Dear readers. The weeks before Christmas are chaotic and filled with high expectations, high demands, and fun…fun…fun. So when a work trip pops up the answer is inevitably no, unless the request comes from the White House. Yes, my friends, you read that right. I was invited to the White House. Now let me get a couple of questions out of the way:
- Yes, I went on the work trip two weeks before Christmas.
- No, I did not get to meet the President or the First Lady.
- No, I did not get to hug Joe Biden, even though that was Afthead Junior’s number one request.
- No, I did not sit in the Oval Office. In fact, I didn’t even make it to the White House building. My meeting was in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building or EEOB seen on the right, behind the many fences, in the image below. It is very close to the White House, and still pretty darn impressive, as you will see.
After checking in with security, being sniffed by a dog, x-rayed, and being checked by security again I was presented with my official credentials, that I had to return, and the badge I still wear everywhere except to sleep because it is pokey.
Do you see that? It says “The White House.” Then it says “Johanna Levene.” That’s me! The weird part about being in the EEOB – I am so official using the acronym – is that once you get through all of the security you just get to wander around this insanely cool old building. All the important rooms are locked with a badge reader – like the Vice President’s office, so one couldn’t just wander in for a hug – but you can just walk into many of the historic rooms if there isn’t a meeting going on.
The ceilings are impressive.
The stairwells are impressive.
The library is impressive.
The conference rooms are impressive. This is part of the Secretary of War Suite.
The wallpaper is impressive.
I am impressive (and very smiley, because my badge says White House.) I cannot believe my Christmas cards were made before I got this picture. Maybe next year….
But the computers are archaic. Just kidding. Oddly there were flat screen TVs in all the conference rooms, and they looked completely out of place. However, in the Secretary of War Suite there was also this little set up in case you brought your typing skills, or some ink and parchment and wanted to pen a founding document real quick.
After my meeting – yes I actually participated in a four hour meeting in addition to taking all these pictures – I ate lunch in the coffee shop (lunch at the White House); tried to get into the Truman bowling alley (locked); and bought a bunch of Christmas presents at the White House gift shop. As I left I came the closest to the actual White House itself, so of course I took a picture. Yeah, that’s the West Wing there on the other side of the parking lot. Wave to President Obama. Then I turned around and snapped a picture of the EEOB one last time, because you can’t get this angle unless you are a White House visitor.
This was my first White House invitation in my thirteen year career, and the best part about the meeting is that it was actually important I was there. This was no gratuitous White House invite. I briefed my boss’s, boss’s, boss’s….on and on… boss before the meeting, and he used my talking points in his presentation. I got to speak. I made a call to action. It was pretty darn cool. I think I deserve a congratulatory pat on the afthead.
In case you are interested in learning more of the history of the EEOB or White House check out these great sites:
Eisenhower Executive Office Building Tour: https://www.whitehouse.gov/about/inside-white-house/eeob-tour