All this is true.


For one of my early experiences in DC, I ventured downtown for the first time since my eastern migration to the 2008 Public Service Town Hall and Career Fair, which I had gotten notice of the day earlier via the imminently useful job list of Tom Manatos (yes, I’m already name-dropping out here). As I was new to the East and looking at all possibilities of new career directions, the opportunity to talk to a multitude of government agencies was too good to pass. It only took one Metro line change, which I, of course, chose the wrong direction but discovered within two stops. Riding the escalator out of the bowels of DC, I immediately found myself at the end of an enormous line waiting to enter the building for the Fair.

Ten minutes later the line moved and I entered the National Building Museum, a travesty of architecture that makes a mockery of the museum. Side note: Shouldn’t the National Building Museum celebrate the best of American architecture instead of the bland interior overlooked by hundreds of busts that clearly repeat after only 4 unique heads? Inside this hall I waited with thousands of self-obsessed college interns, the stereotypes of the intern population that are mocked across the country. The Fair was clearly targeting a younger audience than I represented, as evidenced by the introductory remarks by the organizer and the, later, overheard conversations of these self-important twits who were, to a one, amazed that you can’t enter federal service at the GS-13 level straight out of college, despite the recommendation you’d get from Senator Whatshisname.

But the crowds of youngin’s, and yes, I just referred to these punks as youngin’s, isn’t what this story is about. That came later, during the nearly incomprehensible remarks of the organizer. I will give the organizers the benefit of the doubt and believe that I was standing at an unfortunate confluence of speakers that rendered the comments indecipherable. But based on the lack on interest shown by every other face in the room, I’m guessing it was instead just very poor acoustics.

While standing against a faux-marble column, topped by horrendous Corinthian decorations that clashed completely with remainder of the interior, I began to look around the room and plan my attack on the Fair. Around the exterior of the main hall, each agency had set up tables, laden with pamphlets and manned by serious looking employees. Some had ten-foot tall panels with flashy graphics extolling the agency of choice as the greatest work environment imaginable. Some were less organized but manned by friendly looking people nearly the age of the job seekers.

Standing against my column, I saw two harried looking government types, maybe a little shabbier than the rest, come hurrying into the room. They carried boxes of, I assume, pamphlets and a duffel bag with, I later saw, a large sign with their agency name. Next to me stood one of organizing flunkies, he looking younger than even the rooms youngin’s. The late arrivals hurried up to him and quickly asked where they were supposed to set up. He opened his map before looking back up to them and asking which agency they were representing.

“FEMA”, the man replied.

It was all I could not to laugh out loud as they hurried off, late as usual.



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