Summer is the best time to be an intern on the Hill. There are tons of co-eds hooking up, legislation is quiet, and famous journalists and politicians line up to speak to the civic and sex-minded young Americans willing to give up their summer break.
Peter and I hit the tail end of the summer and didn’t get to enjoy any of it.
When we visited other offices, the interns had most mundane tasks: opening mail, giving constituents tours of the Capitol, running letters between buildings to be signed.
We were lucky.
Instead, Archie punted his own work on us so he could sit in his office, read the paper, eat a sugary doughnut and violently shake.
Peter and I had the opportunity to write and distribute press releases, congressional record statements, craft general correspondence, do constituent polling and conduct opinion collection.
It was fantastic.
Exactly what a real internship should be; we were close to the action and that’s what we wanted.
It also gave us a practical advantage over our classmates, allowing us to elaborate and give first-hand experiences on the day-to-day operations of Congress during class time.
There is always a flip side and that was Archie. He had to approve every word we ever wrote, which is fine except I would have rather had Simon Cowell holding the red correction pen.
Once I accidentally addressed something to Glen Frey instead of Glen Falls. Instead of yelling, he mocked me! Archie bounced around the office squealing that I couldn’t tell the difference between a town and a member of the Eagles!
Everyone ignored him which only encouraged him to repeat it and with a higher pitch.
Sometimes the things we labored over received the most criticism, while the throwaway work got the largest praise.
I had to send regrets to an invitation for The Congressman to the opening of a new pet store. Archie wanted a formal letter sent with The Congressman’s apologies. Is this what Archie would be doing if we weren’t there?
I tried my hardest, praising free economy and support for small business, but it all sounded like crap. Archie signed The Congressman’s signature without a marking it up first and gave me the approval to send.
I hope I’m not in any way diminishing the carefully framed letter from The Congressman hung ceremoniously in the pet store; but if you’ve ever received anything similar, I’m sorry to tell you it was written by a hung-over twenty-year-old.
May I suggest hanging your Sourtoe Cocktail Club Certificate there instead?
This is where Peter was my godsend. While I took everything personally, he let everything slide off his back. Peter’s confidence was infectious and it got to the point where we were able to laugh when Archie yelled at us, and gang up on him when we needed something.
That’s how we learned to communicate with Archie; you give him a little sh*t, and he’ll like you a lot more for it.
It was completely out of my comfort zone when dealing with authority figures, but I followed Peter’s lead. While going to work before Peter was unbearable, with him it was downright enjoyable.