. Heath smiling at his daughter and Mrs. Heath looking on approvingly. At one point, as I was working with the books, Mrs. Heath came behind me with a hug and just said my name.
The governor came early to Rochester and stayed late, determined to greet everyone, even when it caused her to run late for her departure. I was so glad when the crowd without the wristbands got to meet her and have their books signed. I said to a couple of them as they waited to greet the governor, "Persistence pays off, doesn't it?" I enjoyed conversing with people as they approached. Some were voicing their excitement or wiping their tears. I told one who was trying to maintain composure, "I totally understand."
Much too soon, it seemed, Governor Palin was on her way, having made some avid supporters ecstatic, most of whom camped outside Borders in Rochester, New York all night long, many of whom remained there all day--just for a few seconds to tell her to keep on keeping on, to share her impact on their lives, and to express gratitude for what she represents and the sacrificial service she has given in spite of the abuse she has received. Her signing their copy of Going Rogue was just icing on the cake.
Shortly after she left, I went in the back to gather my belongings, and a few of us were going to go grab a bite to eat. That included Kristina from Inspiration Sarah, her sister, Katelyn, Ron from Alaska Governor Sarah Palin's Accomplishments, and VidSweet. I had been on my feet all day, and my dogs were barking, as they say. When I came out, ready to leave with the rest, a man stormed his way inside, threw eggs at a display of the governor's books, and said, "Sorry, I missed you, Sarah!"
I was in a bit of shock for a split second. When my brain thawed, my first thought was, "Did he get eggs on my autographed books?!" Eventually I thought of my clothes and asked if I had eggs on them. Sure enough, I did, for I had been standing right next to the display. I then went out after him and was told that he was gone. After standing around like, "What in the world just happened?" Kristina said, "Are you going to change clothes?"
I changed, and when I came out I was told that the cops apprehended him and needed to talk to me. When I saw him, I verbally lit into him and asked what the deal was. He admitted that his intent was to hit Sarah with the eggs. He was sorry that he hadn't gotten there sooner. When he realized he hit me with the eggs, he apologized repeatedly and asked for my address so he could send me money for the dry cleaning bill. (Don't even ask a dumb question. Y'all know I did not give that man my address!) He seemed to be a complete nut, and I got on his case about his trying to hurt the governor. He said he had watched something on television about her that made him upset and he let his emotions get to him. What in the world?!
It all boiled down to his having to pay for the several books he destroyed. I chose not to press charges, since I would have to stay there later to go through the process and return there to go to court (at least once). I live four hours away.
I was tired, and it was late. I wasn't sure what to do at first, but I made the decision to let him go. The police felt they had sufficiently scared him but left the decision up to me. Although I later regretted letting him go, I am back to believing I did the right thing. Legally, I was supposed to charge him for hitting me with eggs. However, I really couldn't have cared less about the eggs on my clothing. My real beef was that he wanted to hurt Governor Palin. So I really would have been pressing charges because of his intent, rather than what really took place. I let him go and let the cops deal with him. They had him in the back of the cop car.
The scary part was seeing that a person could just as easily have come in with something more dangerous than some eggs and done some real damage. The media needs to get its act together. Many in the mainstream media have done their best to demonize Governor Palin. They have painted her as anti-women, anti-books, anti-animal rights, anti-Black (MSNBC loves that one), anti-everything. They have said she is a liar, dangerous, and a religious nut. In my mind, their vile, biased, and demonic attacks against her hold some responsibility for the egg-attack. So-called journalists need to return to what they were hired to do--fairly report facts not push an agenda--or they will find they have caused more damage than some books and clothing splattered with yolk.
The Egg-Man certainly could not taint the day. I had rather it be me than the governor anyway, and I tell you what: dude should be very, very glad she was no longer there. If he had come a few minutes earlier and managed to hit her with eggs, he would have gotten jacked up. I will leave it at that. It seems like his tardiness was an act of God, not just for Governor Palin, but for him. Trust me; it would not have been pretty.
Sunday evening is when it all sort of hit me. The previous day's events came swirling back at me, and I was humbled beyond words. When I reflected, all I could do was thank God. In fact, even as I worked up front during the signing and looked over--listening to people, watching them--at times I was just silently praying--for her, for God's plan through her. At times, I just found myself quietly saying, "Thank You, Jesus." But Sunday evening and Monday morning as I prayed, it really hit me, and the cloud that had separated the full intensity of wonder from my consciousness lifted, and I was able to get a peek at the full picture. You all won't understand that because that is something between God and me, but the fogginess cleared--and I wept. Okay, there, I said it! I've never pretended not to be emotional!
I am so happy for Governor Palin, for Jason Recher, for her entire staff--all those who have worked so hard to make the Going Rogue book tour such a huge success. The American people have spoken. We appreciate a real leader. We're not using an Ivy League education, a law degree, and the praises of elitists as our measurement for leadership either. We're smart enough to have chosen--as our yardstick--integrity, common sense, intelligence, hard work, love for our soldiers, and a commitment to freedom.
People slept outside for just one chance to meet the woman who fits that bill. They went without food. They endured the damp, cold weather. They waited in long lines. And they hoped against hope that--even when the huge crowd made it look impossible--they would get a chance to see her and to say the same thing to her she has been saying to them, "Thank you."
Helping Governor Palin (H/T VidSweet)
I can't help but smile (H/T VidSweet)
Video clip of working alongside Governor Palin. Thank you, VidSweet, for filming the video. Thank you also, Sheya, for your help with the video.