THE MORE FULFILLING ASPECTS OF MY JOB
A compliment to "The Less Fulfilling Aspects of my Job" from yesterday
- •This is the view out my office window
- •It reminds me of college in the best waysI went to a state school with a campus and a quad. In other words, for four years I lived in an insulated, self-sufficient community. The Senate is like this too. We have dining establishments, a post office, a stationary store, and a barber shop. You could never leave the campus and you'd survive just fine.
- •The peopleThe people who work here make this institution what it is. And I'm not talking about the senators. We will get to them. I'm talking about Miss Rose, the cashier in the Senate Carryout. Sontia in the coffee shop. Terry, the postman. Norma in the main cafeteria. Thomas who sets up rooms meticulously for press conferences. These are kind, funny people with varied backgrounds and stories to tell all working under the same roof, to keep the "World's Greatest Deliberative Body" great.
- •The senatorsI grew up in a working-class family in a working-class immigrant community. In my wildest dreams, I never thought I'd get to talk sports with a senator from North Dakota (John Hoeven), make a former SNL cast member laugh (Senator Al Franken), or have a senator know my name, recognize me, and ask me how things are going (Jon Tester). Senators get a bad rap and some deserve it. But in that 100 member body, there are some real humans with functioning hearts and normal brains.
- •Ted Kennedy and I worked in the same placeI grew up in Massachusetts. Though I never worked for him, seeing Senator Kennedy work in the Senate was something I literally could not have dreamed of. He was a hero. One day, a few weeks before he passed, I got the attached note in the mail (at home). Life-changing.
- •The buildingThe Capitol is truly gorgeous (except for the basement). My first job in the Senate was as an intern seven years ago. My boss told me on day 1, "Make sure you walk with your head up. You get to work in a beautiful, historic building and I see too many people take that for granted." I instill the same wisdom now to my interns. Though, I will say, the floors are pretty lavish too.
- •The friendsPeople come from all over to work in politics. Some days, I wonder why. But I digress. Initially, you bond over where you are. But relationships develop over time. I've made friends from every different kind of background you can imagine. From Honolulu, to Monroe, Louisiana, to Guadalajara, Mexico, to Bel Air. And many others. People who have made my work life better but also, more importantly, my personal life better.
- •The way it enriches my belief systemI came to the Senate a progressive Democrat and I remain one today because of my experiences. My best example, if not a very emotionally affecting one: As the Senate tried to pass sensible, comprehensive gun control legislation, I got to know very well the families of the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting. I saw their struggle to cope. I saw their passion for change. And I saw their disappointment when we sat together as the legislation ultimately fell. Their courage inspires me.