I first met Paul Wellstone in 1993 on a rainy Spring night in Washington, DC, at 10 PM.
The Capitol was built on land reclaimed from a swamp. When it rains in DC, it rains buckets. So it was that night. It was late. No one was around. I stood in the "Hart Horseshoe," the area outside the Hart Senate Office Building where cars pull in and out to let Senators stay dry. I had no umbrella.
I had just given up all hope of dryness or dignity. I’d removed my new shoes and tucked them under my shirt, and I’d rolled up my pant legs. I was about to venture into the deluge when I heard a voice behind me.
"How many blocks to your car?"
It was Senator Wellstone with an umbrella.
I happened to know that Wellstone lived across the street from Hart. I’d seen him and Sheila walking to and from the office many times. So I told him that I appreciated the kind implication that he might walk me to my car, but that my car was parked ten blocks away. His response:
"We gonna talk or walk?"
He raised his umbrella over my head, and we headed off into the rain.
There's a great article in the Star-Tribune that covers the same themes. Everyone should check it out.