By Erica Setnick
Most of Philadelphia was excited to meet the pope, as the city was anticipating a large number of attendees. A few weeks ago, before Pope Francis came to Philadelphia, my dad and my brother won the “lottery” granting them access to Septa trains.
My mother and I weren’t originally planning on attending, until the pope’s website had another offer to get tickets to see him among 10,000 people. We tried once at 4 p.m., and were left empty-handed, as the tickets were gone within 28 seconds.
Another shot at winning “closer access to the pope” came again at 8 p.m. the same night. All of us were around our computers and all clicked “register” at the same time. My brother, mom, and dad all didn’t get tickets, but I was granted access. I ordered four tickets, printed them out, and started planning my trip to see the pontiff.
“Today’s the day!” my brother Sean exclaimed as he passed me in the kitchen holding a plate full of pancakes. “We’re going to see the pope in person!”
Sean was always more religious than I was, even though we went to the same Catholic school. I guess it was because I was older and could start thinking for myself and had a lot more questions than he did.
That being said, I wasn’t that excited to go see the pope, only because I wasn’t trying to go in the first place, and only went because we won four tickets. I won’t lie. When I arrived at Media train station, I felt my stomach fill with butterflies. My dad dropped my mom, brother and me off at the station and left to park the car. Around 100 people were at the station by the rails all waiting to board at 11 a.m.
Getting kind of worried that my dad ouldn’t make it, an officer came up to us and asked if he could help with anything. My mom told him about how we’re waiting for my dad to come back, and he said as soon as we see him he can get right on the train without going through security.
The train ride was very quick; they only stopped at 30th Street Station, and our stop was University City.
Getting out of the train station and walking around Philly was very surreal. I’ve only visited the city a few times, but seeing it nearly empty with only a few people walking in the street definitely made it seem post-apocalyptic.
Arriving on 21st Street, our hopes were high because we heard the line was only 45 minutes long.
Unfortunately, the line was definitely not 45 minutes long. My family and 800,000 other people had to walk six blocks to the security checkpoint.
It took us three and a half hours to get in.
After we finally had our bags checked and survived the TSA, dad and Sean were about 40 feet in front of us, across the street.
When mom and I were about to cross to meet them, a police officer stopped us midway and yelled, “I just said no others through!”
My mom panicked and said, “But my husband and son are over there! Please let us through!” The cop responded, “Ma’am, you’re going to have to change your tone and learn how to talk to a police officer because I am about done with everyone speaking to me with disrespect!”
My mom didn’t say anything disrespectful in any “tone,” so we just looked at her like she was crazy and my mom apologized; then the cop let us go to the middle to meet my dad and brother.
Now, my mom needed to use the bathroom but they were on the other side of the barrier.
Dad and Sean stayed in the middle and I went with mom.
I felt stressed out for most of my day, starting with the huge line of people, then security agents being rude, and then with the cop’s attitude.
To top it off, we couldn’t see the pope from where we were standing.
When we bought the tickets, we were expecting to get a seat up front by the Art Museum. Instead, we were stuck five blocks from the stage, next to the Franklin Institute.
The only good thing about that day was Sean and dad got to get closer to the stage and actually saw Pope Francis in person.
I could have stayed home and watched the pontiff from my TV, but at least now I
have a story to tell