Sunday, February 21, 2016

The Graduate goes to Washington

     Those buildings aren't so hard to get into as a reporter or even a teacher.
     You don't need a press pass or an invitation. It's easier than getting an appointment with a specialist, if your timing is right.
     My boss handed me two press passes in 1984, when I was a junior in high school. One was an AP pass and the other for North Carolina only.
     I had one on my car, too, which was even better. The passes helped me get into baseball and basketball and football games free. I stood on the sidelines and sat in the dugout.
     There was no need for them at public meetings, but it was good to have on hand if I went somewhere outside the county because I was so young.
     Nobody gave me a hard time about it because they wanted to be in the newspaper.
     Teachers don't have those kinds of passes, not to the buildings in Washington, but they have the right uniform at home in their closets.
     I don't know why they wear play clothes for such serious work.
     It gives them away for miles around.
     When they get to the door and realize who is waiting, it makes them mad. They stomp around and refuse to go in because the faces are so familiar.
     It's those young grads from a few years ago, the ones who couldn't wait to get internships on the Hill and make a difference in the world.
     Their new haircuts and starched collars speak volumes as they glance at the teachers' sneakers and finally ask, "Do you have an appointment?"
     The tie-dye and sneakers crowd is so distracting no one sees me slip in.
      I'm wearing red, which makes is more challenging but also, for some reason,
                                                                                                                                more fun.