This afternoon President Obama swooped down on Tampa, shutting down roads and sending much of the city into a frenzy. He was scheduled to speak at the University of Tampa, thrilling most if its students. Not only was the leader of the free world at their school, classes were cancelled. I’m quite sure I heard a resounding “woop!” echo throughout downtown.
I spent the day running errands with my mother. We had just left Sam’s Club when a policeman kindly informed us that we were going absolutely nowhere because President Obama might show up sometime soon. So we snagged a parking spot near the road and hunkered down. We soon saw police cars zooming by at an unnecessarily swift pace, flashing their lights, blaring their sirens, and looking like this was the coolest thing they had ever gotten to do. This, of course, is silly, because, much like the rest of the drivers in Tampa, policemen in the Bay Area have a complete disregard for speed limits, stop signs, and traffic lights. Unless of course they catch you doing something wrong. But I digress.
Those of us trapped in the parking lot of the Sam’s Club and Home Depot took to the sidewalks with cameras. Men, women, children, and even one sheepdog patiently waited for the president to drive by after landing at MacDill Air Force Base. Some were slightly annoyed that they couldn’t get out of the lot and back to work. Others couldn’t wait to see the limo. One man made the best of the situation and put his sedan through the carwash across the street while waiting.
Brenda Thomas, a 50 year-old school bus driver and clerk at the Home Depot, was amazed at the power one man had over a city.
“It’s amazing how they can just shut everything down,” Thomas said.
Thomas had never seen a president before, and couldn’t wait to catch a glimpse of the president rolling down South Dale Mabry Highway, though she was concerned because her lunch break was swiftly dwindling.
But Thomas and the other bystanders were not disappointed: soon a motorcade consisting of 38 motorcycles, vans carrying reporters, a bomb squad, three limousines, and a plethora of police cars drove by. Unfortunately, it was impossible to tell which limo the president was riding in, which many agreed was the safest thing to do, yet disappointing to all those who lined the streets to greet him. One woman joked that had the policemen tossed Gasparilla beads to the crowd, President Obama would officially be the coolest president ever.