The job is at the Regent Beverly Wilshire. We’ve been given an absurdly early call time. The sun is barely rising as I drive through Los Angeles sans traffic; this is pretty much the only time I don’t hate this city, which means that the other 355 days a year that I don’t wake up at 5 AM are spent grinding my teeth and praying for some obscure plague to come through Hollywood and wipe out half of the population with driver’s licenses. This would be a welcome genocide.
The girls have been notified that Mr. Barack Obama will be staying at the hotel and that we should be prepared for heightened security. I walk down Wilshire Boulevard, holding an iced coffee and managing the hair flying in my face, and watch as a police officer stands behind a car barricading the south side of Rodeo Drive, eyeing me as I pass. As I bend down to fix the zipper at my heel, I am seized with the irrational fear that this police officer is not watching me because I am wearing leggings with revealing holes all over them, but that he suspects me of subterfuge. Does he think I’m going for a gun? Does he think I am a diversion for some terrorist plot? I stand back up slowly, making no sudden movements, like one does when in front of a rabid dog.
Further afield, a group of tan uniformed officers stand in a huddle formation, discussing what I assume to be a safe exit strategy for our president. Neither party accidentally takes me out. Imagine that.
I enter the front part of the hotel, the smell of a seven AM cigar being carried with me, having attached itself to my trail after passing an older gentleman outside who has pretty much decided that his life will be spent doing whatever the hell he wants – including smoking a stogie before breakfast and a wearing a navy pinstripe suit.
The hotel is all marble and wood. Giant floral arrangements. It always feels impossibly grand, but today, the presence of Obama in the building gives the place an undeniably heightened sense of importance. I walk past silent hotel concierge, everyone hushed and reverent on account of the early hour and the president. It’s like being inside of a mausoleum.
In between the north side and the south side of the hotel is a cobblestone driveway I am accustomed to seeing expensive cars breeze through while finicky old women adjust the clasps on their diamond tennis braceletes, waiting for their Maybachs. Today is comparatively silent.
The security detail is on the other side of white painted French doors. A man holds back a hungry looking German shepherd. Three men stand at a table, collectively manning a temporary metal detector. I put my purse down and say something along the lines of “This is so exciting” and pass under the cream plastic frame with nary a beep. I collect my belongings, pulling my purse over my shoulder, as the German shepherd behind me jumps to attention, gnashing his teeth and barking like a canine sociopath. “RESPECT!” the handler yells, placing a strong leg in front of the dog’s chest. I move quickly towards the safety of the staircase, imagining that this dog would have no qualms about killing me before this job.
Dear Barack Obama, thank you for spicing up the beginning of an ordinary day.