How to Test Your Recovery, Secret Service Style

I firmly believe that God sends me a test each day to make sure my recovery from OCD and addiction is strong and, if not, to make it stronger. Yesterday the test was getting lost en route to Washington D.C. Today it was an unexpected grilling from two U.S. Secret Service officers.

Mood music: “Jailbreak” by AC/DC:

I wrote a full account of the encounter for this afternoon in “What it’s like to be grilled by the Secret Service,” so I won’t repeat it all here. That column is about capturing it from a security perspective.

Here I’ll focus on the emotional part.

First, the gist of what happened: I was taking photos from my BlackBerry of Marine One (with President Obama aboard) taking off from the White House. I guess I lingered there for too long, because the Secret Service thought I was taking surveillance photos.

One of them was pretty tough and didn’t believe my honest protests that I was just taking pictures and walking around there because I’m a White House history buff.

Apparently nobody ever showed him the picture of the Brenners visiting the West Wing.

I don’t fault him for this. It’s not his job to know these things. It is his job to nail terrorist activity when he sees it, and I don’t fault him for that, either. Could he have been a bit nicer to me, given that I was doing nothing wrong and all? Sure. But I try not to hold grudges.

Truth be told, the experience did freak me out. My back went into spasms and my hands shook for hours after. As I write this, my head still pounds.

But it’s all good.

I didn’t go back to my hotel room and order $80 worth of food and a bottle of wine to comfort myself. A few years ago, a friendly encounter with Secret Service would have made me do that.

My mind wasn’t paralyzed, either. I got a lot of work done back at the hotel, even with the headache.

One thing that amuses me in hindsight is that when they were grilling me, the big thing going through my head was, “I hope they don’t arrest me and haul me in. I have too much work to do this afternoon.”

I’m a typical OCD case, worrying that getting arrested will screw up the work day.

By tomorrow, I’ll look back on this and laugh.

Hopefully, the rest of this trip will be less eventful.

6 thoughts on “How to Test Your Recovery, Secret Service Style

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