Pittsburgh without H

February 15, 2020

President Trump has decided not to invite the Golden State Warriors to visit the White House before the Warriors even had a chance to decide collectively if they would accept such an invitation. Many expressed relief as they do not have to confront this issue. David West, the man who gave up big dollars to sign with the Warriors expressed certain disappointment. He said, he would love to have that personal experience meeting POTUS face to face.

What is like meeting POTUS? My family was fortunate to have such an experience. It was 3 years ago that my family went to the White House to meet president Obama. My daughter, Evelyn, worked in the White House for two years, writing speeches for president Obama and other White House staffs. After she got married, she left the White House to work in DC’s school district office. As a tradition, she was invited to meet POTUS personally and she was allowed to take along her family members.

On September 27, 2014, our family went to visit the White House. The PEAR family now has one extra member - our son-in-law Michael. PEAR stands for Paul (that’s me), Evelyn (daughter), Ann (my wife), and Russell (Son). Five of use waited outside in WH’s lawn for couple of hours as president Obama was giving unscheduled brief to WH press corp about possible Iran nuclear deal. We then waited outside of the Oval office for another 40 minutes. It was Friday afternoon, traditionally a time reserved for the president to meet private citizens. There were about 8 groups ahead of us. Before entering, we needed to leave all our personal items including phone and handbags at the waiting room.

There was a small room between waiting room and the oval office. I could see the group before us was held in that room before letting in the Oval Office. When it was our turn, we were shown the way into that small buffer room. To our surprise, Mr. Obama came to the buffer room to greet us. He shook hands with Evelyn, then Ann, then Russell, I was the fourth one to shake hand with him.

I remembered telling him: Mr. President, we are the beneficiary of Obama Care. He replied: Thank You, pray for me please. His calm voice calmed me down as well. There were photo sessions. WH official photographer took pictures of different setting. Mr. Obama mainly chatted with Evelyn exchanging stories about speech writing. He turned to Ann and said: You’ve raised a wonderful daughter. Ann surprised every one as she replied, I also raised a good son, he is a high school English teacher, pointing to Russell in the meantime. Mr. Obama walked to shake his hand again. Russell said to him, hi.. Mr. President, I had to take a day off just come to visit you. My school could not believe I am actually here. What a family I have! They seem not deterred by presence of POTUS.

“Really?” Mr. Obama replied. “Let’s do this…” he walked to his desk, opened a drawer, and took out a small card on which there was a presidential seal. He pulled out his fountain pen (yes, a fountain pen, which probably has been used to sign many legislative bills.) and started writing: To Mr. Hsieh’s class (and everyone at Pittsburg High)….

Russell stopped him and said, Mr. President, there is no H in Pittsburg. Mr. Obama was puzzled… you mean I flunk my spelling class? Russell explained to him the difference between Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and Pittsburg, California. Relieved, he continued to write - and everyone at Pittsburg High - Dream big dreams, and with hard works, you’ll achieve them.

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