There have been a number of stories that didn’t find a home in my various blog posts but that were too good not to share, so I’ve been collecting them. It’s apparent that I’ve been influenced by a lifetime of reading Reader’s Digest because I do find that this post reads like a collection of those stories. Enjoy!
Introductions. Two Fellows learned the importance of being well-introduced to a Senator back in October when they started on their assignments. The Senator, given no clue other than the Fellows names cheerfully welcomed them, “So are you both interns?” One fellow calmly but assertively set the record straight, holding out her hand and saying, “Hello Senator. My name is …, I’m one of your new AAAS fellows, and I have a Ph.D. from MIT.” Have I mentioned that the Fellows are generally not a shy lot?
Forest Fires. My favorite fire story from the Incident Commander’s Blog of the Royal Gorge Fire in July:
Well, the predicted wind blew and the fire held. And as I promised we raised the containment to 50%. Remember this morning I said that Brenda, our Fire Behavior Specialist said, “today will be a good day to be a fire”. At the end of the day Craig Beckner, Operations Section Chief said, “it might have been a good day to be a fire, but we were better.”
Too Much Information? Our scheduler was having a conversation with one of the other fellows and apparently questions whether or not Walgreens had a presence in DC. Three of us immediately responded, “There’s one in Cleveland Park,” “There’s one by my house,” and “There’s one by my metro stop.” She just looked at us and announced that being in our office was like being in the middle of Google.
Terminology. One morning, the staff in the DC office of one of the Fellows were uncertain if the staff in the state office would be able to call in to the regularly scheduled staff meeting teleconference. The Chief of Staff explained that there was a protest going on at the state office. When he asked about the subject of the protest, he was informed the people were pro-immigration. The saavy DC staffers informed their boss that when you have a pro-issue protest, it’s called a rally.
Only in DC. One of the LA’s in my office reported being in the midst of a crowd recently and from one side, he heard a voice call out, “Marco!” There was promptly a reply volunteered from the other side of the group, “Rubio!” When I told this story to my fellow Fellows, they all went for that response as well.
Never underestimate a Fellow! One of my fellow Fellows had a run in with a staffer in another Senator’s office, who was rather rude to her. She mentioned the incident to her supervisor, who then mentioned it to the Senator. The Senator, who is very close to his staff, felt that this behavior was unacceptable, so he made a point of having a conversation with his Senate colleague when they were on the Floor for a vote and explaining that he felt this behavior was unacceptable. The offending staffer called the Fellow and said, “My boss and your boss seem to think that I hung up on you.” The Fellow replied, “That’s because you did!”
Elevators, round 1. As an ultra-cool Senate Fellow, I grew accustomed to seeing Senators regularly in the hallway. I was, however, challenged when I encountered them on elevators. In the middle of a vote, some of the elevators become Senators-only service, and I was strongly warned about getting on to those elevators during those times. At one point, I was ready to follow Senator Jerry Moran of Kansas onto an elevator, and at the last moment I realized that it was Senators only service. I stopped short, and I’m sure that my eyes were like dinner plates as I looked guilty for what I had almost done. Senator Moran was very kind, smiled, and gestured me to join him on the elevator, and I was most grateful.
Elevators, round 2. My complete failure at being an ultra-cool Senate Fellow happened when I was on an elevator, and it stopped to let on Senator McCain. I have no idea why I got so flustered, but in my effort to try to keep my cool Fellow persona, I got confused, decided this must be my door, and I got off. Of course, in the absence of Senator McCain, I realized I had gotten off a floor too early. So I jogged down the steps to the next floor, only to meet Senator McCain getting off the elevator! Complete fail on coolness for that day!
When Worlds Collide. I will emphasize that the following story came to me at least third-hand, so I vouch only for its entertainment value, not for its veracity. It seems that Jennifer Lopez (also known as J. Lo) decided that she wanted to talk to Senator Reid about immigration. She proceeded to keep the Senate Majority Leader waiting for 30 minutes, which is rather beyond the pale in the Senate. Meanwhile, I’m told that Senator Schumer was very interested in meeting the diva and he lurked in Senator Reid’s outer office until the star showed up. Unfortunately, it became obvious that Senator Schumer was under the impression that he was meeting Beyonce rather than J. Lo and the error was apparent to the observers. As the balancing side of “when worlds collide,” Ms. Lopez spied a photograph of former Majority Leader Tom Daschle and asked, “Why do you have a picture of Dick Clark in your office?
Interns. If you choose to ask your Senator or Member of Congress for a tour of the Capitol instead of going through the Capitol Visitors Center, there are advantages and disadvantages. On the bright side, you don’t end up on a tour with 74 of your closest friends and all of you wearing headsets so you can hear your guide. On the other hand, your tour is given by interns from the office, and some are definitely better than others. Here are a few intern gems from other offices that I’ve heard about:
“The mural around the Rotunda was painted by a guy named Constantidi.” (The correct answer is Constantino Brumidi.)
“This white marble star set into the floor of the Crypt marks the center of DC and divides the city into quadrants. I think there are four or five of them.”