The random thoughts of an architect-turned- lawyer from the deep south living in Washington, DC...

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Mr. Smith goes to Washington

Okay, I admit it was a little more like Mr. Magoo. This morning, I put on my suit, grabbed my "Gallery Pass" and headed to the Senate for the confirmation vote of Mr. Samuel Alito. I was right on time to meet my friends at the corner of Louisiana and Constitution. Walking to and around the Capitol, I was a little disappointed not to see any protestors, mostly because it would have felt really good to walk right by them on the way to watch Mr. Alito get confirmed.

We got through security, dodged a few tours, and finally landed ourselves a spot in the line to enter the Gallery around 10:30am. The vote was at 11am. Around 10:45, a gentleman told us the Senate Gallery was full and we would not be able to get in before the vote but were welcome to view the gallery after the vote. WHAT? We were really disappointed, but didn't have too much time to dwell because the vote was coming up. Quick! Think! We need to at least find a television to watch it. Have you ever tried to find a television in our nation's capitol? Well, it is no easy feat. We began frantically asking tour guides and info desks where we could find a television. It's funny that the MCI Center can have twenty-foot screens on the side of the building showing you what is going on inside, but the Capitol doesn't even have a 20" Magnavox or something. Our search led us underground, because how else would one maneuver between buildings within the the complex?

As we are walking, everyone is going the opposite direction; they are heading toward the vote. As we pass the "escort required beyond this point" sign, I begin to question this and my friends shush me. We figured out really quickly that if you walk confidently acting as if you belong, no one will stop you. As we were about to get on the staffer subway system, a train stopped from the opposite direction. Off stepped Senators Kennedy, Warner, and more. I was not close enough to trip Sen. Kennedy, but considering he is on a cane, I probably would have saved that for Sen. Kerry had I seen him. At our next stop, we saw Sen. Lieberman. When we got off, we searched for the cafeteria that we heard had a television. Nope. Some nice gentleman had told me there is a small TV in "Cups & Company". Great! We truck it over to C&C and I turn the corner to find the television...and a man watching The Ellen DeGeneres Show. We really had to laugh. Apparently law school students are a little more interested in some Senate votes than the folks that work in the Senate buildings. Okay, enough is enough, I decide we are going to head to my Senator's office. On our way to see if Sen. Vitter has a television, we pass Sen. Santorum's office. The door is open, the TV is on, so we just ask is we can watch with them. We arrive just in time to find out the Senate voted to confirm Mr. Samuel Alito as a Justice on the Supreme Court in a 58-42 vote. We stand for a moment, just taking it in. Okay, I admit it was fairly anti-climactic.

But, it ain't over yet. My feet are killing me by this point, but we keep walking. (As the only female, I have no intention of complaining about cramped toes.) We headed to the Russell building to see if we could catch a glimpse of some of the reporters interviews or something. Up the stairs, down the stairs, next hall over. As I turned the corner at the bottom of the stairs into the rotunda area, a gentleman was coming toward me. I recognize him and immediately smile. He winked at me and continued on his way. "Did he just wink at you?" I smiled. Yes, that's right, Senator John McCain winked at me.

What a fun trip to the Capitol.