Sunday, March 14, 2004

Legally Red

Last week was to be my big Congressional debut, in a sense. I was given the intriguing assignment of going up to Capitol Hill to cover a briefing by the Human Rights Caucus on the situation in Uganda. Although I had something of an idea of the situation in Uganda (briefly stated, it's bad), I was rather excited to hear a Congressman's take on it, since I usually only hear from humanitarian workers in the course of my job. Additionally, being able to attend Congressional briefings as part of your job is really cool -- especially when you consider that six months ago my main job entailed folding pants.

So I squeezed my size 6 frame into my size 2 suit and informed the receptionist that I was to be on the Hill until four, just in case anyone was looking for me. If she wasn't as polite as she is, I'm sure she would have told me that that's all well and good but you know no one will be looking for you and besides other people in this office go to the Hill every day so it's no big deal you jackass. As it was she merely said, "Mm," which I interpreted as "Go Robyn go."

Our briefing was to be held in the Committee of International Relations hearing room. Other non-profit workers slowly filed in. I wrote the title of the briefing in careful handwriting on at the top of my page, and sat up nice and straight, waiting to journalize with authority.
And then we waited.

I figured the Congressman must be running late. Five minutes isn't so bad, and my watch was a bit fast anyway. I was a bit miffed that someone else showed up to attend the briefing in a sweater and jeans while I was causing significant distress to my digestive system in my merciless pants, but no matter. I would just make that much more of a good impression.
After ten minutes I wondered why the lectern in the room looked so dang shitty. It was terribly scuffed up, and one side looked as though it was pulling away from the others, leaving an unseemly gap. This was the Committee on International Relations, not Richboro Elementary School after all. Jeans girl was now chewing gum.

After twenty five minutes, I had tired of contemplating the lectern, people passing outside in the hall were looking at us with confusion and pity, and it was abundantly clear we had been stood up. There was nothing left to do but drown my disappointment in the creamy gravy of the pot pie at the cafeteria. As is so often the case in Important Buildings, I discovered that the cafeteria was way more interesting than anything else. The furniture was way nicer there than in the hearing room. I thought I saw Tim Russert, until I realized that just about every paunchy white guy in the room looked like Tim Russert. My only celebrity sighting were the "freedom fries" on the menu, but then they're so last year.

So my Congressional debut was a bit of a bust, pot pie notwithstanding. Sadly, I later learned that it's not all that unusual an occurance to have briefings cancelled without warning. It was a disappointment sure, but at least I looked good. Agonized and constricted, but good.