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Me and Al

In 1996, I went to my first (and last?) Chicago Auto Show with a friend of mine and his family. We got there close to when it opened and stood waiting. The opening time came and went and nothing happened. The doors remained shut. We learned that the opening was delayed by Al Gore, who was touring the auto show with something like a German ambassador. Al Gore was planning to speak and he and the German were taking forever getting a private tour of the auto show.

We waited and waited. Al Gore and the German took their sweet time inside the auto show. Everyone was getting restless and angry. My feet were already hurting and we hadn’t even walked anywhere. The show’s opening passed by at least an hour. Hundreds of people were left standing borred in the lobby while just two people looked at cars.

Finally (I don’t even know how late this was because it was almost 20 years ago, but it was significantly late.), Al Gore came to the stage to talk.

And he got booed off, even by my friend’s dad, who was an FBI agent! I missed my only chance to hear Gore speak, but at the time I was glad because I was 17 and SO BORED from waiting that a political speech would have sent me into a coma. The Auto Show was surprisingly entertaining after that, but perhaps my entertainment level was enhanced by the extreme boredom that proceeded it?

And thus began my inexplicable link with Al Gore. Every time I traveled in the late 1990s and early 2000s, Al Gore followed me. Whenever I got to a nice hotel, I learned that Al Gore had been there the day before or would be there the day after. If I was at an airport, Al Gore was also somewhere in that airport. If I went to a major event, Al Gore had just been there. We kept missing each other. It was like we were trying to meet, but we just couldn’t make it work. It seemed like I was stalking Al Gore, but I’d never find out that he was there until AFTER I actually got there. I joked that maybe the FBI had opened a file on me because of my constant Al Gore coincidences.

It ended as suddenly as it began. I blame George W. Bush. It was all his fault.

In April 2004 I was on a Southwest flight that had made a stop in St. Louis in route back to Indianapolis from San Jose. I was one of the passengers who had to remain seated while they boarded the people who planned to fly from St. Louis to Indianapolis (Why would you do that? It would be faster to drive!). I ended up getting stuck on that plane an extra two hours thanks to heightened security at the airport because George W. Bush was there. I could see Air Force One right out my window.

We waited and waited and when Air Force One FINALLY left our part of the airport, we cheered, not because it was cool to see Air Force One, but because it meant we could FINALLY leave. We were virtually being held hostage by the president’s presence!

After that, I never found myself in the same place as Al Gore again. I feared that maybe I’d switched to accidentally following Bush, but that hasn’t happened either.

Now that I live in Ohio, though, it’s like ALL the presidential and vice presidential candidates are stalking me. They are never not within 30 minutes from my town during campaign season. At first it was neat to live in a town with constant presidential interruptions, but now I kind of miss the days when I was accidentally shadowing Al Gore.

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