Sunday, March 25, 2012

If there was ever a night to skip, apparently last night was it. A heavy rain unleashed itself on the crowd at 2:00am, waking everyone who had managed to fall asleep sitting upright in their chairs.

The paid line standers had been betting against the rain, and were fully exposed when it started coming down. To make matters worse, the company that hired them never delivered their promised rain supplies, and most had few ways to protect themselves.

And at 4:00am the coup de grace - just as the rain had stopped the automatic sprinklers shot to life and drenched everyone from behind. Even one of the security guards was caught standing in the grass on top of a sprinkler head. When I arrived in the morning, however, everyone somehow appeared to be in good spirits. Dana was happy to be relieved of his duty, but turned down an offer for a hot breakfast.

By 10:00 the reporters began filtering in. Those in line who had declined to share their stories and viewpoints were now more willing, but the paid line standers were reminded of their explicit instructions not to speak with reporters (occasionally even by the physical presence of their supervisors).

The Christian Defense Coalition held a rally in front of the Court that consisted of a call to prayer and arranging flowers in a line around the Supreme Court while participants listened to religious anti-ACA rhetoric. It was a respectful protest, and the crowd was careful to stay on public property.

As the uncomfortable conditions wore our patience thinner, and the air continued to polarize, the line began debating the act. Many of the paid line standers have better stories than those of us who are there to personally attend: a 40-year-old man who has never had health insurance in his life and two young men from Africa and the Middle East who have strong opinions about the availability of healthcare in their home countries compared to that in the U.S. (hint: we don't win). Others refer to the law as a "driving the nation off a financial cliff" or a moral transgression. But despite the agitation, we have all made an effort to stay friendly.

The line is continuing to grow as we sneak closer to Monday. A head count at 2:00 put the number at 25.

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