My poor friend Qursum. Friday should have been a fun evening out with friends for her birthday. Instead, it was filled with confusion and delayed guests not being able to get to Granville Moores, the birthday restaurant on H Street. The reason? President Obama was in the neighbourhood, having dinner at Smith & Commons, another restaurant on the same block. Police and Secret Service were stationed all around, preventing access to the entire twelfth block.
“They might let you through, as long as you’re good with the police giving you a pat down,” one bystander told me when I first joined the crowds of people milling around the block. Eh. No thanks. I tried to see if there was some other way to get through, but had no luck, as they had shut the entire twelfth block down.
By the time I got round to reconsidering the pat down, they’d decided they weren’t even doing that anymore. Great. Looked like I’d simply have to turn around and head home. Obama has to go out to dinner sometime, doesn’t he? It’s good publicity for him to appear around town like a regular person. Indeed, lots of bystanders were simply folks who got wind of the president’s presence on H Street and were hoping to catch a glimpse. Even the Secret Service personnel had their fans – a few people walked up to them and wanted to shake hands. (Or maybe just trying to score some points and be allowed to pass through.)
Others weren’t taking this blockade as well. “My husband just went through literally ten minutes ago!” cried one blonde-haired woman to the nearest officer. From the look on her face, clearly she wasn’t used to not getting her way. I half-expected her to demand for his supervisor when he flatly barred her from entering the block.
As for Qursum’s birthday dinner? It just wasn’t meant to be. Half of us, including Qursum herself, were unable to make it into the restaurant. After the other half joined us on the street, we traipsed over to Rita’s Italian Ice. The few people who did make it to the restaurant shared burger dinners that they took with them in styrofoam carryout containers. It wasn’t the birthday girl’s idea of a celebration, but between mouthfuls of fries and mango flavoured ice, I think we had ourselves a decent time. And we had a great view of the motorcade when it drove by later on that evening.
Understandably, Qursum refused to wave. 🙂