It started out innocently enough – we received a phone call on Sunday afternoon, inviting us to “Come out and see Mitt Romney when he visits Fort Worth this Tuesday!”, followed by information about where and when, as well as a website and phone number where we could get more of the particulars about the event.
Well, honestly – how often do you get a chance to see a Presidential candidate up close and in person?
So, I went to the website, RSVP’ed like they asked, and printed out a map. I thought Paul might like to go, so I included him in the “guests” number.
On Monday, I called the number on the website, because I needed to know if there was going to be seating available (these days I can’t stand very long without my legs threatening to give out). Paul wasn’t going to be able to go, so I was going stag. They said, “Yes”, so I figured I’d give it the old college try.
Then I asked how many people had RSVP’ed – “Oh, about 30 so far.” I asked how many they were expecting to have show up – “We don’t really know; maybe a couple of hundred.” I figured I could handle that; parking shouldn’t be an issue, and I have a Handicapped placard, so hopefully I wouldn’t have to walk too far.
I got up this morning, took a bath, washed my hair – this IS the future President of the United States, after all – and then I put on a nice outfit.
The location was about a 30-minute drive from the house, so I gave myself a nice window; the doors were going to open at 12:45, and the event was scheduled to start at 1:45.
Unfortunately, there was construction on the freeway – LOTS of construction – which meant lots of traffic. What should have been a 20-25 minute drive turned into a 45-minute drive, but I figured we still had plenty of time, and the event was in an out-of-the-way place (and only 30 people had RSVP’ed), so I thought we were still on schedule.
I turn onto the street where the event is being held, and THERE IS A LINE OUT THE DOOR.
Police officers were directing traffic into a parking lot across the street from the venue.
And there was nowhere close to park. Seriously – we had to go to the 3rd or 4th lot to find a parking place. Fortunately, they had golf carts shuttling those who needed help to the building – I took advantage of that, as my legs were telling me I needed the help.
As we got on the cart, we noticed that people were turning around and walking back to their cars. I asked the nice young man driving the cart if there was still seating available for those who needed it (since we had RSVP’ED), and he said that he would take us to a special door and ask.
He told us to sit tight, and went to a table, but came back with bad news. The fire marshal was in the building, and he said “Absolutely no more people are allowed in” – the building was at capacity. And there were still people arriving – old, young, families with their kids waving flags and carrying signs – all excited at the prospect of showing their support for Mitt Romney.
He said they honestly didn’t have any idea that so many people were going to show up – apparently this was the only “public” stop that Mr. Romney planned on making in Texas. (He has a couple of fundraisers planned over the next couple of days)
The young man was kind enough to drive us back to the van, so we didn’t have to trudge back through the parking lot. We got in the van and drove back home (with almost NO traffic to slow us down…..).
The day wasn’t a total loss, though – there were some folks selling campaign stuff in the parking lot, so I got a couple of bumper stickers, some buttons, and a cool hat for Paul:
Considering that there was almost NO publicitiy about this event, and everyone who showed up had come on their own dime (there weren’t any large busses that I could see), I’ve gotta tell ya, enthusiasm is running high for Mr. Romney and his campaign in the Lone Star State.
And if he decides to swing back by for another visit, I will happily show up again.
Next time, I’m coming really early….
[Cross-posted at Koch’s Tour]