Alli Downs/”The Voice”

The inauguration of President Obama was a once in a lifetime experience that I was lucky enough to be a part of. For the most part, people were happy and excited to see an important part of American history. But my experience in the crowd of over one million people was a little different than depicted by the media.

My friends and I got onto the mall at 4:30 a.m. and were surprised to find that we were amongst the first few hundred people to get there. We were able to get as close as one could get without tickets. We were exuberant and could not wait to see our candidate. But soon more people came into the mall and we were all smashed together like sardines. After an hour of not being able to move a muscle we decided to move further back where we could have a little breathing room; that task proved to be easier said than done.

When we attempted to get out of the growing crowd we were met with rudeness and a overwhelming unwillingness to cooperate. People flat out refused to move to allow us to leave. We were at a standstill numerous times after only going a few inches. One female in particular locked arms with someone next to her and told me I was not getting through. After at least 10 minutes of standing in one spot, smashed against the people around me, making them as well as myself uncomfortable, I started to feel panic. I had never been trapped in such close proximity to others before and it was proving to be more than I could handle. I finally started telling people that I was going to have a panic attack and that I needed to get out. I pushed through the crowd and 10 minutes later I was out.

Later on in the day while trying to exit the mall I overheard many people saying to each other comments such as “You can’t shove me!” or “Don’t push me, don’t touch me!” I was amazed to see them treat each other with such hostility. There were over a million people in a small area; did you really think you were going to be able to do cartwheels?

It is not that I didn’t expect a lot of people to be there, it’s just that I thought all the people there would be as happy as I was about President Obama gaining power. Instead of being rude to each other, we should have been more than willing to help each other out. I expected much more from the American people.

I’m not saying that everyone there was rude. There was one couple I distinctly remember that we talked to while waiting for the mall to clear out. We could tell just by their faces that they didn’t mind standing in one spot and having people smashed against them; they were just happy to have been a part of the experience. They were even making jokes about how absurd the people around us were being. It was good to see such a contrast, compared to my earlier experience.

Overall, I had a great experience. I was lucky enough to see my favorite political figures gain power at such an important time in our country’s history. I was just a little disappointed to see the public treat each other with such discourtesy.