Yesterday was not only the monumental Supreme Court decision regarding the national legalization of same-sex marriage, it was as well a monumental day in my summer: that being, my last day as a “Hilltern,” or an intern working on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.
For the last 26 days, I’ve had the opportunity to work in David Jolly‘s, AKA my uncle’s office on Capitol Hill. I’ve taken calls, given tours, and recorded requests from constituents in the 13th Congressional district of Florida. As I was away from my parents for such an extended period of time, my mother assigned a piece of homework to finish while on my trip: to record my experiences in forms of diary–I mean, journal–entries a few times throughout my trip.
What follows is the raw, unedited messages I’ve sent–in journal format–to my mother for the past month. I hope you have fun reading my memoirs, “Diary of a Wimpy (DC) Kid,” by Connor Rothschild. Enjoy!
June 2, 2015 – Day 1
On day 1, I arrived and went straight to the Capitol. After staying in David’s office for about an hour, we went to a GOP fundraiser hosted by an international cigar company. There, I met Kevin McCarthy, Majority Leader, and other important political figures. This was fun and really created high expectations for the rest of the trip. My living quarters were not as expected. From my memory, the scenario was myself and 2-3 people living in a house together, with me receiving the entire basement. Upon my arrival, I was surprised to find out I was one of 6 residents, not including the 2 cats that lived there as well! I shared the basement with two college students, both girls. They lived in the room, and I in the somewhat private living room, but awkward nonetheless!
Connor Rothschild, New Intern
June 3, 2015 – Day 2
On day 2, I went to the Capitol bright and early, and I was picked up by David’s Chief of Staff. Early in the morning, I listened to David do an XM radio interview about Obamacare. Directly following, I followed David to do a friendly hockey-themed photoshoot with Congressmen from Chicago to create excitement for the two cities’ teams’ upcoming competition. There, Nancy Pelosi “dropped the puck,” and I met her as well. Later that day, I saw John Boehner as he was taking a photo with David, so you could say my day was filled with leaders from all over the political spectrum. I’m really thankful David has tried his hardest to include me in all of his activities, and was quick to introduce me to all of his big-deal politician friends as the “Debate National Champion in FBLA.” As it relates to my basement, Marge and her housemates have been very accommodating to my needs and friendly, although the cats have been quite the opposite.
June 4, 2015 – Day 3
Day 3 introduced what business as usual would truly mean for this trip. It started off as I was assigned to my permanent “office,” AKA the print room which hosted the symphony of noise provided by the printer, fax machine, and A/C vent. Granted, it was all for me, probably because no one else wanted to sit in a60 degree office! I had my first tour, in which I just followed a trained tour guide around to see what to do. I also had my first experience of listening to constituents on the phones, and hearing senior Floridians rant for hours on end about the infamous Barack “Hussein” Obama’s purposefulruining of our country. Uncle David left the office to go to the district at about noon, so I had a “snack supper” that night (AKA Goldfish and Oreos). At this point, Dad had proposed my moving out from Marge’s place and into Jessica’s. He figured while on the phone with me, that being alone down there and being disconnected from anyone I really knew could create a risk of loneliness or depression. In hindsight, I think he made a good decision in sending me to Jessica’s.
Thanks for reading,
Connor Rothschild, Hilltern (I just learned that term)
June 5, 6, and 7, 2015 – Day 4, 5, and 6
This weekend was incredibly lazy. After a relatively normal day at work on Friday, Dad and I went to a Washington Nationals’ baseball game. It was fun, but I got my wallet stolen temporarily. The guy who took my wallet took all of my cash (roughly $100), and I guess in a sudden change of heart, decided to give it back, turning it into customer service. I guess you win some and you lose some, if “some” is related to money. Afterward, Dad and I came home, he slept on the couch and I slept in my new room in Jessica’s (and her boyfriend, Nick’s) house. This room is more private, but about a third of the size of my original room in Marge’s home. Different, but cozy. That Saturday, I slept in until 3 PM and spent the remainder of my day in my room learning how to play the ukulele. As for Sunday, read the previous sentence a second time and you’ll get a good summary for the day.
Connor Rothschild, expert at listening to people rant on the telephone
June 8 – Day 7
Today was a normal day. David’s still gone, nothing special is happening in the office. More and more I’m losing my patience with some constituents that call to complain. Whoever said ignorance is bliss is incredibly wrong, because these callers are both angry AND uninformed. A lot of people that call treat David like Superman, thinking he holds the magical key to solving all of the United States’ problems. I think it accurately portrays a lot of people’s somewhat glorified perceptions of politicians. Although they’re more powerful than us, the emphasis in the word “Congressman,” should be “man,“because at the end of the day, they’re only human. It just shows how much faith we have in certain people, who often can’t do much about these things out of their control. In other news, I’ve finally successfully memorized all of the other staff members and interns’ names in the office. For clarification, there’s 5 other interns in the office, so much so that the others take shifts and alternate showing up to work daily.
Running out of closings,
June 9 – Day 8
I gave my first tour alone today. It was a lot of fun and I felt like I was not only informative, but like I was doing a presentation to an engaged audience the entire time. It’s fun to tell people about things they don’t know, and even better to see the Capitol’s ins and outs. Other than this, the day was still normal. My workday consists of me showing up at 8 AM, and leaving at 6 PM. Accounting for commute, it’s an 11-hour work day. Pretty crazy, and quite monotonous work. When I was explaining my job to dad, I used the phrase, “I work for 11 hours a day, but I’m only working during half of those hours.”
June 10 – Day 9
David’s back! Got to watch a meeting with David and the “Scubanauts,” a high school organization dedicated to funding space and ocean research and exploration. It was rather strange, I guess people in Florida really like their water and have interests in infinity and beyond as well. I got invited by the other interns to go to the Congressional Baseball Game tomorrow night, in which Republicans play Democrats for bragging rights. I’ll probably go, it seems interesting and a good communal opportunity. I leave for Speech and Debate Nationals this weekend, and its crazy to see how fast time is going by here in DC. I guess time flies when you’re having fun, or in my case, when you spend half your day listening to technologically-challenged old people try to work a phone, and the other half writing emails to your mother and learning how to play the ukulele.
That’s all for now! I’ll email you more as time progresses. Thanks for recommending I do this email journal. In spending the hour or two writing this message, I realized that I don’t want to forget these memories. Love you!
Until next time,
Connor Rothschild, AKA DC Intern, Ukulele Extraordinaire, Nephew of Congressman David Jolly, Professional Email Journal Writer, Your Son
June 11 – Day 10
Dear Mom (and whoever else may be reading this),
Tonight I attended the Congressional Baseball Game. To no one’s surprise, the Democrats won, for the 7th consecutive year (rigged?). They can win tonight, we can win in 2016–and I don’t mean just the baseball game. Tonight I bonded with other interns and staff members, and got to meet people from other offices. Although everyone over 21 was drunk by the end of the night, it was still fun to go out for a night and be social. I think I’m getting used to the routine of how life in DC is going, work and elsewhere. At work today, I had a 45 minute phone conversation with a man who told me his entire disastrous life story from cradle to now, and listened to him end the last 15 minutes of the call in tears. It was incredibly sad, and even worse that I knew I couldn’t do anything to help except just listen. On a better note, I was emailed today about a free invitation to the “Road to Majority” conference, in which every GOP presidential candidate is speaking. On the note which was worst of all, it turns out this conference is June 18-20, the time in which I’ll be in Dallas for Nationals. This was a bummer because the conference seems like a really good experience, but I can’t go. All in all, I think I’m starting to like DC more and more, although I get tired of work throughout the day. If I were given the option right now, I would probably extend my time here for a couple weeks because I’m enjoying this experience. I leave for debate nationals this Sunday, so I won’t be writing during that time.
Connor, AKA the guy who already ran out of cool nicknames to call himself in the closings of his letters
June 23, 2015 – Day 22
This is my third, and possibly one of my last, journal entries as it relates to my time to Washington. Yesterday, I arrived back from Dallas, Texas, in which I participated in the National Speech and Debate Association’s National Tournament. Although I wasn’t as successful as I would have hoped, I was an octofinalist (Top 80 of 600) in Impromptu Speaking. Impromptu was my “consolation event,” meaning that once I was eliminated from my main event, and subsequently my “supplemental event,” I would go onto my third choice: Impromptu Speaking. It was a great opportunity to revive my competitive spirit, but more importantly, an experience in which I had fun. We stayed in the Embassy Suites, which was a great hotel, except for the “bed bug infestation” (we only saw one, and I think it was a tick) that occurred in our room. After we dealt with the issue ourselves–by simply ignoring it, because we’re high school boys–we proceeded with our trip. After two days of grueling competition (seriously, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.), we came home and went to a Central friend’s room. We stayed here until about 2 a.m. and just hung out, however our hangout was briefly interrupted at roughly at 11:30 when the power in the hotel went out. As every light in the building went out, it slightly resembled something you would see in a horror movie, if the main characters were nerds who talked and discussed politics in their free time. Thankfully, the lights came back on at about 3:30 a.m… Although I wish they could have turned back on in my room while I wasn’t sleeping. Anyway, as the competition proceeded throughout the week, my feelings of bittersweetness towards debate did as well. After seeing seniors in the debate community come to the end of their 4-year careers, I realized two things: First, that it may be a misuse of my time to invest so much time into an organization which may not benefit me that much on college resumes, job applications, etc. And second, I became aware of the imminent, unfortunate death of a lot of debate friendships that would soon come about–wow, that sounded sad–I mean, that I wouldn’t see my debate seniors for a while. It’s crazy how much time we invest, whether it be in groups like Debate, or people in the form of friendships, to see it all go away someday. I guess everything truly is temporary. Except the amount of senior citizens cursing at me on the phone because of Barack Obama (sorry, just had another full-time Obama ranter yell at me at work). Oh, yeah! While on the note of negativity, pessimism, and unfortunate views of the future, my wallet was stolen in Dallas.
On Saturday, I flew home from Dallas–or at least, I tried to. My journey began at noon on Saturday, as Baney and the debate team dropped me off at the airport. I waited there until 3 p.m. with my new friend I met at Dunkin’ Donuts. His name was iced coffee. Eventually, I got on the plane, and after about 3 hours of flying, I noticed we were late for D.C.. So, while I took out my headphones to ask the lady next to me what was happening, I was greeted by an unexpected voice, that of the pilot saying over the intercom: “We’re sorry, due to inclement weather in the D.C. area, we’re going to have to temporarily land and deplane in Atlanta, Georgia.” This was the beginning of the end. Upon our arrival in Atlanta, we were greeted by another not-so-pleasant announcement–from the familiar voice of the bearer of bad news. This time, he said we would have to deplane in Dallas for as long as 2 hours. Although we were all reluctant to get off the plane, we eventually complied, because, well, we had to. After spending 3 dollars at a water bottle at a nearby vendor, I sat alone for the next 45 minutes, playing Super Smash Brothers. After winning games and becoming increasingly skilled with the character “Link,” my game was interrupted by the same voice, and I knew bad news was coming. “We’re sorry about this, but unfortunately all flights going to Washington, D.C., are indefinitely cancelled due to severe storms. Thanks for flying Southwest!” Upon trying to rush out of the gate to be the first to reschedule a flight I imagined would be hotly contested, I was stopped byanother voice. This time, the announcer specifically targeted me, saying I, along with 4 others need to meet the gate agent. Because I was a minor and it was past 8 p.m., I was officially under direct supervision from Southwest employees. A nice, protective lady named Claudia (I believe) escorted us to baggage claim, the ticket counter, and our next flight. Claudia was a nice lady, however when I heard her yell, “Be careful! You’ll hurt him!” at a woman for getting too close to me, I knew Claudia, either really wanted children, or was very protective of the ones she had.
As I, and the other minors were given special access and the ability to bypass lines, we quickly rescheduled a flight to Baltimore at 11:30. When this was one immediately cancelled, myself and two of the other interns went to the next available flight, an 11:30 to Baltimore that had to stop here because they needed to let some weather pass. They had 3 available seats, and had been waiting to proceed in Atlanta for about 2 hours when we arrived. So, we got on the plane, and about 10 minutes later they told us to deplane until further notice. About 45 minutes after that, they officially announced (for me, the third time that night), that the flight was cancelled. They then told us the next available flight would be Monday night, and for the majority of people, Tuesday. The anger was insane. Shouting occurred and a mass uproar against Southwest employees ensued. The mob-like atmosphere was so similar to a riot I questioned whether we were going to Baltimore, or we were already there. However, Claudia brought us to our next helping employee, Patrick. Patrick was supposed to get off work at 8 p.m. although since so many flights were cancelled, he ended up working 12 hours overtime. He was very helpful, and in fact got in a dispute with a Delta employee in an attempt to guarantee us a flight without having to pay the $150 fee for a minor. It was quite humorous to see how even workers in a civilized environment still get in petty arguments, this one over whether a “Draft” or a “Check” was more of a guarantee financially. After they bickered for 20 minutes questioning the credibility of Patrick’s “Draft” to pay for the flight, myself and the other interns–the amount increased to 7–went to IHOP. We ate there until about 4:30 a.m., and Southwest covered our meal. Then, we all went to our respective flights, some going to Richmond, and others going to Baltimore. None of us had gotten sleep, so we passed out at the gate for about 30 minutes. Finally, we got in the plane and finally left.
We arrived in Baltimore at about 9 a.m.. The Southwest employee sent my baggage on Southwest instead of Delta (who I was flying with), so I wouldn’t have to pay the fee. Because they told me this important piece of information at 5:30 a.m., I forgot it once I landed and ended up looking for my baggage until about 11:00 a.m. Although, eventually I found it, took a 45 minute Uber home, and finally ended my seemingly endless journey.
I stayed up at home organizing and unpacking until about 3 p.m.. Then, I fell asleep and didn’t wake up until 7 a.m.. That day was a good day.
That’s it! Thanks for reading,
June 27, 2015 – Day 26
Yesterday, I finished my internship on Capitol Hill. It was a phenomenal experience, and I’m sad that it’s finally over. I reluctantly turned over my intern ID, took a photo with the other interns, and took a photo with my desk. (In the gallery attached, you can find all of these photos) It was bittersweet–with the emphasis being on bitter–but nonetheless, a good experience and a fine ending day. Tomorrow I leave for FBLA, my last stop on the journey of the summer. I’ve been practicing a lot, and I’m hoping to win first place again just so I can watch my parents’ reaction once again.
Today, I went to brunch and the Smithsonian Museum with David and Laura. Afterward, we went and saw the White House before the start of the heavy rainfall that sent us all home. Since then, I’ve stayed at home, typed this blog, read The Libertarian Mind, and played the ukulele. I should probably start packing considering I’m leaving tomorrow.
I’ve been asked the question “What was the highlight of your time in DC?” a lot recently. And now, to answer that question, I’d say the highlight of my trip was making new friends with the staff and interns, and learning how to work in an office environment. Although my time was short, I do think I’ve learned a lot from this experience. I’m going to miss the routine I created, with an iced coffee and a muffin for breakfast every morning, and Chipotle every night for dinner. I’m going to miss all the friends I made and familiarity I found inside of the Capitol.
As it relates to the struggles I’ve faced in D.C., I would have to say the most difficult thing about being alone is not navigating the Metro, buying groceries, nor trying to politely tell homeless people you have no cash. I’d have to say the biggest issue I’ve had when being independent was most definitely doing the laundry on my own. Activities such as this are why I dread becoming an adult. Perhaps the lessons I learned this summer were more than just how to work in an office. Perhaps the most helpful lessons I’ve been taught were how to clean clothes, navigate an airport, and handle myself independently in the face of adversity. Because as much as working in an office can help you, the most beneficial lessons in life are ones you can use every single day.
They say you miss places because you leave parts of yourself where you previously were. After my time in DC, I find this to be true. I know there’ll always be a part of me in DC, and maybe I can revisit it later in life. But for now, I’ll enjoy the luxurious life I can live in the most extravagant city of all: Springfield, Missouri.
For the last time,
Connor Rothschild, the Wimpy DC Kid