Your Turn, Mr. President

   SOMEWHERE OVER NEW MEXICO – On Tuesday, like tens of millions of others, I watched on television as Barack Obama took the presidential oath of office.
    And, after that, I switched off the screen and went back to my office and a full plate of work. And I hoped, before too long, the new President would do the same.
    As in the next morning, if not sooner.
    It’s not that I didn’t appreciate the historical moment, and the sea change we’re likely to face in government. I also don’t deny that Mr. Obama is someone with a keen mind and isn’t afraid to use it.
    And one final day to revel in his taking office is warranted. However, as I trudged onto an airliner to head to a business meeting the day after the inauguration, I didn’t want to hear anymore about the parade, the car, the outfits, the food or the dancing, or the literal millions of human-interest bits about people in attendance.
    I was going to work. And, by the time I sat in a coach seat in California for a pre-dawn flight, I wanted my new president already at the desk.
    We’re all part of a country facing tough times. I heard it in stories during the past few days about fabricators and vendors running operations with big numbers on the wrong side of the ledger. The words fat and gravy disappeared in favor of lean and hungry, and nobody was talking about food.
    I also walked through a Dallas office park where the new symbol of the times is the chained-up entrance to parking lots, which means the accompanying office building is utterly vacant. I looked out a hotel-room window at a barely-lighted building across the way, with 88,000 ft² spread through six empty floors.
    The planes on the way home on Friday didn’t have many empty seats, although flights were fewer and some 15 people used frequent-flyer miles to get last-minute standby tickets to Las Vegas. It’s not like riding the rails to look for fruit-picking work in California, like my father some seven decades ago, but it’s a different time.
    That’s why I wanted my new president to hit the ground and keep running hard. I’ll freely admit that I didn’t vote for him, and I know I’ll see things he’ll do that I won’t agree with. Whether any of the federal economic stimuli, whenever it gets here, will help the stone trade is uncertain, if not doubtful.
    But, for the sake of all of us, he’s got to get to work and keep at it. And I wish him a lot of luck. Meanwhile, whether its at the office, on the road or even on a jetliner head westward and homeward, I’ll keep working, because it’s what I can do to help out.
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