1 May 2010
Not A Morning Person does so not begin to describe me. Yet, last night I went to bed about 20:30 for the purpose of getting up at 4am today. Staggered out of bed, went through a 24 hour McDonalds drive-through, and out to the mall for 5 am. From there, I tried to check in (but they didn't have my packet of "credentials") so I grabbed a t-shirt and hopped on a bus to go to the stadium -- where I was told that the would have them at gate 10. Of course nobody at gate 10 (which was primarily a different volunteer organization) know anything about me, so I started wandering semi-aimlessly
Miraculously, I felt my phone vibrate, and it was the woman who was handling the volunteers -- and she had my packet. Suddenly I felt a lot better. She also gave me a radio and showed me how to use it. She set it for "PARK" and showed me how to change that channel.
Eventually the 3 other people who were volunteered at the same place as I was (the secure-area handicap parking) showed up, and the coordinator was there at the same time, and the secret service woman (?) let us into the area. I think that was about 6am. She warned us that the weather was going to get BAAAAAAAD. Yes, I _had_ known that there was a several tens percentage chance of thunderstorms, but when I got to the mall it was over 60 degrees and it wasn't even thinking very hard about rain, so I left both my jacket and my 30-year-old army surplus rain poncho in my car. The right thing to do, since I really needed to be showing off my nice new yellow volunteer shirt, but I really did need _a_ rain poncho. Found a volunteer tent that actually had a few and I grabbed one. Had a few minutes to get back to the secure area, and then the sky opened. The bus stop was pretty full of people, and some of them were smoking, so I went off to stand under the overhang at a nearby building. 15 minutes or so later I went back and snuck into the bus stop to meet with my team. One of the other police officials that was in the bus stop was the kind that was being kept in a cage and had a 2-legged handler. (After the cars had passed 2 security points, and was swept by officials there, the two of them went around, one of them sniffing the tires.) At about 6:30, it started raining only "kinda hard" as opposed to "brutally hard" and our first customer appeared, so we wandered out and started directing people where to park.
At 8:34 we saw a motorcade go by -- a few motorcycles, 3 or 4 limos, and an armored vehicle.
I tried a few times to call other people on the PARK channel to summon a golf cart, and as far as I could tell (although there were supposed to be 4 of us with radios) I was the only one on that channel, so I eventually (apologetically) flipped over to what seemed to be the uber-coordination channel. I'd occasionally
listen in on that, because there was all sorts of cool gossip. (Who had moved the seats so that they needed to cut the ropes to put in more handicap seating... what stage had lost power...) At 9-something I heard a blip there about Air Force One being on the ground.
At 10:00, it had been about half an hour since our last customer, and the police men who were wandering around and had been chatting at us told us a few things. For one, he'd landed at Metro, rather than Willow Run. For another, he was going to be coming in on a helicopter rather than the highway. And they said he'd be showing up in about 10 minutes. O-Kay. We wandered down to that end of the parking lot. We were released at 10:15 and we wandered a bit further in the direction the guys had indicated. We watched about 6 helicopters land, and then the motorcycles and black vehicles arrived, followed by many white vehicles. (Press corps?) Unfortunately for us, they turned off into Crisler, so we couldn't even see him exit the car.
Time to get inside. The festivities should start at 11. We'd been told that there would be seats set aside for all the volunteers. (In each section there was "General Admission".) By the time we made it around to gate 10 it had been closed. Down to gate 9, and we went to use our $6 concession vouchers. Of course, the usual stadium fare was supplanted by a cut-down menu. I thought bagel & cream cheese @ $2 and a mug of hot chocolate for $4 made sense. Except they had no food. And they had no mugs. So I used my voucher for a $2 cup of cocoa. Ah well. And a very short while after I was served, it was announced that they were closed.
We got to our section and were told "good luck" as far as finding seats went. Rather than trying "another section" I hovered behind the back seats of the lower section. Still pretty nosebleed, but they had big screens that were visible, one of which had captioning.
There were many folks who got honorary degrees from UM at this ceremony, 4 of whom I'd heard of: Barack Obama, Ornette Coleman, Stanford Ovshinsky, and Susan Stamberg.
By 12:30 the actual graduation had begun, LSA had been honored, and I decided to head out. I found a shuttle bus back to the mall, and aimed at the hotel. Before 2pm I'd made the hotel.