Waiting for the Rally: A Timeline
by Esther Kang
11:20 a.m. Leave Tribune Tower and walk to Radio Shack to buy batteries
11:40 a.m. Ride the #3 bus to Roosevelt and walk over to Grant Park, passing roadblocks and police officers
Noon Arrive at the media entrance at Grant Park, stand in line for bag/equipment check. Watch Reik, the bomb-sniffing dog, sniff my bag. Glad I didn't bring that big, juicy steak with me
12:15-12:30 p.m. Survey the grounds and walk over to the media area, a place for journalists from news organizations that did not shell out the cash for riser space. Discover that photographers have staked out the best spots and have been waiting there since Monday
12:55 p.m. A Japanese photog from Kyodo News suggests that if I want a shot of the podium, I should run over to Home Depot, buy a ladder, and bring it back. Hmm, no thanks.
1 p.m. Find out that Access Hollywood has paid a local man to come to Grant Park and save its spot. The man sits on a folding chair and reads a hardcover edition of Russell Simmons' book, Do You!: 12 Laws to Access the Power in You to Achieve Happiness and Success.
1:40 p.m. Debate whether or not I should make my way back out to the streets to report from there. Decide to stay put and avoid long lines and sniffing dog at bag/equipment check
2:30 p.m. Stake out a spot from which to take crowd shots. Unintentionally consume several grams of sand blowing out from the fields
3:30 p.m. Make calls to colleagues to update them on the situation—and also to kill time
4 p.m. Walk around and spot familiar newspeople—Nightline's Terry Moran, CNN's Candy Crowley, and MSNBC's David Schuster among them. Have urge to point and laugh but resist
4:10 p.m. Stand in line for lunch/dinner at the concession stand, where my choices pretty much are $10 sandwiches or $4 hot dogs. Decide that, on Election Day, one should be patriotic and eat a hot dog. What's more American than encased meat consisting of cow, pig parts, and a rubber boot?
4:30 p.m. Fall into minor depression after realizing that it'll be another three hours until ticketholders are allowed into the park
4:45 p.m. Play game in which I ask foreign journalists where they're from
4:50 p.m. Rush over to take shots of Wall Street Journal Online reporter Andy Jordan as he videotapes foreign journalists talk to a cutout figure of Barack Obama. I'm media covering media covering media. Fall into greater depression
5:05 p.m. Lights come on!
5:48 p.m. Notice that the media area is starting to get crowded
6 p.m. Sound comes on! Now I can watch election results on the Jumbotron.
6:20 p.m. Eyes are fixed on the Jumbotron when we hear screaming in the distance. I swear I also heard a stampede. Look over and see ticketholders running across the field for the best spots from which to view the rally. They've been let into the park more than an hour earlier than scheduled, which is just fine by me.
6:30 p.m. Crowd starts filling the field. Ready to rock 'n' roll
Photograph: Esther Kang