Downstairs from Kyle’s apartment is a tiny greasy spoon, the kind of shoebox fast food place where all the workers are immigrants, the eggs are grilled fast and customers are in and out in less than a minute. The man and his wife on the line ahead of me looked familiar.
“Aren’t you Mitt Romney?” I asked in disbelief.
“I sure look like him, don’t I…” he replied not turning from the counter.
“Wait a minute: You ARE Mitt Romney,” I insisted. Not one person in the place recognized him. Even after I said his name quite loudly. “I’ll have to talk about this on the radio tomorrow…”
Now I had his attention.
“Oh, you’re a radio guy?” He said quickly, finally turning. “Well, okay, we, uh, forgive you…”
His wife tried to cover quickly for the lame joke. “Oh, thank you for your good work.” She complimented. There are so few LIBERAL radio hosts I’m sure she assumed I was a conservative.
“Well, I AM surprised…I certainly will mention that you were eating in a greasy spoon like ordinary people and not having a power breakfast at the St. Regis!”
I asked if they had seen the tree yet and they said ‘No, they hadn’t had time ’ asking when it had been lit. I told them the tree lighting was Wednesday and it was also the day President Obama had come to NYC for three fundraisers. (I made certain to refer to him as PRESIDENT Obama and not ‘Obama’.)
“Now, THAT must have created some traffic problems!” said Mitt, now more interested. I told him that the papers had predicted gridlock of historical proportions and that I had been stuck on a bus for hours Wednesday night. “Oh, dear, that’s terrible…” he sympathized.
“Regardless of the gridlock, I don’t think you’re going to be carrying THIS state…” I said as pleasantly as I could.
“We have hopes we will carry New York…” he answered.
“Yeah, well we’ve learned a lot about the promise and the realities of hope over the last few years, haven’t we?”
He chuckled. His wife smiled. A third man with them seemed to be a campaign official.
As he got his breakfast bag I shook his hand and finally told him I was a Democrat but that he and John Huntsman seemed to me to be the only Republican candidates capable of being President. His wife shook my hand as well. They were gracious and friendly. As assuredly as he will not get my vote, I was thrilled to have met him and appreciative of his accessibility and friendliness.
There was no security detail, no Secret Service. And perhaps it was not necessary. When they left I asked the workers: “Do you know who that was?’ Even after I told them he was one of the leading Republican candidates for president they still shrugged and shook their heads. I looked behind me on the line and to the three small tables of customers. “Did you see that was Mitt Romney?” I asked exitedly. NOT ONE PERSON IN THE ENTIRE PLACE, NOT ONE RECOGNIZED THE MAN, LET ALONE THE NAME…