Wally Herger was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives for 26 years. He was a big shot since he represented California’s 2nd congressional district, the largest congressional district by area in California. Not one to be overawed or intimidated, and knowing I went into the JD/PhD because I thought I could change the world, I landed a job with Wally through my persistence.
I was tasked to deliver the votes by the all-male staff crew. The director (Dallas) sent me, so I jumped on the underground train and rode to the Capitol. I should have realized the day that awaited me when I cheerfully, and it turns out naively, greeted a senator passing me by. His “warm” response: “Do you know who I am?” Not knowing who he was I responded honestly—and bristly, “Not exactly, but I can tell you are a senator by your pin, and I was merely being polite.” And off I went.
Unfortunately, I didn’t get very far as “Larry” the capital police officer was standing adjacently to me. I smile, say hello … and immediately stop short as Larry steps in front of me and warns, “I am sorry Ms., you can’t go in there.” Embarrassed for his misjudgment I casually flash my badge and expect to renew my trek.
Not to be.
“Oh, I am sorry, women are not allowed in this section.” Huh? Had I been transported back to 1910 prior to the women’s suffrage movement?! No, this wasn’t acceptable. My grandmother (born in 1908) instilled in me the importance of the suffrage movement; it’s why I hadn’t missed a vote ever in my life.
Utterly shocked that I was being banned from a section of the Capitol as if it were a men’s locker room, I withstood the kick to the gut feeling, regrouped, and imagined being laughed at by the rest of the staff when I returned to the office for not having gotten Wally his votes. No, it was time to fire-up the anger coursing through my veins and hearken back to the days as a kid when I tried to move the football lifts at my brother’s practices.
I turned around, gave Larry a coy look and said, “I have to deliver these”—and proceeded to bum rush past him, through the doors—all the while pushing as hard as I did years earlier on the football field. The doors slammed open and I stumbled through (quite the demur entrance) with Larry yelling at me and his hand grasping his unlatched weapon.
I looked in front of me and saw a forest of highback chairs and cigars, and an assortment of Congressional members lowering their newspapers slowly to peek over at the commotion. I am thankful I’m wearing pants to hide my quaking knees, but even more thankful that the congressional members are in Larry’s direct line of fire if he shoots at me.
Suddenly, Wally laughed and said, “Larry she’s fine, she’s with me”. I turned to Larry knowingly and repeated, “I am fine Larry”.
I delivered the vote sheet to Wally, realized that he had no idea why he was voting the way he was, and then boarded the train back to the office to ignore the 20-somethings actually running the country.
What a day!