PHILADELPHIA—Writing a scene report requires being invited to some kind of scene. On Thursday at the Democratic National Convention, I was not.
So I wandered around the Wells Fargo Arena, where Hillary Clinton would speak in a few hours, looking for the hottest spot I could find. From a distance, I saw a group of voters huddled together—maybe a cool club or friend group, I thought. In fact, it was a charging station. I stayed for 15 minutes to see if anything would happen.
4:10 p.m. - Four women are waiting while their phones charge. One man in a suit (maybe an arena employee, but I can’t be sure) is trying to plug in an iPad. He keeps trying to put those older fatter chargers into the bottom but I suspect he needs a littler, newer charger. I don’t help.
4:11 p.m. - He manages to plug it in! And then immediately unplugs it. Why? I observe it’s because he wants to charge the iPad while it’s wearing its little white leather outfit.
4:14 p.m. - A young woman in a white romper plugs her phone in expertly. She walks one foot away and stands there, staring into space and playing with her lanyard.
4:15 p.m. - Eight phones and one iPad are plugged in at this moment.
4:16 p.m. - This station is sponsored by AT&T (this subway stop is called AT&T Station, so I’m not surprised). I watch a bit of a commercial featuring construction workers. Think of building a home with your own hands, I’m thinking now.
4:17 p.m. - Three women are huddling talking about something that seems dramatic and interesting. I scoot closer to hear, but one sees and moves to stand directly in front of me. They are my enemies now. I am suddenly very thirsty.
4:18 p.m. - A woman in a caftan with a spotted bird on it is using her phone while it is plugged in, to text or maybe play a game. She is smiling. I wish I was smiling, but I’m too thirsty and scorned and occupied with home construction.
4:19 p.m. - A couple in matching Hillary Clinton gear asks me if I am waiting in line to charge. I scream, “NO, THERE ARE SOME AVAILABLE.” This is the first time I’ve spoken in what feels like an age.
4:20 p.m. - Blaze it, haha, I think.
4:21 p.m. - A woman is struggling to plug in her phone while holding onto a takeout container filled with half a wrap and half a hamburger (why?). A greying woman in a maxi dress offers to hold her box of sandwiches. This is beautiful.
Now this woman is helping the couple I screamed at. Why is this station so hard for people?
4:22 p.m. - Someone has come over to tell us chargers to turn on airplane mode for expedited charging. This is good advice.
4:23 p.m. - I just saw a woman in a suffragette sash and feathered hat, and became distracted.
4:25 p.m. - Somehow, there are only three of us now, silent, staring into space. At least I’m thinking about the nice Democrats who have helped their brothers and sisters charge their electronics. This whole time, my phone hasn’t been charging, but my soul has.