Monday, July 26, 2010

I was impressed, for a moment

Something strange happened the other day. As you may have guessed from my rantings, I am on the moderate-to-left of the political spectrum, depending on the issue. But through work, I had the chance to meet my (current) state's governor, who is a conservative Republican.

No, he's not the governor of the State of Confusion. Quiet back there in the Peanut Gallery.

Where was I? Oh, yes, shaking hands with the governor. (As I said to the folks on Facebook, no, that's not a euphemism.)

He was shorter than I expected, actually.

Here's the thing. No matter what I felt about him before he walked into the lobby of the building (where we had our photo op set up) and no matter what I felt about him after he went on his way (into the meeting room for his event)...
In that one moment when he strode into the room with his staffers and bodyguards...

I was impressed.

I think over on Facebook I compared it to being in a professional sports locker room for the first time.

The first time I covered the Pittsburgh Penguins, I was dazzled. Wow! There's Mario Lemieux! There's Jaromir Jagr! Ron Francis! Etc. The second time, it was like, excuse me Mario, I'll just get out of your way because I have to interview Tomas Sandstrom and I'm on deadline. It's a job and you're kind of used to it.

Right up until the moment the governor walked through the doors, I was like, "whatever." This is the guy whose budget decisions threatened my wife's job and many of her friends'. Once he was gone, it was like, well, on a professional level, glad that's over with.

But that photo op... he had an aura. I think it's the aura of the office. The governor is supposed to be a "big man," and while he certainly is barrel-chested and stocky, he's not particularly tall - when I think big, I'm thinking offensive lineman. He's really not much bigger than my best friend, who's about 6-foot, 250-something (and jealous, as he, too is a conservative Republican).

I think it's kind of a (low-rent) version of what people say about meeting the President - you salute the rank, not the man. (Though I wonder if this is still true.) I mean, this is the governor.

I thought after all I've been fortunate enough to have seen and done in my journalism career, and particularly given my political leanings and the fact that I'd worked for a couple of days with his advance team (so it was a job, not a celebration), I wouldn't have been so caught up. And frankly, by the time I shook his hand, some of the magic had gone - particularly because he seemed very nice, in contrast to his reputation.

But in the moment... huh. Nice to know I can still be impressed. Much like faith, I'll take my amazement where I can find it.