a breakfast serial

One bite-sized story every morning to uplift, motivate, or provoke thought.

Archive for April 18, 2013


< by Mitra >

Writing sample? Check.  Business casual outfit? Check.  Positive, can-do attitude?  Double check.  I was barely 20 years old, I was at the Wisconsin State Capitol, and I was about to interview for a position with the office of the Lt. Governor of Wisconsin.

There was the typical ranking order of interns who had the coveted “favorite” status.  I vowed to win the trust of my superiors and become one of them.  My eyes would linger upon the sight of them laughing it up with the Chief of Staff like old friends while I scanned constituent mail to the wrong server (no, Mitra!  Save files to LTGOV, not GOV!  You’re so stupid!) and freaked out about whether my sweater vest was crooked that day.

Buried in the work of governance, I was pleased as could be.  I read with avaricious interest the penned notes of outstate fish farmers urging my elected official to do something about the nefarious exotic carp population.  “These fish don’t stand a chance against me,” I thought, and responded: “Dear Sir, our office has received your query.  We appreciate your concern and will investigate the matter as soon as possible.”  TAKE THAT, CARP!

One day, I heard the voice of my supervisor: “Mitra, the Lt. Governor is here and would like to introduce herself to you!”

I froze.  Oh. My. Gosh.  SHE’S HERE.  I had never, ever met the LT GOV.  I was nobody!  I was but a happy, toiling, invisible peon in this democratic industrial complex.  I swiveled slowly around.

I will never forget her coral suit, million-dollar smile, perfectly coiffed hair, and matching lipstick.  “HELLO!” she chimed, towering at least 5 feet over me seated in my chair, and she extended a noble hand to me.  Oh, crap!  Do I stand up first, but in doing so, shoot down her handshake?  Do I awkwardly shake her hand while I’m seated and she is standing?  Maybe I should just stay here and keep talking to her stomach.

“He – hello, Lieutenant Governor,” I stammered as I clamored to my feet and darted out my hand with the force and swiftness of a panicked carp.  “I – It’s a pleasure to m-meet you!  Thank you for this opportunity!”

s an adult, I now work in politics and have a little more self-awareness around the big fish, but it is always good to remember where you came from.