Wednesday, August 11, 2010

More Government Than You Can Shake a Stick At. (Which is a Lot of Government!)

            I’ve been on vacation for the past few weeks, which is a weird thing to say while you’re unemployed. But a friend of mine was getting married in Chicago, and once I was in Chicago, I figured I may as well visit a friend in DC. And once you’re in DC you HAVE to go to New York, right?
            I’ve been friends with my DC guy since grade school, and right now he’s the most grown-up person I know. He’d hate that, but them's the breaks. He’s married. He has a doorman. He has a stable job. He can’t tell me what it is.
            That, apparently, is the thing in DC. If you’re there, you definitely work for the government. Then there’s a hierarchy. People who can tell you exactly what they do are on the lowest rung. People who can tell you what department they’re in, but can’t tell you what they do, are the next level up. People who can’t tell you what department they work for are the next level after that, and people who lie about their department entirely are one step up. (Interestingly enough, the President is pretty low on this scale.)
            My friend is definitely lying to me. So is his wife, who works at a similar sort of job. They remind me of this. It’s all very exciting.
            Whatever it is he does, though, gets him some cool government hookups. He was able to get me some behind-the-scenes tours, and one of them was at The Supreme Court.
            I was nervous about entering the building—I may have an unpaid parking ticket in LA, and I was sure it’d set off some sort of alarm. But I risked it, and shockingly, I’m glad I did.
The Supreme Court focuses primarily on government and law, two topics that I find as interesting as peanut butter (the analogy only works if we assume it’s creamy peanut butter, of course). But I forgot to take into account my interest in pretending I’m a international superspy, which featured heavily on the tour, in my mind. All in all, we got into all sorts of crazy, behind-the-scenes places that I can’t really talk about because it’s all classified. (As far as you know.) (Superspy!)
Perhaps the best part of the tour, though, was what happened immediately AFTER the tour. Feeling all confident, I jaywalked right outside the Supreme Court. It was the most brazen moment of my life.
But as exciting as that tour was, my overall impression of DC is that there’s just too much government going on there. I asked people what there was to do, I got the same answers from everyone: There’s so much! There’s the White House, there’s the Pentagon, there’s the Capitol Building, the Supreme Court, etc.
I had to modify it: “I don’t want to learn anything. What is there to do?” That question stumped everyone I met.
            DC’s in on it, though. They know that they don’t have anything fun going on there, and so they try to trick people. Take the “National Mall.” Let’s just say that the food court was a little underwhelming. The “National Putt-Putt Mini Golf Course” was actually just a memorial for WWI vets.
            Although there was one more interesting, government-related activity worth mentioning, and that was watching the House of Representatives in session. 
The thing was, no other member of the House was listening to whatever the current speaker was saying. The other Honorable Congressmen were doing stuff that would have easily gotten you kicked out of class in high school—eating, talking, texting, etc.
After bringing it up to my tour guide (an admitted “Senate Snob,” which is a thing, apparently) my understanding is that these speakers speak simply to get their opinions on record. It doesn’t matter if people listen to them, because they can just refer to it later, if need be.  
I guess it's nice to reaffirm my apathetic political beliefs. Take that, America!