In the rear of the Congressman’s cube farm sat two official-looking men in their late twenties or early thirties. Peter and I surmised that they were very important because they were the only ones allowed to change channels on the communal TVs.
Thing 1 and Thing 2 were The Congressman’s Legislative Assistants, and they probably had the most stressful jobs in the office; monitoring and drafting legislation, research, and briefing The Congressman. Usually, Legislative Assistants are young lawyers with higher political aspirations.
Peter and I were never acknowledged or asked to do anything for them, except once.
Thing 1 asked me to sit in on a legislative briefing on the environment and take notes. I went to a part of the Capitol I had never been to before. It looked like a hotel conference room, and senior legislative staffers from both sides of the aisle were there.
Staffers from the committee proposing the legislation handed out a packet of information and quickly went over the main points. I didn’t even need to take notes.
What surprised me more is that they had already laid out the arguments each side was probably going to take. It was idiot proof. This is what Thing 1 and Thing 2 did all day?
I learned two lessons from that meeting:
1) Looking stern, professional and essential is the most critical part of being a staffer, even if your job is ridiculously easy.
2) Forget the district offices; it is the committees with all of the power.