Changing the world

The convention tonight got me in the mood to post a flashback.

1992. Lucky enough to have nailed a job in my chosen field, I started work (the Grown-up 65-hour-a-week-kind) six days after college graduation. Decked out in my new career clothes, I entered the Operations Department at a post house in Washington, D.C. just as the ’92 Presidential Campaign was heating up. NO, not the post office! A television post-production facility. Where we finished National Geographic Specials and Discovery Channel shows and lots and lots of political campaign spots for then, Governor Bill Clinton (among other candidates).

Working with Clinton’s media agency was the highlight of my early career. They were our biggest client—and did most of their post with us for more than several simultaneous campaigns. There were about six producers (charming, handsome young men, who we called “The Greer Boys”) from the agency who came to supervise edit and voice-over sessions with us day in and day out – pulling long hours, always rushing to make sure the content was as up to date as possible before we shipped hundreds of dubs to hundreds of TV stations. These were the days before cell phones and e-mail were commonly used—so I got to transfer calls from George Stephanopoulos to Mandy Grunwald and rush faxed scripts to the sound booth. The faxes were marked confidential, and the truth is: I never peeked. I was so focused on learning my new trade that it didn’t occur to me what a big deal it was to have access to those scripts. I hate to admit it, but I was oblivious to the political implications of what we were doing. I was just serving our clients as best as I knew how.

On election night, the Greer boys included us at their agency’s party. Much of the evening was marked with the tension of waiting. As various senatorial and gubernatorial races came to a close, victories and disappointments shaped moments and conversations, but most of us were really just biding our time until we knew for certain whether or not Bill Clinton would become our next president.

When the news came in, I found myself linked in a tight circle of shoulders and arms with a dear colleague and our beloved Greer Boys raising toasts of tequila. They had made certain to have David Bowie’s “Young Americans” cued up and ready to play full blast. We hugged and hugged and danced and hugged. My favorite Greer Boy grabbed my shoulders and said, “This moment is so important! We have a new president!” All the elation lasted longer than the song so as soon as it ended the DJ played it all over again.

We were the young Americans and whether I knew it or not, we had just had a hand in changing the world.

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