On Thursday August 16th I was at the Cottonwood County Fair talking to voters. My cell phone rang and the voice on the other end told me that she had a great opportunity for me the following week and that she could not give me details. Then she asked if I would like to meet someone “high up” in the Obama administration. Of course, I said yes. I was asked for some pertinent identification details for a security check, sworn to secrecy and told I would be given more information later.
I fretted about what I would wear, what I might say, and who I would tell when I could.
On Monday, I was given clearance to meet Vice President Joe Biden in Rochester and was told that I could tell —my husband, and my daughter in Rochester. Later that day I received a set of instructions on how to proceed on Tuesday, and then again on Tuesday morning there were more details on what I needed to do and when.
Tuesday morning I was anxious—I mean it is not every day you get to meet the Vice President of the United States! I don’t have that many clothes to choose from so I found a dress that I thought would be appropriate, sensible shoes, and understated jewelry. I took off for Rochester (earlier than necessary so as not to be late, after all I had to be “through security and in the building by 3 PM”) and had an easy and familiar drive along I-90.
I arrived in time to have a quick lunch, find the appropriate place to line up before the gates to the parking lot opened, and cleaned out my purse. You don’t want to lose a nail file to security! Then the real waiting began.
I entered the gated area, found the VIP (I have never been a VIP before) parking area, parked and walked to the Will Call table for my wrist band admission. Happy to have my name on the list correctly spelled and alpha ordered, I proceeded through the check point to the waiting area. People kept streaming in both to the handicapped area and the line for the general admission standing area. We stood outside (thankfully it was not raining and was not steamy hot) milling around, talking to people, looking for anyone else we might know. I was excited to see others from the Worthington area. Finally we were able to go through security and off to another “holding area” inside a building out of the sun and with a pleasant breeze and bottles of water.
A while later, we were told that the Vice President was “wheels up” in Minneapolis and that it would not be long now. We were placed in an alphabetically ordered line to meet the VP and were asked to stay in that configuration till we were presented to Mr. Biden. Congressman Tim Walz and Senator Al Franken arrived and made their way along our line greeting and conversing with us. Soon we heard the thump of the limo bringing Vice President Biden into the building and a short time later, amid applause, he came into our area. He is a striking, good-looking man, much more handsome than he appears on television. He made some comments and then his handlers got to the business of presenting each of us to the Vice President for a “photo op”. Each person was greeted individually and the Vice President made each of us feel special. He had an individual comment for each of us (I will treasure mine), shook our hands and the photo was taken and we were off to the next location. It was only a few seconds; but, it was special.
From there we were ushered to the Floral Building where the crowd was waiting. Once ushered to our places on the balcony, we were greeted by the Mayor of Rochester, followed by Congressman Walz, and Senator Franken. Then we were treated to remarks by Bill Keitel as he introduced Vice President Biden. What an honor for Bill, his wife Lori and god-daughter Sigin. Those of us from Worthington were so proud that one of our own was chosen for this honor. Bill did a great job! The Vice President came on stage and spoke to us for over a half hour. It was a great event, followed by thunderous applause. I can’t wait to see my photo and savor those few seconds of being a VIP.