SEPT 3rd IS MY SISTER LAURA’S BIRTHDAY
I woke up on September 3rd 2015 with two thoughts in my mind: Call my younger sister Laura and wish her a happy birthday! I have always tried to be the first one who calls her every year, and considering she starts work early, I’m calling usually by 6:00 a.m. After singing a rather lovely rendition of “Happy Birthday” (well, at least in my estimation!) we giggled, and said goodbye.
NOW: WHAT TO WEAR TO MEET THE PRIME MINISTER
Now – it was on to the second thought: figuring out what to WEAR! Ha ha, I’m sure you thought I was going to write something else. Well, what does one wear to meet the Prime Minister of Canada? At this point, I didn’t know if I would get to meet him or even get close enough to him, but you get the point. I was nervous, and didn’t know what to wear. I finally settled on black Capri pants, a blue sweater, red earrings, and red peep toe pumps. I was, after all, attending a Conservative rally, and those are their colours! I also wear blue mascara, so believe me, I was all matchy matchy and finally dressed and ready to go.
I also had to rummage in my closet to find an old handbag that was tall and skinny – because my plan was to take a copy of my piano book I had composed for Stephen so that I could get him to sign it. I hope I’m not offending anyone by just using his first name, it’s just so much easier than typing out Prime Minister Stephen Harper, so give me a break and don’t get mad at me for being informal, okay? Back to the purse. It didn’t really go with my outfit, it was a deep burgundy, very old (at least 15 years old) so not even trendy, but it didn’t matter. My book fit in it like a charm, and that’s all I needed it to do.
NEXT STEP: DIRECTIONS
I printed out the directions to where I was going, as I had never been there before. The email invitation to the actual event only comes out the day before the event because of security, so even though I knew the event was happening Sept 3, it was only Sept 2 when I received the address of where to go. It was Tropicana, a juice making plant in Surrey, so not too far from my house. It said to arrive at least 2 hours early, and I had booked the entire day off, so I was good to go. Thank goodness for MapQuest!
ONE SHOULD ALWAYS BE HOURS EARLY FOR AN EVENT!
I actually arrived earlier than 2 hours, because even though I had looked up the place on google maps, I wasn’t quite sure of where I would be allowed to park. No worries there – I found a spot immediately, and then started walking towards the warehouse. I wasn’t really sure where I was going, but I saw a whole lot of other people all dressed up walking purposefully towards a warehouse, and I figured they were doing the same thing I was. Yup – I was right! When I rounded one corner, there was a tent set up, with people sitting under it with laptops and computer equipment. I followed the crowd, and we were directed to get into line. There was a huge line up of people already there, I would guess over 50 people already, and we were 2 ½ hours early! WOW! So, I obediently got into line, and after a while I struck up a conversation with another lady who was in front of me, and obviously by herself too. It certainly helped pass the time! I think we waited for over an hour without moving, and there was a steady stream of people coming to join the line.
PAPPARAZI OR WHAT!
What I found interesting is that there was a photographer that just continually walked around, taking pictures of us. You know when you feel that someone is staring at you? I was busy talking to this very interesting lady, when I felt that someone was looking at me. I turned, only to be captured on film by a guy less than 10 feet away, with a huge honking zoom camera. YIKES! I looked at him, he looked at me, and continued to click. It was a bit unnerving, but it wasn’t only me he was taking pictures of, it was EVERYONE! I guess it’s for security? I wonder if someone somewhere was looking at all the pictures that were being taken, to see if any of us looked suspicious or planning on something nefarious. Who knows!
After about an hour, the line started to move. YAY! I felt the butterflies in my stomach flap around a bit. When I was finally at the table, I handed over my ID and my invitation. It all checked out fine, I got a smile, and was directed into a side door of the warehouse. When I walked in, it was set up inside like a square with black heavy curtains hanging all around, and in the square were round tall cocktail tables, but with no chairs. Standing room only please. There was a big table set up with pastries, fruit, tea and coffee. I was too nervous to eat anything, and I didn’t want to have tea, because I knew I would have to pee like a racehorse within 15 minutes. So, I enjoyed people watching, and kind of moved around. It’s odd to be with a huge group of people and you don’t know a single person. It’s hard to mingle. I finally saw the lady that I had talked with earlier, and I made my way over to her. She had grabbed a muffin and was chowing down rather noisily. It made me grin, but inside my head only. Apparently she had been to different events with Stephen Harper before, so she had that little bit of a smug attitude, you know, the “you’re lower than me, I have been two 5 events with Stephen Harper and you haven’t, nyah nyah nyah nyah nyah attitude?” Whatever! I didn’t care, I was so excited to be here that it didn’t matter to me. I was secretly amused at her own concept of self-importance. We were kept in this room for about another forty minutes, and the room just kept getting more crowded as more people came in.
A SNEAKY HASTY EXIT
Suddenly, the lady grabbed my arm, and said, “Hey, they are letting people out, let’s go check it out!” We quickly made our way through the fruit stuffing pastry mouths and got to the door. Sure enough, they were letting people go outside, and in through another door of the warehouse across from us. We made our way over, to have more pictures of us taken, and then once inside we had to hand over our purses where they did another check. I had nothing in mine, except my driver’s license, my car key, my invitation, one black pen, and my piano book. I was given a smile, and allowed to proceed.
There were more black curtains set up, and I followed a path to where there were a whole bunch of chairs set up facing a small stage. The stage was only maybe a foot high off the ground. I sat in the second row on the right hand side. Soon more people started coming in. I don’t know what happened to the other lady, we were separated when we had our purses checked, and I never saw her again. Doesn’t mean she wasn’t allowed in, I just didn’t see her.
MEETING STRANGERS IS A COOL THING
Shortly after I sat down, another gentleman that was probably in his early 50’s (my guess?) came and sat beside me. He was very jovial and chatty, and he told me that he was a retired police officer from Ontario. I thought that was rather exciting, and he started to regale me with his amazing stories of doing past security work for government officials. He would point at someone and say, “see that guy over there? He’s actually police! And that guy over there? He’s also the chief of security, but you’d never know it.” I was just flabbergasted at the stories he told me. It was so AWESOME! We sat there for quite some time, me listening with BIG HUGE EYES.
This guy even knew some of the security people that were there, and some of them even said hi, or nodded at him when they went past. It was very thrilling. Most of the chairs were filling up with people. What I didn’t realize is that they also had people dressed normally, but this guy pointed out guys in the row behind us, “they are also security”. Oh my WORD! I felt like I was in a spy novel, because he would lean over and whisper to me all this stuff.
UH OH, SECURITY
Suddenly, an obvious security guy came over, and asked us if one of us could please move to the front row. My new found friend told me to move, and I insisted that no – HE should be allowed the privilege to sit in the front row, so he happily got up and moved. He was basically right in front of me, and he kept turning around, and we kept talking.
As we were chatting, I noticed a guy wearing a backpack come from the side of the stage from behind a black curtain, and while I was listening to my buddy talking in the front row, I was watching the guy when suddenly WHAM, he was flat out on his back. I almost didn’t see the take-down. The guy was suddenly stood up, and ushered out with two people on either side of him. My mouth dropped open, and I couldn’t believe it.
Did I just see a guy thrown to the floor and taken out, all in less than 15 seconds? Yup, I had. I KNOW my mouth was hanging open. My guy had turned his head at the last second and saw it too. “Wow, those guys are good huh!” he said to me. I had NO idea that those people had also been security. You could tell who security was, they were wearing dark navy, and had ear buds with wires sticking out of their ears, but the ones who took down the guy were NOT, they were dressed as civilians. Holy cow batman! I was so impressed, I couldn’t believe it! WOW!
So, after that incident, there were suddenly MORE people milling about, and suddenly the whole front row was asked to move seats, and there was some serious shuffling as others took their place. My buddy informed me that they were probably all undercover agents. So WILD! I can’t begin to tell you how exciting this all was for me, I seriously felt like I was in a movie or something!
SITTING NEXT TO SECRET SERVICE
The person who took over the chair from my buddy was also asked to move, and suddenly a security guy came and sat down beside me. He was official, he was secret service. Or whatever we call them in Canada. He was constantly scanning the room, and then he finally turned and acknowledged me. I told him why I had come to the rally, because I had written a piano book for Stepehen Harper, and now I wanted him to sign my own copy. I pulled the book out of my ugly purse, and showed him. He looked at it quickly, and then gave it back to me. He then said to me, “Hey, I’m going to go see if we can get you to see the Prime Minister, I have to check with his private secretary. Don’t let anyone sit here.” He then got up, and disappeared behind a curtain. When he came back, he gave me a thumbs up, and said, “after this is all over, don’t follow the crowd, stick right beside me, and if I stop walking, you stop walking.” I nodded my head, and I could feel my heart pounding. Tim then stopped talking with me, and kept scanning the crowd. I couldn’t expect him to be too chatty, he WAS working after all!
Finally, a whole group of people paraded up the middle of the chairs, and stood on the small, square stage. There was about three rows of people, and they were facing us. Kind of like a church choir, but just completely random people! Well, maybe not random, I’m sure most of them were also security in disguise. It felt like another 15-20 minutes went by, but I was so engrossed in people watching, and keeping an eye on the secret service guy beside me that the time seemed to fly by!
INTRODUCING: PRIME MINISTER STEPHEN HARPER
Someone finally went to the microphone, and made introductions of people who worked at the plant, and then finally Stephen Harper was introduced. He walked in along with his wife, and she sat in the row across from me. Stephen then proceeded to give his speech. It was being televised live, and as he talked, the people in the background showed behind him. I grabbed out my camera and happily took pictures. I was in the second row, but probably only 10 feet away from the Prime Minister of Canada. WOOHOO!
After the speech was over, Stephen was whisked backstage behind the black curtains, and everyone stood up and was being ushered out. My secret service guy Tim quickly motioned for me to follow him, and we went the opposite direction of the crowd. He took me through another set of curtains, and said, “stay here, don’t move!”. I obediently stood still, and looked around. Not much to see – I was in another square of black curtains, with obvious security people standing at attention in certain spots. They were looking at me, I was looking at them, and I wonder if they were wondering why I was back there.
I GOT THE A-OKAY
When Tim came back, he said, “good news, his private secretary said he was willing to meet you, follow me.” I followed behind, and we came to another squared off curtain area. We walked up to this very young guy (I think mid twenties?) who was holding a clipboard and looking very official. I smiled at him, and he held out his hand. We shook hands, and while we were shaking, he got this look on his face, and said, “I know you!” I gave him a funny look, and said, “I don’t think so?” And he insisted, “yes, I KNOW you!”
I was just stunned. He kept staring at me, and I finally answered, “well, I really don’t think so, I live in Langley”. What a lame answer huh! It makes me laugh now, but I was SO NERVOUS at the time! I then said, “I’m the one who wrote Stephen Harper a piano book, and I came today to see if he would be willing to sign a copy for me!” and I pulled my copy out of my extremely ugly purse.
I AM FORMALLY RECOGNIZED
The secretary looked at the piano book, and then back at my face, and said “OHHHHHHH! Stephen has his copy of that book on the piano at home!” I think that’s when my mouth fell open – yet again! Geesh, I don’t usually swallow flies, but it was turning out to be that kind of day! Ha ha ha. Stephen Harper’s private secretary had recognized me from my picture in the piano book from my biography page. WOW! He told me that of course he would let Stephen sign it for me, and then said to follow him, and we rounded yet another set of black curtains.
Around this corner were different people posing with Stephen. There was a group of employees, then the president of Tropicana, and then some other people who were running for the Conservatives and this was their riding. Suddenly, they were finished taking pictures, and I was just standing there. I was motioned over, and so I walked right up to Stephen.
WHAT I SAID TO THE PRIME MINISTER OF CANADA
“Hi, my name is Donna Lovett, and I’m the one who wrote the piano book for you!” I managed to say. Stephen immediately held out his hand, and we shook, and he said, “thank you SO MUCH! I have the book on my piano at home!” I broke out in a huge grin, and then said, “well, I brought another copy, and I was hoping you would sign it for me!” He replied “of course!” and then he suggested that we move over to a table so he could write on it easier. As we walked together over to the table, my heart was pounding. I have never had so many eyes on me in my life! Ha ha ha. Security galore!
I happened to have a pen in my purse, and handed it over. When he finished signing my book, I asked if I could take a selfie, and he beamed, and said, “SURE!” So, I did! Stephen leaned in close behind me, and I quickly pushed the button! I only took one photo, I didn’t want to press my luck.
OFFICIAL PICTURES TAKEN
Then the guy with the camera who had taken all the other pictures said, “let’s take an official photo”, and he took a couple of pictures. He then took a business card, and gave it to me, wrote some numbers on it, and said, “email me and then I can send you these pictures.” I happily took it from him and popped it in my purse. By this time Stephen had disappeared, and it was just me, some security, and the photographer. I showed him my piano book, and said that I had gotten inspiration from pictures that Stephen had posted on his facebook site, “A day in the life of” and the photographer said, “hey, that’s me! Those are the pictures I took!” So, I showed him the pictures in the book, and said that I hadn’t credited him because I didn’t know who had taken the pictures, but he was thrilled that I had used them. YAY! We chatted up a storm, but then someone came and grabbed him, and down the corridor he went.
HANGING OUT WITH SECURITY
I was left alone with security, they were all doing their jobs, and I was told just to stand there. Finally, around the corner came Tim – the man who had gotten me behind the curtains! He said it was safe to leave, and then we headed outside. The campaign bus with Stephen Harper’s name on it was there, and I asked if he would take a picture of me beside it. He obliged, and then we took a picture together too. We were having a great chit-chat, and he told me that the event had been delayed that extra hour because of the security breach, the guy with the backpack had snuck into the warehouse, and they had no idea who he was and how he got in. I told Tim I saw the takedown, and marveled that it was done so quick, that it felt like it almost didn’t happen. He looked at me with a raised eyebrow and said, “well, those guys ARE professional.” Oh my freaking WORD! I still get the goose bumps thinking about it. If you hadn’t been looking at the stage at that exact time, you never would have seen it happen. No noise, no scuffle, just down, and out in less than 15 second. IMPRESSIVE!
WAITING TO LEAVE
So – now I knew the story on why the event was so delayed. They had to figure out where the guy got in and made sure there weren’t any more breaches. The guy turned out to be harmless, but that’s all Tim could say about it. TOO COOL!
GOD’s BLESSING TO ME BY ANSWERING MY PRAYER
What an awesome day. I’m still pinching myself. If the lady I had chatted with hadn’t directed us to leave the warehouse with food early, I never would have gotten a seat in the chairs, as there were probably only enough chairs for 30 people, and there were obviously more than 250 of us there. If I hadn’t been sitting beside the retired cop, I would have missed all the stories, and inside info on what was going on. If I had moved to the front row, I never would have sat next to the secret service guy Tim, and then I never would have had a chance to meet Stephen, because EVERYONE was ushered out right after the speech. WOW WOW WOW!
BEST DAY EVER!
All I can say is God is good. I had really prayed, and I had told God that I really, REALLY wanted to meet the Prime Minister, and he allowed it to work out for me. What a day, what an adventure, and HEY!
I JUST MET THE PRIME MINISTER OF CANADA AND TOOK A SELFIE!
Excuse me, you may need to pop a few balloons so I can float back down to earth.
I will NEVER forget September 3, 2015. EVER!