Breakdown

Of course, one of the tensest moments came on the last day. I’m sure the lack of sleep all week, as well as my state of pure physical exhaustion, contributed to that moment. I was in charge of distributing signs to the delegates in Zone 3 from American Samoa, North Dakota, Wyoming, Oklahoma, Washington DC, and Louisiana. The delegates from American Samoa, North Dakota, and Wyoming were incredibly gracious. Washington DC was never happy and Louisiana constantly complained I was shortchanging their delegation. “We need more signs,” was her response when I handed her stacks of at least 150 placards for their 70 something delegates. I merely smiled as sweetly as possible and said, “But I gave you more than any other delegation. Really. I think there’s enough to go around. Trust me,” and walked away as swiftly as possible.

The call came over the walkie talkie we were required to wear. “We have 5 minutes to move all signs. All remaining signs for the night need to be brought into the voms. Over.” Preposterous. Surely that wasn’t true. We still had multiple pushes. Of many signs. The big, tall, 5 foot vertical signs. At least 5000. In my area alone. And multiple placards. Boxes upon boxes. What was this crazy talk?

“Lori for Bryan. Lori for Bryan. Come in, Bryan.”

“Go for Bryan.”

“Was that last call only for Zones 1 and 2 (on the floor)? Or for everyone? Over.”

“Everyone. All signs must be within the voms in 5 minutes. Secret Service is closing the floor. Over.”

“We have 5 minutes to move all signs? Over.”

“Correct. Over.”

Holy crap. I mobilized my team and we raced signs from the staging area to the voms, stacking them as neatly as possible. At one point, a volunteer blocked my entrance to a vom, stating the Fire Marshal had closed all entrances. No one was allowed in. “But, I’m just putting signs in. I’ll be right out.” Didn’t matter.

I radioed the woman in charge.

“Lori for Ellen. Lori for Ellen.”

“Go for Ellen.”

“Ellen, I can’t enter the floor. All voms on floor 5 are closed. Over.”

“Standby.”

I waited.

“Ellen for Lori. Ellen for Lori.”

“Go for Lori.”

“The Fire Marshal has approved all vests. All vests approved to enter and exit voms. Over.”

“Thanks, Ellen. Over.”

I told the credentialed person at the entrance to the vom that I was okay to go in. The Fire Marshal had okayed anyone wearing a vest (me included) to enter the floor. He shrugged, then let me through. As I passed through the curtain, carrying garbage bags full of “Kerry” signs, I felt a forceful hand on my shoulder.

“Hey!” he shouted as he twirled me around. “You are a liar! You lied to my person! You are not allowed to be in here!”

I was shocked. “No. I am allowed in here. The Fire Marshal said. He radioed everyone. Excuse me.”

He followed me, badgering me.

I exited the vom. I radioed Ellen.

“Lori for Ellen. Lori for Ellen.”

“Go for Ellen.”

“Ellen, I’m having problems on the 5th floor. I’m not being allowed access to the voms. The supervisor just called me a liar.”

This is the point where I broke down.

Sobbing, over the walkie talkie, I repeated, “I’m not a liar. I’m not lying. The Fire Marshal said we could go in. Please clear with all Security. Over.”

“Lori, I can’t understand you. Who won’t let you in?”

“The supervisor. Steve. (sob, sob) He… he… he… called me a liar…. I’m not lying… I (sob, sob) I’m just trying to get the signs where they need to be…. (sob, sob) Over.”

“Which supervisor? What is he wearing?”

As calmly as I could, I explained what he was wearing, the white polo which identified him as DNCC staff. Calm being a relative term. I could barely breathe as I repeated his words. I’m not a liar. Why would I make something up? Especially when Secret Service was involved.

Within seconds, we were allowed in and Steve apologized to me.

Signs were distributed, balloons were dropped (although a little late), and all was right at the convention.

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