Fist-Bumping The President

I have fist-bumped the president of the United States, Barack Obama.

Photos taken from

I was kind of disappointed the secret service didn't wrestle this clock to the ground when it fell off the wall

In retrospect, someone should have challenged him to a round of Golden Tee.

Just The Facts

  1. On Friday, January 22nd, 2010, Barack Obama made a speech in the town of Elyria, Ohio.
  2. He randomly stopped into a local burger establishment, Smitty's Place, for lunch.
  3. I was there.

Barack and Burgers

It was on Friday morning. The Elyria schools were canceled for the day due to the president's visit, so I had not been called in to substitute. Instead I had gone to the gym. It was about 11 when I finished working out. Naturally, when you are unknowingly about to meet the president, you want to be wearing your gym clothes.

I was hungry, so I decided to stop in for a burger at Smitty's Place. If you have never been to Smitty's place, you have been missing out. It serves the platonic form of the quarter-pounder with cheese lettuce and a secret-sauce-which-is-probably-just-mayo-and-pickle-juice-but-in-combination-becomes-so-much-more. It serves my favorite burger with the possible exception $1 Burger King sourdough burger, sadly since deceased.

Smitty's once resided in the dankest building an eatery could possibly reside in without being condemned, but when the local hospital chose to expand (and, by that I mean "chose to buy up a bunch of low-priced buildings, boarded them up, then never started construction"), Smitty's moved to a larger location, removed the adult games from the Megatouch table-top gaming device, and re-branded itself as a family establishment.

Fortunately, the quality of food had remained the same, despite the influx of wacky things placed on the walls, so it was in that frame of mind that I moseyed in and ordered a Smitty Burger and a thing of fried mushrooms. Immediately after placing my order, there was noticeable action outside. Policemen setting up roadblocks, snipers taking position, parking lots being cleared. Secret service agents entered the restaurant with terrorism-sniffing dogs, and announced the Obama's imminent arrival. They said that we could stay if we wished, but would we would need to be patted down.

We were going to meet the president.

At this point, my food was brought out, but I felt much less hungry than I did before.

Everyone in the restaurant was nervous as heck. Or at least I assume so because I know I was. And also mad at myself that I was wearing shorts.

He came in the back entrance, flanked by Bill Grace (the mayor of Elyria), reporters, and a bunch of dark-suited guys who could have totally kicked your ass if you tried anything. He's taller than you'd think and skinnier than you'd expect. He likes his burger with mustard and mayo, but no ketchup.

As you would expect, Obama worked the room like a populist master. He marveled at the age of a fry-chomping 98 year old. He poked fun at a bald guy wearing a Jets tie. He picked up a clock that some TV guy knocked over. He lifted up a confused little girl. He offered to pay the check for a guy celebrating his birthday with a bowl of chili. Then he came up to me.

Keep in mind I appeared much less cool in this conversation in real life than the description may make me appear.

He asked me if I was cold, and I said I just came from the gym. He asked what I did for a living, I said I was a substitute teacher trying to find something permanent, but I had gone to school at the University of Chicago. His eyes brightened at the mention of the school. I told him I worked on his campaign and voted for him and hoped that he could complete the work he set out to do and Godspeed. He thanked me and extended his hand.

I told him I would prefer the fist-bump.

It's only in retrospect that I realized how much of a Forrest Gump request that was.

He smiled and extended his fist, and I extended mine to match him, his wedding ring stinging a little as we collided. A moment shared by two people who wanted the same thing, for a greeting, for a lunch, and for a country.

There remains little to say. The president ate with Mayor Grace. He tipped well and left to speak at the community college and to fight the fight that he is able.

And so will I. What more can one do?