Driving down Rt. 100 at 5:00 last night was not driving at all. It was quite a crawl to my destination, Barnes and Noble at Main Street. There is usually a bit of rush hour traffic in this particular area, but this was an entirely different story. Possibly an accident up ahead and out of sight. After 25 minutes, I finally made the entrance, no accidents in sight, however, a stream of people snaking through the huge complex and cars parked all over the place identified the source of the traffic...Glenn Beck.
Happy to know that my sister was already in line, I walked the length of the snake and saw a mile of smiling happy people, clutching their hardbacks with Glenn's goofy face, one after the other, 1000? 2000? 3000? I found my sister, thankfully, pretty far up in the line, in front of a bustling pizza shop. As I glared in, the workers behind the counter were frantically serving slices, all smiling and chatting, and the register was ringing.
We inched up in line, strangers in front and behind, talking together as if we've known each other for years. Cameras flashing as the big Glenn Beck bus turned the corner and cheers and waving stretched down the long line. Just across the street, a lone protester held a silly sign. One. Just one. From my vantage point, there were Senior Citizens, business men, housewives, young college students. All smiling. Finally out of the cold, the store was packed, there was a long line at the coffee bar, long lines at the main register and of course the long line for Beck himself. There were workers running around, security guards, janitors, all busy, all smiling. My awareness of all that was going on around me kept intensifying and it was beginning to feel good. Really good.
My camera phone, of course, decided that it just didn't want to play today just as I approached Glenn. But I shook his hand and he giggled as he quickly signed my book. I tried the camera again, to no avail, and whisked myself out of the store. My sister suggested dinner so we walked to the nearest resturaunt...packed. Another...packed, 1/2 hour wait. We drove out of the complex about 3 miles away...packed. We found a seat at the bar and ordered. I asked the waitress if this place was always like this on a Thursday night. Smiling, she said that she hadn't seen the place lit up like this in months. Her excitement conveyed to me that all she wanted to do was get some time away to count up her tips. As I surveyed the pretty resturaunt, I became fixated on the smiles. Wall to wall. I had not seen a night like this in a very long time, bustling, registers, packed places, smiles, talking to strangers, feeling like the "good ole' days" which really wasn't too long ago. Capitalism at its finest. From the security guards, to the waitresses, the janitors, retail small business owners, if for just that night, Glenn Beck brought all of us back to a real great time in our lives when we didn't worry, we lived. I saw people who were smiling because they were working, making their own money, conversing with new friends who share common thoughts. For me, it was like taking a gulp of ice cold water after a 4 hour boat ride. It felt that good. So, thanks Glenn, thank you for so much more than just your commentary everyday, thank you for letting me feel that excitement of American life again.