So I had an interesting ride last night. Things started out slow in the east valley and I was pulling my hair out with 1-mile rides for minimum fare until I ended up by the airport. Things picked up from there and I ended up in the ritzier parts of the outskirts, which eventually led me to the JW Marriot.
Picked up a passenger by the name of Verna Jones, who was the former Executive Director of the American Legion, a veterans advocacy group — who has just assumed the position as the Legion’s Chief of Staff in Indianapolis. She also served on an advisory committee that Obama appointed her to and that she continued to serve on under Trump. She’s an attorney and served in the Army.
Apparently, something had spilled inside her suitcase and she needed to pick up some clothing for a meeting the next morning so we were on a 15-mile race to Super Target, the only thing open, before it closed. As we drove along, she asked if she could change it to a round trip if I didn’t mind waiting around 15 minutes while she shopped. Normally, I’ll only wait around 5 minutes when it’s busy (When I was a noob, I got burned on a short round trip when a guy left me waiting for 40-minutes in the parking lot while he was in a medical marijuana dispensary ) but it was going to be a 30-mile round trip and it’s been so slow due to summer, plus, I was getting ready to wind my night down so I said no problem. She wasn’t sure how to change the trip so I offered to pull over to take care of it — I’ve had to do this several times before — but she said I probably didn’t want to do that unless I was interested in the cops showing up. Turns out that she’s still a Class 3 Protectant due to her role on the White House committee and will be so for 90 days after stepping down. What that means is if there are unplanned stops along her route, security takes an interest — she had to enter a code into her phone several times along the way. She laughed and said if anything happened to her, she was so low on the totem pole that the Secret Service wouldn’t actually show up, they would notify local law enforcement and let them handle it. I guess at one point, she was rated as a Class 2. Being security minded, she chuckled and said that when she was with the Obamas the Secret Service joked with her that she was standing too close, and she replied that she just wanted to make sure that if something happened and they had to push Obama and Michelle into the safety of the bullet-proof limo that she’d lead the way and give them something soft to fall on.
When she told me she was an Obama appointee who worked with Trump, I asked her if that was like grinding gears and she was circumspect in her answer stating that Trump is fairly easy to speak with when one on one. (We left it at that and didn’t get into his decision making or policies or whether she thought he has tiny hands). She had initially offered her resignation but he had refused to accept it and told her he needed her in her advisory role as a veterans’ advocate because the Veterans’ issue was such a mess. She didn’t dish any political dirt and only mentioned how proud she’d been when Obama selected her.
Verna mentioned that she’d spent 360 days on the road last year and was looking forward to her new role where she wouldn’t need to travel as much and I can’t say I blame her!
She asked what I did and I told her I had been doing some contract writing and was making ends meet with Uber. When I mentioned to her I’d been fiddling around writing a book, she replied that she’d just finished one tackling sexual abuse in the military as well as addressing her own experiences with domestic issues — her ex-husband was a military officer (I believe she said he was a general, but my memory is fuzzy). The book is coming out in October and will be published by Simon & Schuster and I think the title is Fight Like a Girl (I believe there are a couple of other books by that title and I initially mistook her book for one of them — but don’t quote me. I could be misremembering her title). Anyway, I told her I’d be interested in reading it so she took my email and said she would send me a copy (whether a physical copy or an e-book, I’m not sure) — I realize she’s an extremely busy person, so if it happens, that would be awesome.
So while she shopped at Super Target, I chilled outside, sitting out by the door in the blowing dust. It was fairly nice out, minus the dust, comparatively speaking, after the last few blazing days, and there was some spectacular lightning off in the distance. When she was done, I drove her back to the Mariott and made the long trek home.
Good luck in your new role, Verna Jones!
*There is an unfortunate update to this story that you can read in my blog post How White Lies Topple the Mighty.
Interested in more of my work? Read a sample of Not Helping, a tale of addiction and the importance of communication! (It’s a work in progress)