The passing of George H.W. Bush, the 41st president of the United States, evokes this tender memory of once meeting him, albeit under somewhat embarrassing conditions.
My wife and I were staying in the Presidential suite at the Mendenhall outside of Philadelphia when the real President checks into the hotel suite across the hall from us. Let me try to describe the feeling.
Imagine you’re hailing a taxicab in busy rush-hour Manhattan and you steal the ride right out from under a guy who comes up huffing and puffing behind you.
Just as you’re about to claim your victory, you recognize your opponent is a former mayor of New York City. Yikes! Embarrassed, you say “sorry your honor, didn’t see you. The cab is all yours, sir, with my compliments.”
My suite story is similar only it’s true and the guy I was embarrassed to inadvertently beat out of a Presidential Suite was President George H.W. Bush.
It was October 26, 2000 and I had just checked into the Presidential Suite at the Mendenhall. Shortly afterward the President arrived at the same hotel where Angela and I were to attend the wedding of my cousin David’s daughter.
I’m remembering this after hearing the sad news of the death of the longest-living president in U.S. history who served only one term, but it was one of the most tumultuous in history.
His son George W. Bush served as president from 2001-2009 and his son, Jeb, was the 43rd governor of my home state of Florida from 1999 to 2007.
My true story involves all three of these VIP’s.
So there we were getting ready for dinner when we notice a lot of activity outside our hotel suite where nervous-looking men with wires sticking out of their ears are shuffling about and seem tensely occupied.
What’s going on? I ask them.
President Bush just checked in, one of the President’s secret service entourage told me.
OMG, I thought. And here I have the Presidential suite opposite his suite?
So I went back into my suite and hurriedly scribbled a note to hand to one of the Secret Service agents to give to the President, whose suite I was embarrassed to occupy. Here I was just a lowly president of a Florida condo, which was the satirical storyline in one of my best-selling books, “King of the Condo,” depicting life in a Florida condo where everyone’s trying to assassinate the imperial president, me!
In my note to the President, I offer to swap suites with the former President.
That evening upon returning from dinner we find a hand-written note slipped under our door signed by the former President himself, George Bush.
It reads as follows:
Tom, thanks for the note. Please vote for George in November – then Jeb two years from now. All the best, George Bush.
I framed that note and it sits today proudly on my desk at my PR firm, TransMedia Group, in Boca Raton.
Speaking of Presidents, my latest book,“Is there enough Brady in Trump to win the inSUPERable BOWL?” is available on Amazon.