In The Motorcade

I’m at my computer, doing nothing. Don’t you just get bored on that thing?  I run out of things to look at after 3 1/2 minutes. 

My phone rings, I look, it’s my buddy Casey. Huh. I haven’t heard from that guy in awhile. About a year ago, he comes into the bar, says to me, I hear you play chess. I say, I do…well…not that good. Just learning. He says, we should play sometime. I say, how about Monday?  He says, let’s do it. 

We get together, then before I make the first move, I say, so…how long have you been playing?  He says, since high school. I was the Wisconsin Chess Champion two years straight. 


The game lasted exactly 2 minutes 30 seconds. 

I did not win. 

I pick up the phone. Casey!  What’s up?  He says, I’m working on the Hillary campaign, she’s going to be in Ankeny in two days, and I was wondering if you’d like to be in her motorcade. 

Uhhhhh. What?

I get to the hotel we’re all meeting at. There’s two girls there, and a bigger guy, who introduces himself as Aaron. He tells me what’s what. The girls each jump in their own van, I get in mine, and Aaron joins me. 

He says, we’re headed for the Ankeny Airport. I’ll give you directions. 

The two vans in the back follow, but for some reason, they don’t go into the airport like I do. 

Aaron gets out, says, wait here. 

I wait. 

There’s about ten Secret Service guys milling about in dark suits and sunglasses. You’ve seen it before. About four cops. The main Secret Service guy comes up, says, open the door, please. I say, you bet!  I open the door. He says, we were having trouble locating your driver’s license when we were doing your background check. Can I see it?  I say, sure. I get out my wallet, grab my ID, start to pull it out, then he says, no. I’ll look at it later. I say, confused, are you sure?  He says, I’ll look at it later. I say, ok. 

He never ended up looking at my ID. Must’ve been some secret Secret Service test they pull on potential motorcade drivers for might-be Presidents. 

He says, you can get out of the van. 

I get out, and stand there. This is quite strange. What a bizarre and completely random place to be at 8am in the morning. 

They get the sniffing dog that sniffs out the bomb smell, and escort him around the van. Then they have two guys go through the van inside, outside, underneath. I say, excuse me. I have a backpack in there with a couple books inside. You’re welcome to check it. 

After the bomb search, I get back in the van. The head guy says, drive into the airport there. Follow the black van. I say, ok. I start the van, put it in drive, follow the black van, park it. Guy comes back up. He says, your job is to follow behind that black van. That’s all you have to do. I say, got it. 

We sit there for two hours. I read, I close my eyes briefly. 


This white jet lands, cruises down the runway, stops. The vans next to me dart into action. I FOLLOW THE BLACK VAN. I park, ten people file out of the plane. There’s Hillary, she gets in the second van. About five people jump in my van, the vans start moving, I follow. We are going fast, flying through red lights. It’s exhilarating. It’s exciting. It’s terrifying. I’m scared as hell. 

We stop, everybody gets out, two girls stay in the van with me. Her hair and make-up. They’re cool. After five minutes, everybody climbs back in, we speed away, five minutes later, we’re at the next stop. Everybody jumps out, Aaron comes up to the van, says, you want to meet Hillary, come with me. 

Sure, why not. 

I jump out, go in, it’s like the agriculture school, I get in line with ten others, it gets to me, I shake her hand, say, it’s an absolute honor to meet you. 

I pour it on a little thick. 

I turn, the camera woman points the camera, and I gently put my hand on Hillary’s back.

The picture is taken, I cruise, Aaron says, you want to watch her speak?  I say, sure, why not. I watch Governor Villsack give an introduction that goes on and on and on and on, then finally Hillary gets behind the podium, says the things she needs to say, I leave after five minutes. 

I wish Bill was here. I LOVE Bill. 

I go back to the van, wait, Aaron comes out, says, I’m sorry I know I told you you’d be done at 2:30, but we’re running late. I say, that’s cool. Then he says, do you think you could do me a favor, gas up the van on the way back, I’ll give you my credit card, return the van to the rental place, then take a shuttle back to the hotel? 

Damn dude. 

I say, sure. I’ll do it. 

Half hour later, everybody climbs back in, they’re all talking, I’m being quiet as a mouse. Actually, during the whole trip, I’ve said, does anyone need any water?  And that’s it, besides talking to the hair and make-up girl. I’m keeping it professional. 

We get back to the jet, everybody climbs out, before they leave, they all say thank you, and good-bye. 

The only annoying thing about the day was not being able to find the opening where you put the gas in the van. I SEARCHED ALL OVER FOR IT. I COMBED the sides, I looked behind the license plate, I looked UNDER THE VAN. I spent five minutes trying to find it, thinking, oh great this is embarrassing, I take it back to the rental place, say, WHERE THE HELL IS THE GAS CAP?!?!?

It’s IN the driver’s side door. You literally have to open the door, then there’s this flap that is flush with the side there, it’s impossible to see!!!

But other than that, one of the best days of my life. 

-Clint Curtis


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