The White House Collection

[Note: The events of this story actually took place in October of 1998.]

You might have picked up by past postings that I was purchasing a collection in Washington DC last week. What I didn't mention was where I was purchasing the collection. It all started two weeks ago when I received a fax from the White House. I almost fell down when I received it. It was from an individual that I had never heard of. With the letter was a long list of trains that were being offered for sale.

I actually thought it was a joke and threw it in the ‘things to do' bin until my curiosity got the better of me. I looked over the list more carefully and there were many very nice and hard to find MPC items.

One thing led to another and before I knew it I had put it through our collection tally program and came up with a number that I thought was fair. Then I faxed it back to the ‘White House', chuckling as I did. Sure, the White House wanted to do business with me. Yea, sure!!

A week later I received an official sounding call that Joyce put through to me right away. I couldn't believe what I was hearing as the man on the other end was saying that my bid had been accepted and asked when I could come to Washington to pick up the merchandise.

I didn't really believe him as he became very insistent that this was on the up and up. Finally reality hit, and I became convinced that I was actually talking directly to the White House, and that I would be purchasing the collection. I couldn't believe it. What an honor!!!

I have no idea why, but my first thought after hanging up after confirming the deal was whether I might see Monica. I just shook my head. What a thing to think!!

Yesterday morning I left town on my way to Washington, DC. This was probably my most exciting trip ever as I was going to Washington to do business at the White House. Wow, how can you top that?

I didn't sleep much last night just with the anticipation of where I was going to do business. I had been in the White House three times prior, but only on those tours with lots of other people. I simply couldn't believe this was happening.

When I pulled up to the gate I half expected to find out that this had been a hoax, but that was not the case at all.

After checking my van thoroughly, a guard got in the car with me and we drove through the gate. I was actually driving my van onto the White House grounds.

After parking, I was led inside the White House and downstairs into the basement. I made a joke to the guard about wanting to see the oval office. He wasn't impressed, and we walked in silence from there.

Finally we ended up in a part of the basement that was definitely not on the tours I had taken, and there in the center of the room were the trains. I was thinking to myself there was no way in hell that pile would fit in my van, but didn't say anything, when a gentleman entered the room. He was the man I had talked to on the phone, and together we completed a complete and thorough inventory of the trains.

I was satisfied, and was just about to ask how we would get the trains to my van when the door opened again. I almost fell down when I looked over, and there entering the room was the First Lady.

My jaw must have dropped to my knees. I had no idea I would meet anyone important. I wasn't sure if I should bow or curtsey or kiss her hand. I was totally speechless. I guess I just smiled and she smiled back.

She was very gracious and was very nice to introduce herself, and actually we talked about ‘things' for a couple of minutes. One thing led to another and the conversation led to me asking why she was selling the trains. I can remember her answer very vividly.

She had been so pleasant, but after I asked that question her face became sort of flushed and she looked at me very sternly and replied, ‘legal bills and punishment, they are Bill's. Need you ask more?'

I just shook my head in a short quick motion. I knew I had hit a sore spot, but wasn't ready for what came next.

Her eyes opened wide, and she looked directly at me. Then as she started to point her finger directly at my chest back and forth she gave a little speech.

‘Charlie, you simply don't look at me directly while you are pointing your finger at me and lie to me. I certainly hope that you don't do that. Do you Charlie? Because one of the reasons that I am selling these to you is because of your impeccable reputation for honesty. Something of which is lacking from other men I know. You would never point your finger at someone and say over and over again that you didn't do it when you actually did would you, Charlie?' She asked, still pointing her finger into my chest.

I backed away, because her digging fingernail was starting to hurt.

‘No, no. I would never do that. I'm pretty honest.' I assured her.

"Good, Charlie. I'm glad. I'd hate to see you mislead people in any way. I hope you do well with Bill's Collection." She said as she abruptly did an about face and quickly left the room as the secret service man followed.

I didn't have to do a thing from there, other than paying for the trains. They were transferred up to my van within an hour. I was very pleased to have a completely train filled van. I mean they couldn't have put another thing in. I even had trains in the front seat. And I was on the road home to Erie, Pa by 11 AM.

One thing that I learned from my trip to DC was at least I don't think you want to cross the first lady. I mean there are a lot of things that a woman can do to a man to punish him. But few that would hurt so badly as to sell his trains!

And the moral to this experience is that I personally would never look directly at you, pointing my finger at you, and tell you a tall tale like this. I'm just not like that. So believe me (as I point my finger back and forth), this really did happen, and this is not a tall tale!!!!!!!!!!

[Guess I should have published this one on April 1st huh? But I actually did buy a really nice collection in DC. And the house I bought it in was white!]

Charles Siegel (traincity)