Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Spotted: Bud Light Oversight Authority

Four interns sit down in my section and order four Bud Lights.

Me: I'm sorry, fellas, we don't have Bud Light. We have PBR on draft, though.

Intern #1: (sighs) Fine, four of those.

Me: No problem. I just need to see your ID's.

Intern #2: You don't need to see our ID's. We work for Congressman _______ from ________. (Flashes his red badge)

Me: Sorry, dude, but unless the Distinguished Gentleman from _______ is willing to use his oversight authority to make the $10,000 fine that we'd get slapped with for serving you without ID's go away, and give me a paying job when I get fired anyway, I'm still going to have to see them.

Intern #1: Wow, "oversight authority." That's more knowledge than I'd expect from someone with your job.

Me: And that's about as much ignorance as I'd expect from someone who agreed to lick envelopes for free.

Every customer within earshot starts laughing. The interns pitch a royal fit, call my manager over, and get kicked out anyway. The best part? Not only did I get a $20 bonus from my manager for doing my job right, all of my other customers tipped me at least double.

Thanks for buying me a the new iPhone, boys. Y'all come back anytime.

Spotted: Obstacle Course in Senate Gallery

Yesterday afternoon there was a vote on the Senate floor. Several interns flooded to the Senate Gallery to take part in the excitement. Most of the seats in the staff section of the gallery were full, with the exception of a few back row seats. Two female interns arrived and spotted the less desirable seats against the back wall, but instead headed toward the press area for a much better view.

The press section is conveniently located on the other side of a thick metal railing. These two brilliant interns must have thought they were pretty clever, as they ducked down under the railing, in their skirts, to get their front row seats in the press area. I am sure they were pretty proud of themselves when they tried to take their seats next to a reporter who, while shaking her head in disgust and absolute bewilderment, sent them with their tails between their legs to the back row behind all the interns who joyfully watched this entire scene unfold. Maybe next time these clever interns will take the hint that those metal railings between sections are placed there on purpose, and not just as an obstacle course or a jungle gym intended to make our visits to the gallery more exciting? Use your heads!

Heard: Lady Liberty's Height

A couple of summers ago I interned for a Senator. One of my fellow interns made a name for herself in numerous ways (many, too inappropriate to be repeated); however, her tour skills were second to none.

A large group of constituents (a high school class, I think) required three of us to lead their group through the Capitol, and I led the group directly behind said intern. She made her way through much of the tour unremarkably, pointing out all the standard tour landmarks. Her shining moment came when she was giving a rundown of the Capitol rotunda. (Note – during our orientation we were instructed to mention that the Statue of Liberty would fit inside the Capitol — to give a sense of the height of the building). As the intern gave her spiel she confidently said that the Empire State Building, not the Statue of Liberty, could fit within the Capitol. Not surprisingly, few of the students were paying attention, but their chaperones exchanged disbelieving glances. Nobody corrected her.

When we got back to the office I teasingly mentioned her slip of the tongue. She stared blankly at me, oblivious to the absurdness of what she had said (and only understanding after a lengthy explanation of the actual heights of the two buildings).

Heard: Nickname Mistake

I love your blog! Sadly, I have my own intern confession to make.

A few years back, the Hill personal office where I interned was pretty laid-back, and it was common practice to use the Member's nickname when speaking to other staffers. One day, I was sent to photograph a press conference where the Member (who was also chair - at the time - of a major committee) was speaking. The committee staff was making the rounds, and the Chief of Staff for the committee came up to me to be friendly. What followed was this gem of an exchange:

COS: "I don't think we've met. I'm [name], Chief of Staff for [committee]."
Me: "Oh, hi! I'm [name]. I'm an intern. Nice to meet you."
COS: "What office do you work in?"
Me: "I work for [member's nickname]."
COS: (very slowly repeats the nickname, trying to give me an out to self-correct)
Me: (perky, not getting the hint) "Yep! [I repeat the nickname, this time adding the last name... as 'clarification.']"

(long pause)

COS: "Ah." (Turns and walks away.)

About ten seconds later I realized my mistake. Needless to say, I took my photos and retreated to the office in shame as fast as possible.

Heard: Client Conundrum

Walking back to a political consulting/lobbying firm in town, two young ladies (with an obvious intern look) were spotted and heard conversing about their new gigs.

Intern 1: Yeah, I'm loving my internship - we do a lot of different work for our clients, so it's pretty exciting. Actually [insert large, well-known company] is one of our clients.
Intern 2: Wait, what's a client again?
Intern 1: ....I'm pretty sure it means they work for us.


Spotted: Mass E-mail Mishap

Earlier this afternoon, an intern sent a mass e-mail to hundreds of House staffers, stating:

"House speeches on State Department and Peace Corps Bill is happening now. On TV, possibly via internet—very interesting—and discussion on foreign service officers, etc!"

Spotted: Amused Member of Congress

As I was walking the halls this afternoon, I happened to overhear an LA raving about to her boss, the Congressman. She was so amused over it, giving the example of interns not knowing if they get C-SPAN in their states. The Congressman was just as amused.

(submitted by an intern)

Spotted: Lunch Line

House cafeterias at noon usually mean pretty long lines. Interns have caught on that there is a "members and staff only" set of lines. However, just because you have that fancy, red badge doesn't mean that you positively need to stand in that line as a sign of your awesome intern power. You can swallow your pride occasionally and stand in the regular lines for the masses...especially if the other lines are shorter. As I bought my food, I walked over to the non-staff line because the members and staff lines were a lot longer. But, I saw a line fully of shiny, red badges - with more interns continuing to get in the members and staff line...even though there were about 3 people in the other lines.
Oh intern season...

Heard: Red Line

Two interns and a staffer riding the red line this morning, discussing something being taped for C-SPAN.

Staffer: Yeah, it's pretty cool, and you can tell people that it will be on at 6pm in [insert sparsely populated state], either on C-SPAN or C-SPAN 2.

Intern: Wow. But do we get those channels in [sparsely populated state]?

Staffer: Um. Yeah.

Spotted: Congressman's Intern Survival Guide

Representative Don Young's (R-AK) Intern Survival Guide

Heard: Tennis, Anyone?

I work at a small political consulting firm and we really depend on our interns to help with our workload, especially in election years. We've also hired quite a few interns, most of whom go on to be successful in our field. One of the firm's partners started as an intern. Alas, not all interns are worthy of even a second day. In summer of 2007, we met an intern we fondly refer to as "Sleepy." On not just her first day, but her second day as well, she fell asleep at her desk at a workstation near the front door to the office. This wasn't an eyelids are heavy moment, this was full on napping while the main phone rang and folks entered and left the office. When our COO confronted her to let her know it was wildly inappropriate to sleep at her desk, she made the excuse that she had "mild narcolepsy." But she managed to stay awake for the rest of her internship.

Sadly, nap time was not her only embarrassing, unprofessional moment. Later that summer, she sent an email to the entire firm, including our COO, CFO, and partners based in other offices, asking for a tennis ball. When a coworker procured one for her, she explained that she had broken her tail bone and her physical therapist wanted her to use it for some sort of rehab.

The coworker said she could keep the ball.

Heard: I Don't Think You Understand

A former intern here who loves your site and have shared it with many old friends (all of us praying we don't see our own gaffes on here).

A couple of summers ago, I was one of very few chosen to work with the general counsel's office of an agency in town. The OGC had a number of sections and then obviously the GC's office which oversaw those sections. I was kissed by fate and was working for the GC personally. At a convention shortly before coming to DC, I met another member of this select group. She attended a different law school that happened to look poorly upon my own.

Through talking, we realized we would be working for the same agency. She inquired what section I would be working for. I told her I would be working in the GC's personal office. She said three times, "No, what section are you working with?" Each of these questions was asked slower and louder. I responded twice with a very similar answer and the third time said, "I will be working for the GC personally." She hesitated and then said, "Ommm, I don't think you understand that there are different sections we will all be working for . . ." and then went on to explain the different sections and what they did. I listened politely as she did this.

She then asked, "Do you know what type of work you will be doing, if you do, I can tell you what section you will be working with." Extremely annoyed at this point, I replied that I was going to be given projects by the GC personally and be reporting directly to that person. She sighed and walked away.

We arrived for orientation on the same day and when I was asked by the attorneys what section I was working for I told them I was working with the GC's personal office. The young lady watched their impressed reactions with a bewildered look on her face. When I arrived for a happy hour with all of the clerks later that week, another said, "[Ms. Smith] told us you are here to spy on us and report back to the OGC, is that true?"

It was a long three months.

Heard: White Lights

While waiting in line for the house gallery the other day, I overheard an intern explaining the clock and bell system. While this intern got part of details correct in saying that the red light meant they were in session, he faulted when he explained that the six little white lights coincided with the amount of time left in a series of voted.

This intern was going to have a lot more explaining to do when his group finally got to the gallery and learned that the house was in recess.

Spotted: Orange Line

Two interns on the orange line discussing the politicians they see during their lunch hours in the Capitol cafeteria and comparing the Congressmen who hold the door open for them. Obviously, they were talking obnoxiously loud enough for all to hear and to be impressed. No one was.

Three days later, same intern spotted at McFadden's, still dressed in his suit and tie at midnight. He proceeded to brag about his awesome intern job, flashing his red badge for his fellow out-of-town interns to see.

Congressmen may hold the door open for you, but you're still wearing a suit while drinking one dollar cans of Miller High Life.

Heard: Intern Travel Perks

My boss was asked to interview a potential intern as a favor to someone, and we were lucky enough to have an in-person interview with the guy. Lucky for me, my boss had said that I had to approve the intern as I would be supervising him all summer long. The guy came to the interview having read only the biographies of the heads of the agency and nothing else. He didn't know anything else about the agency, including what we actually do. It would take him 10 minutes to answer a question and it always included a rambling non sequitur for the first 9.5 minutes. After he left, I told my boss that I refused to work with him for the summer. However, she owed this favor, so we convinced a different department in the agency to hire him and said that he could be a liaison between their department and her office - to keep us in the loop as to what they were doing. He's been here three weeks.

The intern we ended up hiring for our office started on Monday, along with two new employees. We had an all-staff meeting Monday right before the end of the day. As we were leaving, one of the new employees asked me a question about the organizational structure of the office. The intern we punted to a different office spoke up and started talking about how we're set up and proceeded to talk about the work experiences of my boss, because he had clearly read her biography on the website. Unfortunately for him, he mixed her up with someone else at the agency, so the bio he gave was all wrong. I politely corrected him. Then he proceeded to explain a group affiliated with the agency. Again, I had to correct all the information. He still continued.

Then he made the mistake of claiming he worked for my boss. I quickly set him straight in front of the actual intern and the new employee by explaining, "No, you work in Division X. You're working on a project that my boss is interested in, so you're supposed to keep us up to date." His silence only lasted a minute as he asked, "But I get to go to the out-of-town conference where the stuff I'm doing will be presented, right?"