On Monday, Oct. 24, President Obama landed at LAX around 4:30p.m. to attend a dinner party in Hancock Park. While we all know by now that the President causes insane traffic jamswhen he’s in town, this past visit seemed a little more congested than usual. It was more than just the busy streets being shut down; it was my street. President Obama was at a fundraiser dinner directly across the street from my house.While I may not exactly be a pro at having our equivalent of royalty around me, I’ve had a few similar experiences. A year ago, First Lady Michelle Obama dined in the same house, and I stood out on my front lawn, basically stalking her. Over the summer, the Royals were in town, also about a block away. When they were here, I watched my neighbors stand outside waving British flags around. So I guess you could say I’m a pro? Not really. This was completely unlike the others; this was an even bigger production.
I had to park a few blocks away from my house after school, after circling around the Hancock Park area for a long time trying to find a way in. As a resident, I was allowed to enter my street…well, I was supposed to be allowed to get in. I was calling a Secret Service agent on my phone while talking to an LAPD officer, who were giving me completely different instructions. The Secret Service agent was saying I should have no problem getting into my house while the LAPD officer was telling me that it would be impossible to get home because all the roads were blocked off.
After finally showing off my driver’s license to prove where I lived, I was escorted to my home and was watched until I opened the front door with my own key (just to make sure, you know).
I ran to get my camera and headed on down to the bustling sidewalk, where I got the chance to talk to various Secret Service agents and officers. Everyone was still in their perfect motorcade positions, waiting for the okay to relax. I embraced the fact that I was a student, still in my uniform, tapped into my previous experience with events like these and walked on over to chat for a bit.
I learned that the somewhat ridiculous bow ties the LAPD wear are just for the motorcycle cops, so ties don’t blow around in their faces as they cruise. One officer opened up every compartment of her motorcycle, showing me where she keeps her flashlight, handcuffs, sunflower seeds and hairspray.
The Secret Service agents were pretty relaxed, since the President was safe and sound at his dinner. A few of them hung around on the street, where my neighbors and I all stood around with our cameras like tourists. As long as we didn’t run frantically across the street towards the house, they were cool.
I knew when the President was about to make his move to another Hancock Park house for his next function because all of a sudden my quiet little street started bustling again. Cars that I thought were parked and unoccupied seemed to start up on their own, and everything—and everyone—moved out of the way.
The Secret Service agents practically stood on my lawn facing my house, watching the rest of the team moving cars around. And just like that, the motorcade pulled out of the driveway and started to turn right. Just as it did, I caught a brief glimpse of our President in the car as it drove off. It was just for a split second, and yet, it made my week. I saw the President of the United States. I was forever content.
I went out after that to run a few errands, and when I got back the event across the street had turned into a party, without the stress of the President being there. While I could no longer see the flashes of all the photos guest were taking with the President, I could hear music and feel the fun time everyone was having. There was still security patrolling around, and a few Secret Service agents lingered too. But other than their subtle presence, it was almost as if the President hadn’t been across the street, just an hour earlier…