Thursday, January 22, 2009

Mall Moments

Slate has a great first-person story about a man who volunteered to work on the Mall on Inauguration Day.

"In preparatory e-mails leading up to the big day, I was told that my service would entail safety, information, surveillance, and watching for "unruly guests." Until I spotted the plethora of National Guardsmen, police, Secret Service, and Eagle Scouts, I thought this might have involved brandishing a taser. Alas, the guys in full uniform handled the more exciting jobs. My wife and I, sporting red knit caps with 'volunteer' stitched across the forehead, greeted people and fielded questions. ('Sir, this is the Mall' and 'Ma'am, the Porta-Potties are over there' were my two most popular replies."

Writer Nicholas Schmidle talks about the cold, the crowd, the heckling of former president George W. Bush and veep Dick Cheney, and "little hotties" hand warmers, but it was really about a call to service. He concludes:

"I guess that's what service is supposed to be all about: never expecting anything in return. Of course, when you think about it, the reward—and the inspiration—is now sitting in the White House. So maybe that's why it was so easy to volunteer. In Obama's America, I hope to start doing it a whole lot more."

BONUS: Slate also ran a story by Seth Stevenson about how many inaugural balls one man, wearing a tuxedo and running shoes, can attend. Or endure. On a Segway.

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