Calif. Governor's Door a Hot Spot for Tourists
RENEE MONTAGNE, host:
It used to be the highlight of a tour of the California Capitol: the ornate rotunda dome with its lacy plaster work and colorfully painted ceiling. Not anymore. Since Arnold Schwarzenegger became governor, the new must-see is the door to his office. And that's created a new post for California Highway Patrol officers: standing guard outside the governor's door. From member station KPCC, Tamara Keith talks to two of the officers about their new role.
(Soundbite of voices)
Unidentified Woman: Mr. Schwarzenegger's office is right there. You can tell by the big flag...
TAMARA KEITH reporting:
Clayton Brewer stands at the post they call X-Ray One(ph), wearing his tan uniform and his wide-brimmed Smokey Bear-looking hat. Officially, he's an officer with the CHP, but at this post, just outside the governor's door, Brewer is part security guard, part tour guide and part model. He's had his picture taken thousands of times by people from all over the world because he stands right below the gold lettering that says `Arnold Schwarzenegger, governor.'
Officer CLAYTON BREWER (CHP): They want to stand right here, right in front of the doors, make sure you get the governor's name in the picture. Nine out of 10 times, they want the officer, whoever's standing here, to be in the picture with them. And so we smile a lot and take a lot of pictures.
Unidentified Child: Do we still have time to get in the governor's office?
Off. BREWER: I think the last one is 12:14, so, yeah, you've got a minute. Get on in there.
KEITH: Brewer says it wasn't like this with past governors. In fact, this is the first time a governor has stamped his name above the door. Now everyone, tourists, foreign tour groups, school kids, they all want to get a glimpse of the Terminator-turned-governor.
Off. BREWER: A lot of times, for some reason, one person will camp out in front of the door with their camera. Somebody else will see it, and they'll say, `Oh, well, the governor must be coming out,' so then they'll do it. Before you know it, there's 20 people with their cameras waiting for the governor to come out of some doors that a hundred and ninety-nine times out of 200 times, he wouldn't be coming out of.
(Soundbite of crowd)
Unidentified Man: The governor's not coming out.
KEITH: And sometimes, there are false alarms. This time, a group of kids screamed like they'd seen Elvis when one of the governor's staffers exited through the door. Most of the time, Governor Schwarzenegger uses a private elevator to get in and out of the building. It allows him to avoid public hallways. His desk is tucked away deep inside a very large office complex, nowhere near the large wooden door where the officers stand guard. But veteran officer John Herb says most people don't realize that.
Officer JOHN HERB (CHP): They all want to look in, because most people's perception is that he's right behind this door, working at a desk. So that's what they're hoping to see.
KEITH: Herb says he gets a lot of the same questions every day.
Off. HERB: Have you met the governor? Do you ever see the governor? Is the governor coming out? Will we be able to see him? Can we meet him?
KEITH: Officers Herb and Brewer say they haven't actually met Schwarzenegger. They've been too busy protecting him from the throngs to say hello. For NPR News, I'm Tamara Keith in Sacramento.
MONTAGNE: This is NPR News.