I have been an admirer of Sarah Palin’s since last year when she gave John McCain’s campaign the only real boost it really had. Like most people, I had no idea who she was when he announced her as a VP candidate but the more I read, the more I liked. Conservatively, she shares many principles that I do; I was intrigued by her popularity in Alaska and how well she had done as both Mayor and Governor. Lastly, her family life was familiar to me. I have a sister who juggles a career that is more of a calling to her than a job and she does this while trying to raise three children, one of whom has Down’s Syndrome.
It probably comes as no surprise then, that when I found out she would be traveling to the town I live in for a signing of her book Going Rogue, I wanted to go meet her. However, there was one small thing that was hindering me in this regard. I live in South Dakota, I was going to have to stand in line overnight to get access to the signing and it was going to be cold.
I don’t do well when it comes to the cold, which is probably a surprise since I live in a state that is cold a lot! But I didn’t relish the idea of standing in line overnight so I had decided to pass on the event. That was until I made a passing reference to a friend of mine – in jest – about going and he seemed keen on the idea. Now I apparently was committed!
We had decided we might go down to Sioux City, IA instead which isn’t far from us and was a place where Governor Palin was going to be first on that day. I was resting up the afternoon before when I got a call from my friend. He was feeling under the weather and didn’t want to risk getting worse by being in the cold all night. I was apparently not committed anymore…
Or was I? Now that I had the idea in my brain, I couldn’t get it out. I wanted to go, but I didn’t want to. I was sure I could not handle 9-10 hours overnight in temperatures getting very close to zero, but a part of me wondered about missing out on something I wouldn’t be able to do again.
The part of me that likes sleep and warmth more than adventure won out and I went to bed. But I set my alarm for 5 AM because I wanted to see if it would be possible to still get up there and get a wristband for the signing.
When 5 AM rolled around, I checked Twitter and found out from a local contact that there was roughly around 100 people there but the line was growing. “Certainly I can handle a couple hours in the cold!” I thought to myself as I quickly threw on a pair of jeans and a sweatshirt and began to bundle up.
Fifteen minutes later, I was on my way and by 5:30 AM I was in the Barnes & Noble parking lot. There were probably about 200 or so people there by now and I walked to the end of the line. I was pretty bundled up, so was secretly amused when a young girl I know – who had been there all night – came over to me and handed me a blanket.
“What are you going to use?” I asked this young lady. “I’ve got 4 more!” was her enthusiastic reply. I took the blanket more to make her happy then anything. She smiled, snapped a quick shot of me, looking ridiculous wrapped in a blanket with cute little bears on it, muttered something about Facebook and before I could get clarification she was running back to her spot in line.
It didn’t take long before I thanked God that she had brought this blanket too me. I’ve been in the cold before but there seems to be something different about just standing in the cold. Within 30 minutes, I was fairly sure I was going to die. I had visions of Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi walking past my frozen body with mockingly scornful looks on their faces.
During this time, I began to talk with some of the people nearby me. I’m not an overly chatty person, but it was interesting how in a situation like that how you tend to bond with people that are going through it with you. I met a man who is a financial advisor that talked a little politics with me and indicated that he hoped Sarah Palin realized that for all of us doing this, she better by goodness become President someday. Another lady was a gym teacher. Then there was a lady who had met Sarah Palin during the campaign and had talked her husband into bringing her out here for this. He stayed in the car, but periodically he would come and trade places with her so she could warm up.
Finally, we got the word that they were handing out the wristbands and the line started moving. Amazingly, that’s when I seemed to suffer the worst, not sure if it was from anticipation of it finally being over or not. But within another hour I reached the front of the line, a wristband was placed on my wrist and I was told I was in group C and had to be back that night at 4 pm. But they also told me to dress warm as we’d be waiting outside.
THAT I hadn’t anticipated. I didn’t realize they were going to make us stand outside again! I stumbled toward my car, turned up the heat and headed home. When I got home, I spent the remainder of the day thawing out and resting up for doing it all over again.
I gave my parents a call and told them I would be able to get in to see Sarah Palin tonight and my mom was both excited and jealous. She’s also a very big Palin fan, maybe even more than I am, so I told her I’d get a book for her and get it signed as well. At that moment, I believe I elevated into “super-Son” status, a rare achievement that only 4.62% of the male population accomplishes in their lifetime.
Finally, after a few hours of hot chocolate and time under several warm blankets I was ready to go once again. I grabbed the largest cup of hot chocolate they had at Barnes & Noble and walked over to where the line that was forming for my group.
Fortunately the weather wasn’t too bad and we didn’t actually have to stay out there for too long. The staff closed the store early and within an hour had brought in groups A-C and we lined up within the different book aisles. I sat down in the midst of several books on cooking and wines and relaxed.
Interestingly enough, I met some people with intriguing stories as well. One woman sitting beside me knew a young neighbor girl with the same name as the Governor but it was spelled Palen. Another younger lady was documenting this whole day or so for her husband who was in California. He is also a big admirer of Sarah Palin and she was giving him this book and her “documentary” as a Christmas gift.
In addition to those individuals, right before we had come inside I had an opportunity to meet a young woman I had spoken with only via Twitter before. She is a news reporter for a local online newspaper whose focus is primarily for young adults. She had spent the entire night out here, not as a Palin fan, or a detractor, but because her journalistic instincts compelled her to. She wrote a news article about it, that I think puts most national media and their journalism insights to shame. (http://tinyurl.com/PalinInSF).
After about an hour there was a large commotion towards one end of Barnes & Noble and word traveled that Sarah Palin was here. That was surprising because she was an hour early and I had heard she’d been two hours late in Sioux City! But it was a pleasant surprise, and within short order we were moving our way towards her to get our book signed.
As we moved steadily along, I suddenly found myself face to face with a very friendly older lady who shook my hand introducing herself as Sarah’s aunt. She thanked each and every person in line for coming to this signing. I smiled at this as she came across so friendly and pleasant.
I also could see Todd Palin and their young son milling about the place. Todd was talking with people, but his main focus was on that little baby of theirs who wasn’t so little anymore and seemed to move all over Todd’s arms as if he wanted to get down and have free run of the place. Memories surged in my mind of my own little nephew who shared something in common with this little tyke.
Finally, it came time to meet Sarah. When I got to her, she grabbed my hand and asked me my name. I told her and then told her how jealous my mother was of me right now as she would have loved to be here. With that well-known way she has of speaking, she said, “Well, tell her I said hi, will ya?”
With that, my book had been signed and I was on my way. Or so I thought. A familiar older man stood nearby, shaking hands. It turned out to be Sarah’s Dad and beside him was her Mom also shaking hands. Her Dad seemed quite taken with a fleece overcoat I was wearing – as it is very red, very white and very blue and very US Marine Corps. I told him my wife made it and he asked me if I was a vet. When I told him yes, he handed me a button with a picture of Sarah and a website for veterans who support her.
Finally, I was on my way for real. Looking back at the day overall, I came to the conclusion that while meeting Sarah Palin was nice-however short-and getting the book signed was great, it wasn’t really about meeting Sarah Palin. My day was a positive one because I was able to meet some fascinating people who were meeting Sarah Palin. And I met her family, who are obviously very close and care for each other dearly. The inspiration she brings to people is real and contagious and I was glad to be a part of it.
NOTE: This was originally published by myself on my old HubPages account on 12/08/2009.