Thursday, August 27, 2009

Heard: Meet Me at the Whore House

Since I started reading this blog, I’ve been anxiously waiting for at least one of my fellow interns at a prominent NGO in DC to do something idiotic enough to merit being posted here. This is a series of email exchanges sent to the office intern email listserv, using work email of course, between my fellow interns.

Intern 1: Hey Guys, There’s been some talk of Happy Hour/Dinner tonight so for anyone who would like to go: meet in the lobby at 5:00pm for Happy Hour at the Pour (not whore) House...and we'll grab some drinks there until like 5:30 and then head over to Tequila (or is it Tortilla?) Coast for dinner so that people who aren't 21 can join in the fun and don't have to wait around the office for too long.

Intern 2: WHAT? I THOUGHT WE AGREED ON WHORE HOUSE? See you guys at five ;) [and yes, it was written in all caps and in size 24 font]

It gets better. Today, we receive an email from the Intern Coordinator:

Subject: Please keep emails professional

Hello Everyone,

In light of some of the emails that were included in the string from yesterday, I feel it is necessary to remind you to please keep your emails professional. As I mentioned during orientation, you may absolutely use the intern email listserv to organize lunches, happy hours, etc with one another, but please keep the emails professional. Another reminder from orientation: I am not the only supervisor on the intern email burst. The other supervisor on the email burst is the organization’s Associate Director of Human Resources.

Heard: WMATA Fairy

One morning, a pair of interns sitting behind me had the following exchange:

Intern #1: I always put my badge on right after getting off the Metro. I get off at Smithsonian, and there are so many tourists. I wouldn't want to be mistaken for one of them.

Intern #2: Yeah, totally. They always gawk. I always make sure I look down [to seem disinterested in our nation's splendor?]

Intern #1: Yeah. I really want to get one of those SmartTrip-card-thingies. They're so cool.

Intern #2: Yeah, I hear you get like $15.00 free when you get one.

Hint: don't mock "tourists" when you call it a "SmartTrip-card-thingy" and think that some WMATA fairy gives you $15 of fare for free.

Spotted: Helpful Interns

I read your blog because of a dual interest in politics and foolish people, so while visiting DC last week I was keeping an eye out for any quality stories for you.

Instead, my only intern-related story is a positive one. Being from Illinois, I knew that Illinois' senators host a weekly constituent coffee, so that morning I packed up my toddler bright and early and we went to the capitol visitors center. We arrived at the room about 20-30 minutes early, so aside from a few other early-arriving constituents the only people there were a staffer and a group of interns from an Illinois office who were setting up and greeting constituents.

Before and during the event, all the interns (and staff, for that matter) were friendly, polite, professional and helpful to a fault; plus they were more than happy to tolerate and interact with my noisy 2-year-old, who had no idea who the old people were or why he should listen to them, and wanted nothing more than for his daddy to put him down so he could eat donuts and run around the hallway opening and closing doors.

So kudos to them for helping make our experience a positive one. And don't worry, kids, I'm sure you'll figure out the Metro by August or so.

Heard: Lost ID

"I am so super sorry, but I lost my ID. Can I get a new one?"

Heard: Partying Patty

I'm interning on the Hill this summer. A friend of mine and fellow Hill intern likes to party. A lot. Recently, she and some friends from her office crashed a staff party in one of the House Office Buildings.

She signed into the party as her office's chief of staff (who wasn't present at the event) and spent the entire evening wearing the chief of staff's name tag and introducing herself as that person. She even spoke on policy issues to other partygoers, saying that her boss supports universal health care (which he DEFINITELY does not.) She scheduled meetings between the Congressman and other partygoers for the next day. She yelled at the DJ for not playing Michael Jackson, got totally wasted, and took several bottles of wine with her when she left, claiming that "it's the Congressman's favorite."

Heard: Bacon is Like, Ham

(Girl 1, thick valley accent): "You know [like] when I was in Canada [like] they kept [like] telling me that I had a [like] American accent?! What is up with that?!"

(Boy 1 responds): "Dude, Canada [f'n] sucked! I ordered a burger and they couldn't get it right!"

(Several other boys respond in agreement… Canada does suck for their burgers)

(Boy 1 tries to take back the spotlight): "I mean I asked for a burger. And they didn't even have bacon."

(Boy 2 interjects): "Bacon is like ham there."

(Boy 1): "I know… what is that all about?"

Heard: Even GW Students are Annoyed

On Friday night, three of my friends and I were headed to a get together at our friends apartment. We were leaving from GW's campus and called 4-ride (a free transportation service from campus to various off-campus locations for GW students) to take us from campus to an apartment complex off-campus. When we got in the 4-ride van, there was already one other person sitting inside.

After the four of us piled in, he says (drunkenly, of course), "So are you guys actually all GW students?" Since 4-ride is exclusively for the use of GW students, we were confused by this question and responded with "Yes, of course, aren't you?" The other passenger then said "No, I'm a summer intern" and in true intern form, whipped out his badge. He then asked us if we had just come from a fraternity house. We had not, we had just come from a sorority house, and told him so.

He then proceeded to tell us that the fraternities were lame because his friend had gotten punched in the face at one. At this point in the ride, we came to his stop and he stumbled out of the van. The four of us as well as the 4-ride driver were all very amused and had a good laugh the rest of way to our destination.

Heard: Some Sage Advice

I was waiting to cross the series of streets between Russell and Union Station when a group of five or so interns walked up. As the majority of them launched, loudly, into a tale about one of their fellow interns, I assume, one of their number tried, unsuccessfully, to separate himself from the group. I understand why, conversations about casual sex really aren't workplace appropriate.

What was amazing is that it seemed the other interns didn't realize why he might not want to be associated with them. Clearly, they didn't know a couple important facts and considering how widely read this blog is I'm sure it'll serve to inform them.

I wanted to make interns aware that, yes, everyone on The Hill knows each other and, if anyone so desired, it wouldn't be hard to find out where you work and let your staffers know what you were discussing so don't act foolishly or discuss things inappropriate for the workplace. This is especially true when you are going to or leaving work as you are probably doing so at about the same time as people in other offices.

And further, when other offices' staffers hear conversations that amount to gossip well, let's just say, first impressions are impossible to do over. So, for those of you interns on this blog, it's unlikely that you'll be getting good recommendations from your staffers if they find out about your exploits and it's equally unlikely that when you apply for a job on The Hill that the office you are applying for will look kindly on you if they find out you were engaged in these kinds of exploits.

But that's just my opinion. Then again, I am in charge of hiring new staff so you might want to take my advice.

Spotted: Sweaty Feet

An Intern from another Senator’s office came in and asked me about something random. Then all of the sudden said, “Sorry, I need to take my shoes off, my feet are really sweaty.” She suddenly kicked off her bright red stilettos and starts to rub her feet all over the carpet in the front office! I couldn’t help but laugh.

Hint: As if this north-eastern state didn’t have a bad enough reputation already…

Spotted: Brooks Brothers Sale!!

[Editor's Note: As submitted by]

It was the summer of 2005. I was living and working (as an intern) in Washington DC. It was a summer full of great times and good stories, but one sticks out in my mind today.

It was a Thursday in mid-July when a male friend called me at work and asked if I'd like to make a "quick stop" with him at the Pentagon City shopping complex on our way home that night. Of course, I obliged, finding out later the reason for our stop was to head to Brooks Brothers where he could buy a seersucker suit. It seems Brooks Brothers decided that blue, yellow and pink seersucker suits weren't selling well that summer, so they were put on clearance. Ads in the paper, etc. led us to Brooks Brothers that day where my friend glowed at the purchase of a blue seersucker suit for less than $200.

The next day, this same friend delighted in wearing his seersucker suit. After all, it was Friday, he could get away with it on the hill. I watched him strut to the bus stop, stand with confidence on the bus, feeling stylish and polished in his new digs. That day, I had an early meeting on the hill (I didn't work on the hill, but for a lobbyist on Penn Ave.), so I rode with my friend all the way to the hill.

Getting off the train and walking to the Rayburn building, I don't believe I've ever laughed so hard. What we saw were at least 30 seersucker suits, in a range of colors, all walking to their offices heads down with embarrassment. Apparently every intern and junior staff member on the hill got the memo about the Brooks Brothers sale and they all proudly displayed their seersucker the next day.

That night, I recall my friend saying he would "never wear seersucker again" and telling us tales of being mercilessly made fun of by senior staffers all day. Those who strive to fit in somehow always manage to stand out, don't they?

Spotted: Need Bucket of Water

As an intern myself, I've learned to keep my head down. Don't ruffle feathers, do what you're told, don't get self important, and shut up. Most unfortunately not all interns have the same mentality as I do (this blog is a testament to that).

I was working for a Congressperson in a sizable office that had about 18 interns rotating during the week. During my first week, one intern in particular singled himself out as potentially the most annoying, arrogant, self-important person that had ever walked into the office. He would argue back forcefully with constituents on the phone, he would speak with candor about bills of which he clearly knew nothing about, he would even give out confidential information (I have no idea how he was privy to it, but apparently he was) to random people. Suffice it to say, he soon got a pretty bad reputation in the office.

A few weeks ago, this intern was told to 'man the front desk' while whoever was sitting there went to go get lunch. A few minutes into his post at the front desk he came bounding back into the office with a phone cord wrapped around his neck. We asked him what he was doing and he told us he was looking for a bucket of water. We looked at him, puzzled, and he began to explain to us (in an exasperated voice that suggested we were stupid NOT to know) that he needed a bucket of water because if he submerged the phone cord in water it would untangle. Then the Congressperson's Chief of Staff came walking up behind him and said "******! I told you you don't NEED a bucket of water! If the phone cord is really bothering you so much, then you should just get another one from one of the 15,000 phones we have in this office!"

He had ASKED the Chief of Staff for a bucket of water and then ignored her to go looking for one himself! I couldn't believe what I was witnessing.

I really feel for all of those Congressional employees that have to deal with people like this all the time. I recognize as an intern that we don't make your jobs easier, we make them harder. As a side note, this past week, the very same intern was forbidden from answering the phones after promising a constituent that someone would make him a CD with all of the current legislation being debated in the House on it! Like anyone had time to do that when the guy could have just looked it up on Thomas.

By the way, we made the CD.

Heard: Future Interns of America

As a Spring 2010 intern, I am thoroughly enjoying the blog.

I look forward to perusing the web page in the days to come.

Thank you!

Spotted: TFLN Crossover

(202): its official now. im not pissing on secret service cars with a senators inside anymore.

Heard: What, No Alcohol??

I was on the red line right outside of Union Station the other day, and overheard this intern girl on her phone.

Girl: So you are having a party this weekend?

Other person: ...

Girl: Are you going to have alcohol at the party?

Other person: ...

Girl: What? You are not going to have alcohol at the party?

Other person: ...

Girl: So we actually have to talk to other people there?

Yes, I think that's what people do other than getting trashed in some parties; they actually carry out a conversation.

Spotted: Red Ink No-No

Dear DC Summer Interns,

Our office has received a ton of applications for Fall journalism internships here in DC, but this one took myself and the other employees by surprise. Alongside his regular application form a college student had submitted one of his term papers as a writing sample. It was still drenched in red ink from the professor's markings.

In addition, the paper erroneously detailed the faith of our non-profit's founder, but the student apparently was so proud of the "A-" (talk about grade inflation) that he had sent us a report which furthered insulting stereotypes as a justification for us to accept him.



Spotted: True Life - Story of an Intern

Spotted: Chain E-mails

In our office, a non profit, we have intern that was fond of sending out all office emails. One time she sent one of these emails suggesting that the organization "needed to take our movement to the next level," she then forwarded a chain email but with no message in it. Seems she deleted the message part instead of the names/email addresses of all the people who received this blessed email before us. She realized her error and sent another all office email, again with the list of previous people who have been prior recipients and at the very bottom there was a link. It was a broken link.

Spotted: TFLN Crossover

(516): I just gave my whole company pinkeye. How's that for a summer intern's lasting impression? BOOYAHH

Spotted: Those are Stairs, Sweetie.

Having lived in DC for the better part of five years I have learned how right Mitch Hedberg is about escalators, they don't break, they just become stairs.

One night I went to a Nationals Game and after the game I stood patiently in line to go down the non-working escalator from the Grand Stand section to leave as I am about to step down this 20 something girl cuts in front of me and stops, perplexed that the escalator is not working. A little annoyed that she couldn't figure it out I told her "yeah, we have to walk down it" She whirls around and starts saying how rude I am and that I need to be more patient.

Just to get her to keep moving down the stairs (nee escalator) I apologize but she continues to complain how she's from the south and her entire time for this internship she has only dealt with all of these rude northerners and can't wait to go back down south. I can only imagine her on the phone with a constituent.

Heard: From London, With Love

[Editor's Note: this e-mail was sent from an official UK government e-mail address - to dispel thoughts of disbelief]


I just wanted to say thanks for the blog, it's kept a little group of us here amused all summer long. Internships aren't quite as formalised at Westminster and don't play nearly as big a role in political life, but nonetheless we've spotted some parallels with the (in their minds) "bright young things" who work as (poorly paid) researchers for Members of Parliament.

Most don't seem to be quite as arrogant as your interns and because they end up living in the city for at least a year they generally figure out stuff like standing on the right on Tube escalators. But the one thing that clearly unites the galley slaves of politics from both sides of the pond is badge-flaunting. Walk down Whitehall at lunchtime when the House is sitting and everywhere you look there are cherubic young men in expensive suits their parents paid for, wearing their badges for all too see, despite being told a million times that security rules forbid you from doing so.

Try leaving a Government department of any importance with your staff pass round your neck and the security guards will give you an earful, but for some reason these kids think everyone will be impressed with their little bits of plastic. So very, very sad.

Keep up the good work.