Thursday, February 10, 2011

My Meeting With Michelle

The White House wanted to help the little people.
That includes reporters like me in bureaus working for local news stations.
So they offered to let us interview the First Lady on her "Lets Move" one year anniversary. How fitting that I was actually running on the treadmill when the press person called, "Would you be interested in interviewing the First Lady?" Sure.
So the interview was confirmed. I told Abegail I was going to get to interview Michelle Obama. She said, "You're going to tell her about us aren't you?"
"I may," I said as we reflected on the time I went through the McDonald's drive through and told the man at the window about the loud kids in the back since he happened to be from Ghana.
My coworker, who is a man, asked me, "what are you going to wear?" as he looked down at my boots that had been through 4 of the 8 springs I spent in Minnesota - full of mud and left over salt. OK, note to self, wear real shoes.
Two days before, Scott asked, "Are you nervous?" I didn't answer...too busy thinking about how I was going to get E-Man to finish his valentine's box for school. And he chimes in, "I would be." I thought for a second, well she probably won't walk in on me brushing my teeth so how bad could it be?
But this morning I was nervous and concerned about what to wear.
I did successfully dress myself and get to the White House - which I was also nervous about. I can just see a huge garbage truck rolling over and ruining my chance to meet the First Lady.
There were three of us reporters, (one from Hearst, one from Cox, and me from little old Belo), and each would each have 10 minutes with the First Lady.
I went last.
While the other reporters interviewed her I noticed a man hovering at the door definitely not dressed as a secret service person.
"What do you do here?" I asked.
"I'm the electrician."
"The White House electrician?"
"Yes," he said. "There are seven of us."
"Where do you park when you work at the White House?" I asked.
"See all those spaces down there?" he said pointing out past the South Lawn.
"They are all for employees of the White House, and we don't have to pay for parking either."
"Good gig," I said. "How do you get to be a White House electrician?"
"It took me a year. I knew someone. They don't post adds in the Post for White House jobs."
"I imagine not."
"See that room over there?" I said pointing to a red room, well lit and showcasing china.
"Yea, that's the China room."
"Can I go look in there?"
"Sure, c'mon I'll show you."
"Here is all the china from every president. See there's Clinton...and Bush...and I know Kennedy's is around here somewhere."
"We better go back, the press person will be out and I don't want to get in trouble."
"Well, over here is Lincoln's china."
"Lincoln had china? Oh, it's purple."
"Yea, and look at this, they found this in the 40's during a renovation, this is what they used to light candles at the White House before electricity."
"Wow, OK, lets go back now."
"Look at this, see how the wiring is outside the chandelier? That's how you can tell it used to be a candle chandelier that was later converted to an electric one."
"Wow, fascinating," I said, knowing I had really gotten a scoop that only an electrician could give.
Finally my turn to see Mrs. Michelle Obama.
All I'm thinking as I walk in is, "don't trip, don't trip, don't trip."
I got to my seat. I didn't trip.
"Hi! It's nice to meet you," I said.
"Thanks so much for doing this," the First Lady said.
(Thinking to myself, yea it was a real effort, I had lunch plans with the Pope I had to cancel)
They were setting up the shot.
"We moved from Minnesota and my daughter asked if she would go to school with Sasha and Malia."
"Where are you living?" asked Mrs. Obama.
"Fairfax County."
"Oh, Fairfax County, they always cancel school."
I rolled my eyes, I couldn't help it. I forgot to be nervous.
Mrs. Obama burst out laughing, "Apparently I have just struck a cord with a Fairfax County parent!"
"Well you know if the wind blows wrong they cancel school."
"Yes, and coming from Minnesota..."
The interview went on, I asked 5 questions. She was easy to interview.
The interview was over and I had to. I had to.
"Two of my children are from Liberia. I read your husband's book and it really helped me know how to raise a black son."
"Well the key really is having a good support system and surrounding yourself with all different types of people and diversity," said the First Lady.
"Yes and this is a great city to do it in," I said with the picture of two very special soccer coaches in my mind.
And with that she was gone and suddenly talking about all that "moving" had me very hungry.
Afterwards I chatted with her press secretary, turns out Sasha and Malia play soccer and the First Lady, yea she's a soccer mom!
Quotes from Annie:

Annie had to write down three things that would keep her healthy for homework. Her first one was quite amusing but definitely true:
"Wash your hands after you stick your finger in your nose."