D.C. is not like your average college campus where there is a 50/50 divide in the political sphere…
Well, or like Hope College, where a good majority is made of conservatives.
This place is swarming with progressive thinkers; which may imply that it is dominated by liberals, but that is not the case. There are many intellectuals coming from various backgrounds, defending opposite stances on different platforms. In many ways it is like a chess game, but for me, it has been more of a playground where I am just hanging out while binge-listening to Mott the Hoople or The Doors. After all, I am the new kid in town, so it is perfectly okay that I was half-an-hour late to a date… Right? No? Oh…
Granted, I have this amazing gift of not taking the right turns and not being able to say the right things. For example, as a normal human would apologize for being late and blame it on the public transportation, I, on the other hand chose saying, “I’m an idiot with no sense of direction. I took a left instead of right and kept going until I hit the White House.” WHO says that?!
So, after numerous attempts to be graceful, I put together a “for the love of all things… Just, don’t” list for you, so you, dear reader, don’t have to make a complete idiot out of yourself.
Here is the top 5 of the list:
1. DON’T gush over yours or someone else’s job.
Not that I ever praised my job (I’m an intern, let’s not forget that) but in all honestly I hate it when other interns do that. Seriously, you probably do research, fact-checking, briefing and stuff; what could make your daily tasks so cool? If you are on the Hill, you are probably answering the phone. Some people in this town are actually doing awesome things like breaking news or putting together a legislation. Doesn’t mean you should totally lose your cool in the middle of a restaurant and say, “what do you mean you were talking to Biden the other day” in a very, very loud tone. Not that it will turn heads out of curiosity, but you will get mean stares from ladies with pearls for being loud. They will also wonder, like you’ve been wondering this whole time, what you are doing at that two-Michelin star restaurant. I mean, you don’t even have a Birkin bag, just saying.
2. DON’T assume anything.
Work, romantic stuff, political stance, where you are going to meet someone… Don’t assume or jump to conclusions. For work, if you are not sure what your boss wants from you, have them break it down for you just so you don’t have to lose time working on this ONE draft while all along all they wanted was a memo.
If you are seeing someone, be clear on where you stand. Just because you are or aren’t casually dating other people doesn’t mean they are doing the same. Also, during my time here, I’ve run into the weirdest combos. Like a libertarian working for a liberal place or a liberal working for a conservative member’s office… Never treat someone like a Discovery Chanel reporter who just came across a rare species. It’s rude. Not to mention, please clarify where, how, and for what you are meeting a person.
In the metro and at the metro mean different things and you don’t want to keep someone waiting for you out in the cold for 10 minutes just because you decided to wait inside. Plus just because you are meeting a person on a Sunday morning does not mean it will be just coffee, clarify where that place is and if it is more of a brunch kind of thing. When in doubt, don’t wear NB shoes, wear flats or moccasins.
3. DON’T ask someone “which” company they work for.
Most of those places are contractors for different agencies. If they pretend that they never heard your question, then just move on rather than pressuring them more with, “… hahah that’s a funny story. But, um, so what company do you actually work for?” It’s usually better if you just don’t know.
4. DON’T think you have plenty of time.
One of the things I discovered very shortly after I started working at the department is that the metro is never going to be your best friend and that lunch breaks are really not that long. Technically you get an hour of break everyday, but then again if your boss is in their room attending a meeting, just stay chained to your desk until they are done in there. If the meeting gets out, your boss needs something from you, and if you are gone for whatever reason, you lose brownie points. I’ve been doing pretty well until this point so we’ll see if I can keep timing my bodily needs according to the meeting schedule.
5. If you can’t hear something DON’T nod and smile.
The chances that they are asking you where you work or if you hate Washington yet and you don’t want to nod to either of those. Keep your receptors ON. Especially if you don’t want people to think that you’re a complete idiot. Also, not to mention, you should probably attentive to the conversation anyway but please DON’T ear drop in other people’s dialogues, especially if you can’t keep a poker face. One time I heard something I shouldn’t have and I almost burst my drink out of my nose. It was a very unpleasant feeling. It was also very explanatory to the person who asked me if I would consider becoming a politician… I clearly am terrible at keeping a poker face and lying, so I should probably only work for the politicians, since I am as loyal as a puppy too.