October 24, 2016 – Sun, 75 degrees
Miles Today: 16
Miles to Date: 18,437
States to Date: 45
Every presidential library reflects the nature of the man it portrays. Here is the letter I sent to the visitor email address after my visit to the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum:
I am a cyclist on a journey to visit the 48 contiguous states. Along the way I ask folks the question, “How will we live tomorrow?” So far, I have travelled over 18,000 miles, visited 45 states, asked thousands of people my question and profiled over 400 individuals and organizations about their view of our future. The adventure has revealed American’s innate generosity and trust.
I’ve also visited nine presidential libraries. On Monday October 24 I visited library number ten: The George W. Bush Presidential Library. I thought you might be interested in the reception I received.
I locked my bike to the rack at the bus stop along the main road. I entered the library courtyard, in my yellow cycling shirt, carrying a pair of yellow panniers. A gentleman in a blue blazer with numerous pins on his lapel approached me. “Are you delivering pizzas?” “No,” I replied. “Then what are you here for?” I told him I was here to visit the museum. He gave me a look of doubt. “I thought you were delivering pizzas.”
I proceeded to the security area. The first words from the guard were, “What are you delivering?” With little patience, I told her that I wasn’t delivering anything. “So what’s in your bags?” I told her I’m a long distance cyclist; these were my belongings. “I hope you know you’ll have to check them.” I said, “Of course I want to check them.”
In my cycling clothes I look no more like a delivery person than you do in your office attire. However, I do look very different from people wearing street clothes. The message that your staff conveys loud and clear is, ‘if you look different you will be treated with suspicion rather than respect.’
After visiting hundreds of public places and private businesses in my cycling uniform and being greeted with curiosity and good cheer by oil company executives, permaculture farmers, police officers, and homeless individuals, I am appalled by the unprofessional manner in which your staff addressed someone differently dressed. I hope you are as well.
The message of compassion expressed throughout the exhibits of the George W. Bush Presidential Library do not ring true after a person is so rudely treated by the museum’s staff.