Friday, June 05, 2009

Heard: Missing Link Between 9/11 and Saddam Hussein

Intern insists on having the last question during an informal question-answer forum with a high level official in the Department of Defense attended primarily by senior staffers (and one intern).

In-the-Know Intern authoritatively states that he is an “INTERN for Representative’s Office” and ferociously asks, as if he’s found the smoking gun, what the official thinks of “Cheney’s” recent comments that “9/11 and Saddam Hussein were not linked.” The Defense official demurely states that he didn’t think that there ever was a link between 9/11 and Saddam Hussein, and In-the-Know Intern proceeds to argue his point with the senior official. In-the-Know Intern finally realizes he's not getting anywhere, looks like a hurt puppy and sits down.

Senate staffers stifle their snickers. . . .

Spotted: Clueless Shoeless Intern

Yesterday, in front of the Library of Congress, I happened to encounter throngs of interns being herded off somewhere. After passing several groups of them, I noticed one particular female intern walking with two male colleagues. The girl was barefoot and holding her shoes in her hand.

I know how terribly uncomfortable dress shoes can get, but this is not the prairie, it's a big city, and wearing shoes is a must! On a city street, do you have any idea what you might be stepping in?

Now, for those of you who are thinking, let's just give her the benefit of the doubt, maybe it had been a long day, maybe she had just gotten back from happy hour, maybe there was some other adequate excuse, I have to tell you the clincher. It was 9:30am. Sorry honey, you are going to have wear shoes to fulfill your role in the office and to survive in a city environment, I think it's time to invest in a pair of comfy ones.

Heard: Pretention and Pins

I was at Good Stuff Eatery and spotted a pack of Hill interns. They were easily identifiable by their khakis, blue blazers, and red badges hanging around their neck. Given the lunch hour and rainy conditions, Good Stuff had a line out the door and there was quite a wait for food. Nonetheless, Intern #1, with his straw stuck in his ear like a pencil, repeatedly yelled "Where the hell is my damn food" and kept pushing through the line to ask the cashier what was taking so long.

While this was going on, Intern #2 was loudly telling the rest of his intern pack that his goal for the summer was to steal Congressman (actually used his last name)'s members pin and was going to wear it around the Capitol for a day. Needless to say, the rest of this pack all thought this was a great idea and began to develop a strategy to steal their respective boss' pin.

Spotted: Green Scarlet Letter

Two interns decided it would be a good idea to make fake ids, using goofy pictures they had taken of themselves and creating a template of a green staff badge. Said interns taped the fraudulent images to the back of their scarlet letters and apparently forgot about them. The next time one of these interns was asked to go to the Capitol, the intern absent-mindedly displayed their artwork to the Capitol Police Officer working the metal detector. The intern was detained by Capitol Police and the Representative's Office was notified of the offense.

Heard: Variations of Red

The Red Line was packed for whatever reason, but that didn't stop two interns from taking two separate benches, one in front of the other, even as people poured on the train at Metro Center. Setting their backpacks on the seats next to them, they continued their inane conversation loudly.

Intern #1: Well, I am probably the most moderate conservative in my office. You aren't more moderate than me.
Intern #2: No, I am just slightly right of very moderate.
Intern #1: My office has, like, a very conservative moderate, a very moderate conservative, and me, a conservative moderate.
Intern #2: I don't think you are more moderate than me.

Two middle-aged women hovered over their seats during the middle of this conversation, and the interns either ignored or didn't notice them until the women finally said, "Excuse me!"

They finally moved to accommodate the women after the train had started moving, but continued talking about their varied points on the political spectrum. The guy standing next to me just rolled his eyes at them.

Spotted: Cab Ride Home

Last summer in an East-Coast Senate office, we had an intern from a prestigious Ivy League school, who definitely fit the bill as a "smart dumb kid."
Proving the phrase "you never know who you're going to see, so watch your behavior," he was spotted after work at a Nationals game. It was apparent that he had a bit too much to drink, but what happened at the game is not the point, it's how he got home.
Said intern was living in Rockville for the summer. The next morning when I told him I saw him at the game the night before, he chuckled in an embarrassed fashion and went on to explain that he took a cab home after the game...not the Metro which was still running after the game ended. Apparently his friends paid the cab driver before they left, but he went on to pay again at the end of the trip.
He did not discuss or even dispute the fare, and paid the cab driver not $25 (which is still a bit much), but $135!
This happened in April...just the start of the adventure with this intern...

Spotted: Lost Gotti Child

I swear I might have seen a Gotti child on the Metro this morning. He was wearing acid wash denim jeans (not kidding), a sheer white oxford untucked and unbuttoned to the fourth button (with intermittent chest hairs sticking out) and a gold chain all accentuated by his red intern badge he was wearing around his neck.

Spotted: T-Coast

Personally, my least favorite thing about interns is their know-it-all attitude. This recent encounter with an intern friend of a friend really just sums up, for me, the attitude. I am polite to interns, and I do try to explain things about the city when I can.

Intern: So where do you work?
Me: [agency]
Intern: Oh, I met the guy who runs the [agency] at Tortilla Coast last week!
Me: ... You mean Dr [name], the [head of the agency]?
Intern: No, not him, the guy I met, like, runs it.
Me: Well what was his name?
Intern: I don't remember, but he runs it. Like, he's in charge of the building. He's an engineer.
Me: Uh, well, maybe you mean the AOC, since they own and take care of all the buildings, and have offices in the building--
Intern: No, he's part of the [agency].
Me: Okay, but, you see, the AOC is--
Intern: He runs it.
Me: ... Was it [start naming the few engineers who do work for the agency]?
Intern: No, it was none of those people...I mean, he runs it.

What was the point of her bringing that up except to brag about meeting some guy at happy hour at T-Coast who told her he ran the agency to try to hit on her? Please, tell me how my workplace runs, because clearly, despite my working with the men who could possibly fit your drunken recollection (by the way, none of them run the agency), in your week in the city, interning at a completely unrelated private company in a completely unrelated field, you know enough to argue with me about it.

Heard: Confessions of a Prior Intern

I feel the need to get this deep, dark moment of my past out in the open. During the Summer and Fall of 2005 I worked as an intern on the Hill. Like most Hill interns, one of my duties was to give Capitol tours. I was really eager to please, so I memorized the entire booklet I was given about the Capitol (the Dome is roughly 290 feet tall...) and worked out a bunch of witty remarks to accompany my tour. The kind of parent that thinks that riding on the Senate subway will imbue their kids with a healthy awe of democracy seemed to really like my overzealous, dorky good-nature. As a result I ended up giving a lot of tours.

Things continued to go well for me until one day, I was walking backwards underneath the Dirksen building talking to my tour group. I believe I was talking about the Senate supply room. I was so passionate about what I was talking about that they were rapt, hanging on my every word. The problem was, I was so involved in the tour that I forgot that when your walking backwards down a busy hallway in an office building that holds the people who run the free world, you should periodically look over your shoulder. So I slammed directly into a prominent Senator. To make things worse, my Jersey instincts took over. So instead of turning around before I opened my mouth, I blurted out, "Hey! Watch it!" I didn't need to turn around to recognize how badly I had effed-up because the mother on my tour turned bright red and laughed in my face. I have to give the Senator a lot of credit. I as babbled through my apology and tried not to puke on his shoes due to being totally mortified with myself, he chatted up my tour group and acted like I hadn't just stuck my elbow into the gut of the (then) Ranking Member of a powerful subcommittee.

There it is. I feel a whole lot better now.

Heard: Waterboarding

Conversation overheard outside of Dirksen Office Building between a group of male interns.

Intern 1: I like, wanna try getting waterboarded.

His intern friends: What?!

Intern 1: Yeah, like I feel like it would be totally grounding.

Alright intern, just because some journalists have tried this, in order to to write investigative reports/officially deem it torture, doesn't make it the new cool or 'grounding' thing to do. If you need grounding, try yoga.

Spotted: Crystal City Metro

I was riding up the escalator at the Crystal City metro when I saw a group of six interns riding down the escalators. This was in the evening and they were wearing their "going out" clothes, so they were obviously not headed to or from work, but two of them had visible red badges. The guy in the back of the group asked everyone to turn around so he could take their picture. When they were done, someone behind them politely said, "Excuse me," since they were standing on both sides of the escalator. They gave her a dirty look and acted bothered by the fact that they had to move.

Spotted: The Gamer

Typical Hill Intern responsibilities: Manning the phones, giving Capitol tours, sorting mail, doing research, attending meetings.

Typical Hill Intern privileges: Sneaking back into the office at night to play internet "second life-esque" games?

So apparently "Gamer" figured out that there was a secret hidden key for the office and proceeded to brag to the other interns that she was spending four to six hours in the middle of the night at the office playing online games, and tried to get Staffers to sign up online for the same game.

Her reasoning for why spending the wee hours of the morning at a House office building playing computer games was a good idea: "I'm getting to know the security guards here really well. They totally recognize me now." Oh, really? They recognize the intern that comes back to the office at midnight every night? Shocking. I guess that's a twisted form of networking? So, in true passive aggressive fashion, the other interns removed the hidden key and placed a note in its place that read "go home and go to sleep."

The next day they found a note written in response "Hee Hee I guess you know where the key is too."

There are no words.....

Spotted: Pizza Party!

Donning pink suits that would make Elle Woods proud, an intern in my office was quickly given the nickname "Tinkerbell" for her ability to flutter all around the office and wear enough bright colors and flashy accessories that she was bound to leave a glitter trail behind her.

Aside from telling us how much she spent on her daily cab ride to Rayburn because she "just couldn't do the metro," the pièce de résistance was on the Congressman's birthday.

Thinking that because it was a birthday there therefore must be a party, planned by her, she proceeded to order five pizzas for the office telling all the LA's that (unbeknownst to the Chief of Staff) there would be a birthday party in the Chief of Staff's office at lunchtime. The pizzas arrived and as we all (too late) lunged after her, she threw open the door to the Congressman's office without even a knock, open pizza box in hand, loudly announcing "Happy Birthday! We're having a pizza party in [Chief of Staff's] office!!" To which the Congressman replied (after a moment of awkward silence) something along the lines of "Oh, wow, well I think you'll have to do that without me."

Spotted: Cliffs Notes

Two red-badge toting interns sharing a copy of Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations ... Cliffs Notes version.

I won't bother elaborating further.

Spotted: Embassy "Attache"

Foreign intern in major European embassy in Washington. Intended boss is on vacation, so intern decides to take his place, including title. Intern makes his own business cards, including made-up title as "Acting XX Attaché." Intern at one point picks up a couple of 19-year-old girls and decides to bring them to the office. Passing by, Intern is witnessed sitting in boss's chair, feet on the desk, with his two fans sitting across from him, duly impressed.

Spotted: Metro Etiquette

Pop quiz, interns! If everyone and their mom needs to exit the Metro, but you do not because it is not your stop, do you:

A) Graciously step off the train to allow everyone to exit before getting back on;

B) Skillfully slip into a nook by the side seats so as not to be stampeded by the hoards heading for the door; or

C) Stand, entirely aloof, smack in front of the door so that those who need to exit barely get out before the door slams shut, leaving the few that followed option (A) on the platform and now late for work.

Unfortunately, I can’t verify that the kid I saw was actually an intern. He wasn’t wearing the Scarlett Letter. And it’s quite possible this Blog has got me thinking that every time a cherubic boy does something idiotic he’s an intern. Or, perhaps, it was his Obama pin, displayed proudly on his lapel. I think the President is great –just like every other Dem who lives in DC – but I stopped obnoxiously sporting my pin about a week after the inauguration – just like every other Dem who lives in DC.