Of course, I’m going to miss having an office to myself. My desk here is one of six tiny cubicles. I got comfortable in the high-backed black, executive chair, as Octavia showed me what was what and what was where where on the computer.
“The first thing you’re going to do in the mornings is go to the Morning Whip’s schedule to see what’s on the floor. Anytime Madame Senator has a bill in committee, even if it’s a subcommittee, she’ll want you to do a press release,” Octavia said. “Even if they’re only marking up her bill, and even if it’s the same bill she’s been introducing, and re-introducing every year since she’s been here, she’ll want you to do a press release. ” The LD probably will tell you a day or two in advance, but sometimes things get so hectic, they might miss it, and you don’t want to be caught unaware.”
“L.D.?” I asked, as she stood over me, pointing at the computer screen, motioning me to scroll down to the “Daily Whip,” a schedule of the bills Senators will debate.
“Legislative Director,” she said. “Billy is the L.D. He’s here, but he went downstairs to get breakfast. Billy’s usually here by eight, but the office doesn’t open officially until nine. You’ll like Billy. You’ll like everybody here, pretty much,” she said. Without digressing, she continued showing me what else I needed to know.
“Once you see what’s on the Floor Agenda for the day, go to Madame Senator’s web site and see what she has already said about that issue and print those previous press releases out for her. Pull up her web site, so I can show you where the major pieces are because they don’t always come up in a keyword search,” she said.
I typed in the web site address as she continued to instruct, rapid-fire, jumping from the list she held to reminders that occurred to her as she spoke.
“I better write this stuff down,” I said, opening desk drawers in search of a notepad.
“Oh, while, we’re at it, let me show you where the supplies are.”
I got up and followed her to a tiny office space crammed with a desk, a printer, and shelves of disorganized old and new ink pens, folders, notepads, and boxes of paper clips.
I scribbled, “Check The Daily Whip,” on a note pad as we walked back to my desk. “The Daily Whip” is sent from the office of the “Whip,” the Congress member elected by his colleagues to “whip” folks into shape.
“A Black guy’s the Whip?” I said, proudly remembering much hoopla made about Congressman John Clyburn’s becoming the first Black Majority Whip. Octavia shook her head.
“That’s on the House side,” she said. “Baby steps. Two flies in the buttermilk are about all this side can handle. Now, the House side, that’s another story. We finally got a little pull over there.”
I nodded, staring at the screen. I told her I wrote an article about the CBC last year. “Congressional Black Caucus members chairing four of the main committees,” I said. “About to have a Black president, too. I’m going to volunteer over at the DNC…”
She said I wouldn’t have time for that.
“This right here is not a job, it’s a way of life,” she said.
- Describe a time (a year, or a period in your life) where you spent most of your time on your career. Did your relationships with family and friends suffer?
- Were your professional accomplishments worth the sacrifices to your personal relationships? Explain your answer. (For instance, I lost my husband but I helped find a cure for cancer.)
- Describe your work-life balance, or one you would be happy with. (For instance, your balance is grinding eight hours a day, five days a week, then spending evenings and weekends with your family; or it may be grinding round-the-clock nine months of the year, vacationing with your family for three month; or it may be an understanding you have that you will grind for 30 years in your career, then retire from full-time grinding and work projects at your leisure.)
- What is your plan for a better work-life balance? (If you are happy with the balance you have, could you better communicate this to your family and friends who may need a better understanding?