February 10, 2008 in City

Doug Clark: Waiting in the Hillary line can test your wits

Doug Clark The Spokesman-Review
 

For anyone looking for a cheap sanity test, I advise standing outside in the cold in a long, slow-moving line of Democrats waiting to see Hillary Clinton.

If you haven’t gone completely bonkers in an hour or so, it’s a pretty good sign you’re sane enough to be thinking about getting a better hobby.

Such was my life Friday afternoon.

I joined the back portion of a line that snaked all the way around Spokane’s West Central Community Center.

I’ve always flunked the spatial relations parts of aptitude tests. But even I could tell that maybe half of this human parade would fit into the space where Hillary would be speaking.

Who came up with such a cramped venue for the Democratic front-runner’s campaign stop?

Hillary Clinton is a star.

This is like booking Madonna at the Empyrean coffeehouse.

This is like holding the Super Bowl on Hart Field.

This is like me trying to squeeze into size 32 Levi’s.

Sure, I could have gotten some press credentials and bypassed the pain.

But I am a man of the frozen masses.

To me, the political process is far more entertaining when viewed on its lowest levels.

Take the wisecracking guy standing next to me. I had already met Tomas Lynch some years ago when he was working in an outdoors shop.

“What are you doing now?” I asked.

“I’m a holistic handyman,” he replied.

You’re a … huh?

“I don’t just fix your bike,” Lynch explained. “I cure the whole bike.”

See? I never would have learned about holistic handymen if I were inside gabbing with the press corps.

Ed Brown, in line in front of me, was steamed about the confusing, undemocratic caucus system. So steamed, in fact, that he claimed to have called county and state officials in an attempt to get a refund on the 82 cents in stamps he and his wife wasted on their mail-in ballots.

It takes a lot of courage to be that committed to a lost cause.

This is an exciting time for Spokane.

Democratic presidential candidates Hillary and Barack Obama are engaged in an epic dogfight for delegates.

That made the scraps from our Democratic caucuses important enough to draw Friday visits by Hillary and Obama’s wife, Michelle, who appeared downtown at the Fox.

I’ve never been so proud of my hometown.

Besides frostbitten feet, my time in the line did produce a heartwarming reward.

While rounding a corner, a police officer warned me to be careful not to step in a gigantic slush puddle that was occupying most of the sidewalk.

That, I observed to my comrades, was the sweetest thing a Spokane cop had said to me in years.

“Probably because he didn’t recognize you,” offered Lynch.

Sad but true. Had the officer known, I would have been doing the backstroke.

At 2:10 p.m., several Ron Paul supporters cruised by the line with signs.

Proving my point that some people really are in need of better hobbies.

But the Paul promoters were grounded in reality compared to our next visitors. Two smirking Hillary haters walked past us toting crudely drawn placards that made references to Vince Foster and “Billary.”

All of a sudden I’m rethinking my skepticism about alien life forms.

We neared the halfway point in our journey to nowhere when a small bus pulled up. The driver was offering rides to the nearby Girl Scouts offices, which had been set up to handle the overflow.

The lure of a heated vehicle was too much.

Like yellow-spined deserters, Lynch and I broke ranks and climbed on board for the short ride to Maxwell and Ash.

In a few minutes we were in heaven. And by heaven I mean free Girl Scout cookies.

“This sure beats the line,” I mumbled through a mouthful of half-chewed Samoa.

Rows of chairs had been set up in front of a screen from which the candidate’s community center speech would be aired.

Then the word came. Hillary would be at least an hour late.

“She must be flying on Horizon,” quipped the holistic handyman.

I give up. Like too many Thin Mints, a guy can stomach only so many political setbacks in an afternoon.


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