Motorcade Window Shopping

President Obama was in San Francisco the last two days. If I hadn't seen the media reports, I would have known from the slight detour on my walk to and from work. Tourists complained that his visit shut down cable car lines. Locals complained of traffic nightmares (I did hear a lot more horns than usual). Birds complained of flight restrictions.

Yesterday, I got to experience the presidential motorcade in all its glory just one block from my house. The police presence is one thing; the number of security, staff, and media vehicles take the spectacle to another level. It's pretty stunning. If you've ever been at a small train station as a high-speed train whizzes through, it's kind of like that.

I stopped at the corner to see if I could catch a glimpse of the President, and I did. As his urban assault vehicle masquerading as a SUV flung around the corner, he smiled and waved at me, or was it one of the 50 other people up the block? It made me wonder how many times he'd waved to random crowds through a window. It must have been dozens yesterday alone. 

That can't be easy. Notwithstanding the many perks of being President–like breezing through the San Francisco streets during Friday rush hour–it must be a challenge not to lose touch with the world on the other side of those windows. One the one hand, he has access to everything. On the other, he has access to very little. He doesn't know what that intersection was like moments before he drove through it. He doesn't know the dive bar on the corner (he's actually lucky there). He doesn't know that amazing walk westward into a setting sun on a Friday afternoon in February.

It's a sacrifice.

And so, on this President's Day weekend, I think it's important to pause and recognize the challenges and sacrifices that come with such service and appreciate life's simple joys that you and I don't have to experience through a window.