Last night I saw President Obama. I was rushing south on Park Avenue to make a 10:05 train at Grand Central Terminal when I had to stop at barricades on 68th Street manned by police officers. Soon the president’s procession went by. A whole bunch of cop cars, followed by motorcycles, then a number of VIPs’ cars including a long black car with flags on the hood that I’m guessing the president was in, then more black cars for VIPS, then motorcycles and cop cars and a couple of ambulances. The motorcade lasted over a minute before the last of the centurions passed blipping their sirens. I asked an officer if I could now go through, I had to get a train. “You have to wait five minutes.” I remembered being stopped by officers at the side of the road in Thailand and Tonga as their respective kings’ processions went by and thought, this is much worse.
I missed my train and had to wait an hour and cursed the proceedings for having detained me.
But when I got home at 1 in the morning, my feelings turned. I had cut my hand breaking kindling the other night and then got blood on my shirt sleeve last night, and I put cold water on the shirt and hung it and thought, I bet Obama can’t do this. Someone is standing there to take his shirt, and attending his every scratch, and breaking his kindling. The man has no personal autonomy. He can’t rush down Park Avenue counting off the blocks and the time, he can’t take a ride in Manhattan without shutting everyone else down and being surrounded by officious police officers and god knows how many suckups. Whereas I can walk anywhere I please, mostly.