I woke up early Friday morning, ready for a full day of SXSW Interactive sessions. My entire day was planned. First, I just had to check my email for any work-related fires. I didn’t find any fires, but I did discover that I won the lottery. I was selected for general admission into, “A Conversation with the President.”
To be honest, I text my co-workers in our group chat to weigh the importance of going to see the president versus the sessions I wanted to attend. The feedback was overwhelming; I was going to see the president speak in-person!
In order to attend the event, I was required to pick-up my ticket by 11:00 am at the Palmer Event Center. I left my hotel and requested an Uber to transport me. After picking up my ticket I learned a couple things about the event.
1. No backpacks allowed
2. No umbrellas allowed
3. We don’t know if laptops are allowed
4. You must be in line by 12:30 pm
Well, with it being SXSW and a good chance of rain on the forecast, I had a backpack, umbrella and laptop with me. Perfect! So, I lost my spot in the general admission line to take an Uber back to the hotel. I shifted my belongings to the standard issue SXSW tote bag. I left my umbrella and laptop behind. However, I did decide to chance it by bringing my iPad and Bluetooth keyboard for the chance to type my notes.
Waiting in Line
By the time I got back to the Palmer Event Center, I didn’t feel I had time to grab food or journey into Downtown Austin. I had to at least get a decent spot in line. Waiting in line would’ve been mundane, but I was too busy praying it wouldn’t rain with the other umbrellaless attendees.
Also, SXSW volunteers made the rounds informing people of what was prohibited from the event. Still, some of the volunteers said no laptops and others said they were ok. I began to worry about my iPad and Bluetooth keyboard, but I sure wasn’t going back to the hotel at this point.
Security was simple, but slow. I submitted my tote bag for it to be checked while I walked through a metal detector. Then, they waved me down with a wand. After that, I was handed my bag. My iPad and keyboard made it through! After the security check at the Palmer Event Center, there was a secured walkway to the Long Center for the Performing Arts, the actual venue for the event.
There were men in suits throughout the security check. It was very cool and even surreal to watch the Secret Service agents eye people down, looking for anything suspicious.
At the Long Center, they were selling concessions and drinks! Finally, some food! I helped myself to a hotdog and made my way to the general admission seating on the top balcony of the theatre.
Casey Gerald was the opening keynote speaker and delivered a wonderful message. You can read my blog post about it here. No matter how wonderful Casey Gerald’s message was though, everyone was here to see President Obama.
Well, the president was 30 minutes late. After waiting in line for so long, my patience was thin. You might have heard already that we was late because of his stop to Torchy’s Tacos in Austin. He told us he ordered a Democrat, a Republican and even an Independent!
It was such a privilege to see a sitting president speak in-person. It was an experience I will never forget. To read Agency Entourage’s take on President Obama’s call to action, click here. Or you can watch the entire address below, courtesy of SXSW!