Saturday morning, was scheduled to report to the Willard InterContinental Hotel at 9am for preparation and setup. I live maybe three miles from the Willard, but got in my taxicab at 8:30am in the hopes of scoring a few points for showing up early. My Ever-trusty Blue Top driver informed me that for some reason, the 14th and Memorial Bridges were closed, but he had devised a plan to get around them using 12th Street. Unfortunately, everybody else came up with the same idea. My confidence in the guy grew and grew as he pulled out shortcut aces that included a particularly spectacular dip through the L'enfant parking garage. At 8:52, we came upon the intersection of 7th and Independence. Much to my dismay, and to the folly of any plan to arrive to work early, the reason for the road and bridge closures went cruising before us. A bike race. A fucking bike race. They told us on Friday that the metro would be running only once every half-hour on Saturday morning, but they failed to report the closings of Independence Avenue and two of our major bridges or anything about the bike race.
I sat and fumed in the cab, cursing and clenching my fists. I could get out of the cab, walk across Independence, and pick up a new cab on the other side, but I knew that every time I've tried to best the transportation system, the transportation system bests me, so the second I got out of the car would be the one they opened the road back up. I vowed at 9:17 that if the cab hadn't moved by 9:20 that I was going ahead with my plan. Sure enough, I handed the cabbie a $20 at 9:20, didn't stick around for the receipt and was on my way. The cabbie warned me it was too far to walk. Fortunately, I was so filled with rage that I didn't notice the distance and made it the 15 or so blocks in a quick 15 or so minutes. I also didn't notice the hole my shoes had carved in my right heel until I sat down later that morning.
Late and embarrassed, most everything I was scheduled to do was done by the time I arrived, so I took my instructions and tried to do everything asked of me to a T. Once the seminars were underway, I was able to take some time to catch up on some background envelope stuffing.
In a small red-velvet stairwell near our meeting room, I watched curiously as a lighting and film crew argued with one another about how the mirror was going to "give her reflections" and bicker about shadowing. A while later, two young guys, one with one of those secret service ear cords in began wandering around. One kept making laps around the meeting space, and after a few passing smiles and hellos, I cracked, "scoping the perimeter, eh?" He gave me a wide-eyed "uhm, heh" and stopped smiling during his rounds.
I stuffed on, curious but not enough to stand up, wondering what was going on in there. Not long after, the two guards came rushing through ushering a man wearing bicycle shorts and a bright yellow and blue racing shirt. Bike rider with two armed gaurds? That's gotta be Lance Armstrong.
I remembered the cursed race that made me late and realized it was probably good that I didn't get introduced to him since I'd probably have regretting chickening out of the piece or two of my mind I had vividly played out giving him.
When my duties were fulfilled for the day, I invited Mickey to come meet me for dinner and stay in the swank hotel with me for the night. We walked around downtown a bit, got a great dinner at a German-deco brewry restaurant, picked up a magnum of Sangeovese* at the Press Club liquor store and curled up in the ultra-cushy Willard bed for an early night in preparation for my 6:30 reporting time the following morning.
Flipping through the channels, we came across a Lance Armstrong interview on CNN. Sure, interviews like this are a dime a dozen, but it was the same red-velvet background. I said to Mick, if they pan left and show a round-faced blonde sitting next to him, that's the interview I saw this morning in this very hotel. Sure as shit, it was. Wild.
*Spell Check suggested "Hangover" for "Sangeovese".