Random Blog A Musing Farf

Monday, February 26, 2007


There are only a few times I have found where an instance occurs that really makes me look back and marvel at how much I have changed over the years.

I lived in Washington DC from 1993-2001, during which time I was heavily involved in politics. I worked in the White House Office of Media Affairs under President Clinton, during which, for a portion of my tenure, I set up interviews with the President and Administration officials with local television stations. This involved booking the interviews and being present in the TV studio when they were filmed via satellite to manage the shoot. I absolutely loved this job (really, internship but I was there so long there were few people who knew I was not actually staff) and my boss, Dave, trusted me entirely. He even let me take over for him so he could travel to NY to interview for a job with MTV, without anyone knowing.

Usually Dave traveled to NY when he knew there were no interviews scheduled at which President Clinton would be present. I had tons of interaction with the President, but always in a peripheral way and was much better known to the Vice President (I had worked for Mrs. Gore briefly) and Administration Officials, with whom I was trusted to work without Dave being present. But, one day the unavoidable happened. Dave flew to NY and that morning, we received instructions to set up satellite interviews in Columbus, OH and Jacksonville, FL to congratulate the cities on opening the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and obtaining a football expansion team. Sure, Dave wasn’t there, but I called him and we decided I knew the drill enough to handle it on my own. Besides, it was just the kind of goodwill, non-policy stuff the White House likes to do around election time. Easy. Except not.

Just as we were starting the first interview, the President looked at me and asked, “How many people lost jobs in the recent base closings in Jacksonville?” I stated at him blankly. Was he speaking to me? I turned around expecting someone else to be there. “Ummm, I am not sure, Sir,” I replied, “I can call the Pentagon and find out.” I stammered helplessly. “G-ddammit, Sara!” President Clinton yelled (he hated doing these and they generally put him in a bad mood), “What the hell do we pay you for if not to know this stuff?” I froze in my tracks. Did the President just use my name? He knew who I was? I was elated. Who cared that he was mad? He knew me!!!!

Eventually, I left Washington and put government work behind me (well, I am still heavily involved in politics but less directly so). I went to law school and began to despise discussing politics in public and cringed when my Washington friends brought up the topic. I stopped reading the newspaper on a daily basis and found myself more concerned about whether Husband and I can afford to buy a house than if Libby lied about knowing Plame was a CIA operative. My daily conversations with Oscar, the guy who hands out AM New York in the morning, involve sports, pets and the fact I never remember by hat on the days I really need it.

Oscar never calls me by name, preferring instead to use terms like Sweetheart and Darling. Still, I was a little disappointed since I had given him a Valentine’s Day card (signed with my name) and he still called my Sweetheart. I can’t take it personally. He sees so many people everyday and how can he keep them straight? Then, this morning, as I was telling him about my weekend trip to London, he laughed and said, “You are going to fall asleep at your desk and your boss is going to yell, ‘Sara, Sara’ and you are going to be so passed out you will not even hear it.” I froze in my tracks. Did Oscar just use my name? He knew who I was? I was elated. He knew me!!!!

It was then I realized that I was as excited that Oscar knew my name as I was back more than 10 years ago when President Clinton called me by name. And it occurred to me that I prefer that Oscar knows me because he actually knows me. And, I think that, if I walked up to former President Clinton, he would stare at me blankly, but if I went away and came back 10 years later, Oscar would flash me a giant smile and ask me if I still forgot my hat on cold days.


wingin' it said...

I would be more impressed if they called you by your real name...Farf! :-)

jg said...

That is a perfect NY story if you ask me. It's the guys like Oscar (and the coffee guy that knows exactly what you want every morning) that make it worth all the hassle that comes with living here!!!

Suzanne said...

Wow, that's awesome. You definitely know all the power players. I never realized that you had such an influential position in the White House and with the AM NY guy.