Tonight, I volunteered at the official Inauguration Ball in London. Alex was invited by someone else to volunteer, and she in turn invited me. I didn't bother to research what time Obama would be sworn in or when he would give his speech: I just assumed it would all take place during the dinner/ball and we would all watch it. No, apparently his speech took place as I was riding the tube to the ball. I was working most of the night (though it wasn't hard work), so didn't really get to see anything except a very sleepy-looking Obama arrive for lunch with Congress. My job sucked, because I was seen as a bad guy and people snapped at me. When everyone arrived, they were sent to the reception room for drinks. Then after an hour, they were supposed to head upstairs to the dining room for dinner, and the reception room would be converted into the "ballroom." The people organizing the ball anticipated that people would linger in the reception room, so they gave us the job of gently suggesting that people maybe move their asses along to the dining room. People did not like to receive this suggestion. Responses we heard included (all in annoyed voices), "Yeah, we're just finishing our bottle of champagne;" "I haven't even had my drink yet!" "Our table is at the back so we won't even get served for awhile;" "We're having a conversation." Not pleasant.
After 10pm, Alex and I headed downstairs to the "ball" (term used loosely.) We danced to some classic 70s dance hits, then headed upstairs for the first of three showings of Obama's speech. Though it did not bring tears to my eyes like some of his other speeches have, it was still very moving. Especially the part about solidarity for people living in poverty.
A couple thoughts:
1) I haven't been around that many American accents in months! It was weird to realize that I was surrounded by hundreds of people, and at least 85% of them were American. I didn't like it.
2) The people at the party were far from the best representatives of American hospitality. Everyone attending was rude! All the volunteers were American as well, and they all had stories of being yelled at. Barack Obama just became our president, people. Try to be happy and pleasant for once in your lives! I can't decide if I should dislike Americans, or American expatriates. Are they all rich snobs? Are they under some kind of delusion that their being abroad makes them better people than everyone else? Hey, guess what, jerks! I'm American, too, and I live abroad, too! So you can shove your bad attitudes!
3) During dinner, the attendees were instructed to thank volunteers wearing badges. The entire evening, one person thanked me. One.
So, while I liked Obama's speech, him talking about how great Americans are didn't really strike a chord in my heart. We're no better and no worse than the citizens of any other nation. We've got our fair share of self-righteous, ungrateful bastards.
On the bright side, apparently there's a Costco in London! I had Costco muffins tonight! Can you believe that? I can't!