- The Bidens immediately greeted the White House staff upon entering the building on Inauguration Day.
- “Usually we meet them in the first days or first weeks, but never in the first minutes,” a staffer said.
- Biden has publicly expressed some reservations about being waited on by residence staff.
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Whenever the presidency changes hands, the White House residence staff undertakes a herculean task on Inauguration Day – transforming the private quarters of the historic building for its newest occupants within the span of a few hours.
For “lifers,” the staff members who have served multiple US Presidents, the traditions and protocols inside the White House have been an enduring facet of their lives for decades.
However, President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden upended a traditional interaction with the residence staff on their first day in the White House, according to The New Yorker.
After entering the North Portico of the building, the residence staff was assembled on the grand State Floor to welcome the Bidens.
“The Bidens came in and the first thing they did was make a loop of the State Floor and greet the staff,” a residence staffer said.
The gesture elicited tears from the staffer, who is unnamed due to their current employment at the White House.
“We were all very flattered,” the residence staffer added. “Usually we meet them in the first days or first weeks, but never in the first minutes.”
The Bidens reportedly approached each staffer member and greeted them with well wishes.
In response to a comment, President Biden reportedly expressed to one of the staffers that he and his wife were “glad we’re here, too.”
Due to social distancing measures, employees were spread out throughout the floor.
The residence staffer remarked at the difference between how Biden approached the COVID-19 pandemic and that of Trump, where staffers were all assembled in one room before the former president’s departure.
“It’s like night and day,” the staffer said.
During a town hall in Milwaukee earlier this month, Biden described feeling uncomfortable with being waited on by the White House staff, including a worker who “hands me my suit coat.”
“I was raised in a way that you didn’t look for anybody to wait on you,” he said. “It’s where I find myself extremely self-conscious. There are wonderful people who work at the White House.”