My good friend Carol Fischer called me yesterday to tell me the following experience. I started to write it for her but didn't have enough of the details to complete it so we ended up writing it together. Larry is behind and Carol and Johnny are in the cart in the picture here.
They came to church in a yellow taxicab. Maybe that should have been the first clue that they were not your everyday Mormon couple visiting our Seaside Ward. My husband Larry thought they might need a ride back to their hotel and asked if I would take them.
Oh, why not I decided. Larry told me that they were from Utah originally, but had lived in D.C the past four years, working for the IRS. And now they were here visiting the Monterey Peninsula.
When we got into the car it was a little embarrassing. The passenger seat was covered with sand where the dog had been sitting after a visit to the beach. Quickly, I tried to brush it off the best I could while trying to push the dog's water bowl under the back seat. The couple had on very nice clothes and my car was definitely not user-friendly on this day. I tried to start the engine, but my hand problem was making it difficult, and so the man reached over the ashtray (that still held my "Obama for President" button), and started the mini-van. I noticed he had monograms on his shirt cuffs.
It is funny the things I wouldn’t have noticed if I would have been alone. The dog had slobbered on the window and you could see track marks on the pane. Then there was the smell. I had forgotten that Johnny, my handicapped son, had thrown some garbage bags in the back of the car on one of his garbage runs. He gets a real kick out of throwing sacks in your car, anyone’s car, unaware. But it was not a good time to discover smelly garbage in my car when I was giving two nicely dressed strangers a ride to their hotel.
They asked me many questions; but I had a lot of questions as well. I was very curious about what he did for the IRS in Washington D.C. Instead, we talked about Johnny, my teaching, my naturopathic Dr. in Farmington Utah, his son who was going on a mission to Taiwan, their daughter who was going into special education etc. But what I wanted to know was what the gentleman did at our nation's capitol.
Finally I jumped in and said, "Well, what about you, my husband said you worked for the IRS?" "Well, not the IRS," replied the man "I worked on health related issues". I continued to pump. "So, what company did you work for?" Sheepishly, he replied and I have to admit I was surprised at his answer – he worked for President Bush. " Oh, what was your job description there?" I probed. He replied, "Secretary of Health". There was a moment of silence. I was speechless, almost. I managed to say, "wow!"
My passenger continued to reveal his business now that he was outed. He was here in Monterey, at the invitation of Leon Panetta, to be a guest speaker about health care reform. The other member of the panel was Tom Dashcle.
Now the circumstance of the untidy car was becoming increasingly more embarrassing. And I was sure that he could see that I was not a big fan of Bush (when he reached his arm over my Obama badge). Oh, well.
We arrived at the Monterey Plaza, on the historic Steinbeck Cannery Row—one of the nicest hotels in Monterey. They thanked me graciously and got out. I didn’t remember the name that they gave me, and so I hurried home and googled the information. My esteemed passenger was no less than Mike Leavitt, the former governor of Utah (for 11 years) and George W. Bush's Cabinet member for 4 years. Mormondom has no bounds for connecting.
They arrived in a yellow taxi, and I suspect that they wished that they had departed in a yellow taxi, but maybe not. All is well.