One burger, two presidents

A few hours ago, just after finishing a fabulous burger with brie at Ray’s Hell Burger in Arlington, I shook the hands of President Obama and President Medvedev. I don’t get star struck (well, unless I get to brush up against amazing beauty CEOs such as Leslie Blodgett of Bare Escentuals). But I still have goose bumps about it.

About halfway through our burgers, my friend Michael Ortner, Founder and CEO of Capterra and I (and the rest of the restaurant) are told by a very serious looking Secret Service agent that the President is on his way, and that we have to be “wanded” and our belongings checked. Unless of course we prefer to leave. Yeah right. We aren’t done eating!

Michael and I meet for lunch two or three times per year. Both Georgetown alumns, we often find ourselves invited back on campus to speak to students about what it really means to be an entrepreneur. He is the one who suggested we meet at Ray’s Hell Burger (I remember Ray’s the Steaks from a few years ago, when there were no other Ray’s and the place was a tiny hole in the wall with the best steaks and superb wine list). And for that suggestion (and his Search Engine Optimization advice), I am forever grateful to Michael.

In walks President Obama, and his entourage of Secret Service and press photographers. In a blue shirt and burgundy tie, he is tall (taller than I had imagined), handsome, charismatic. I can’t take my eyes off of him. He sounds just like he does on TV, but better. He greets the lunch crowd, smiles, and tells us he really wanted to bring President Medvedev here because these are the best burgers. And after all, what says “USA” better than a fantastic burger?

He shakes hands, smiles, orders (and pays, I learned later reading the Washington Post), and sits down at the table right behind me. He is shaking the hands of the table next to ours; I really want to shake his hand, but someone in a suit is slightly in the way (Secret Service I guess). I make eye contact, he must read my mind, as he extends his hand past the Suit. “Thank you Mr. President” are the only words that I can utter. And then, President Medvedev extends his hand, and I shake it too. One burger, two presidents, two handshakes.

The two men sit down across from each other, and begin the process of eating the best burger in DC. I hear President Obama warn President Medvedev that it is messy, so “be careful if you like that tie.”

Media are ushered in and out, this chaotic circus controlled by 20+ Secret Service agents. Michael and I stare, talk politics (SEO seems far away now), and stare some more, before he reluctantly says “I am ready whenever you are.” Now, I would have stayed until the President left, but I don’t want to seem like a star struck little girl (hmm, might be too late for that), so we get up and leave.

One of the many governmental black limos is firmly parked in a way that blocks my black Honda. Still in awe, I sit down in the driver’s seat and wait for the two presidents to finish their burgers and leave. Late for a client meeting and usually vey impatient, today, I couldn’t care less. I have a really good excuse for my tardiness.

18 thoughts on “One burger, two presidents

  1. Hi Ada, I don’t know how you like your burgers cooked, yet I must say your writing is “well done”! Thanks for taking us all with you to this surprise lunch with the President. What fun. And I want to add that from knowing you, you run your business with the same grace that is obvious in your meeting with power people. Best, Sylvia

  2. you are one lucky chick! what a great experience, and when I get back to the area I am going right to the burger place! Oh, and you look great with such a giddy smile!! ;0)

  3. AAAAh. That is SO COOL, Ada! Super fun posting. Really great- authentic report. And what a really nice blog!

  4. Dear Ada,
    How I wish I was there! Really double bonus and just because you accepted the invitation for a humble buurger. See what opportunities lie ahead for those who go outside their boundary line. Really happy to note that you are enjoying the Summer!

  5. Ada, I know the real truth about your affinity for “President gazing!” Fun article and what a great experience for you. Hugs! Debi

  6. Great story Ada.. very enjoyable to read. I remember sightseeing in D.C. a few years ago when the president’s motorcade went through the streets not far from the White House. It was amazing how law enforcement officers appeared on every corner and all traffic disappeared for the president to quickly get from one spot to another. What a delight when President Bush was leaning up to the car window (on our side) and waving at us as he rode by! Exciting stuff.

  7. That is a very neat experience. I am not an Obama fan, so it might have been less exciting for me, however, still very cool. And those burgers sound delicious!

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