For people who aren’t in the political bubble that is Washington, D.C., the ways of Congress can seem confusing and mysterious. So let me share a story about one Halloween in Congress that will shed a little light on how that ecosystem operates.
A few years ago, I was a yeoman staffer for an obscure committee. I arrived at work early that Halloween, but despite the hour, there was still a line to go through the security screening, which annoyed me. When I looked at the front of the line to see what was causing the holdup, I saw an attractive young woman in a costume. Wearing costumes for Halloween was not uncommon on the Hill, especially on a day (like that one) where neither the House or the Senate was in session. What was unusual was that this woman had made the spectacularly bad decision of dressing like a prostitute — replete with too-short skirt, revealing top, ripped fishnet stockings, and very high heels.
The gaggle of us behind her in line proceed to go through the x-ray machine as fast as possible, so as to have a chance to follow her — the security guards acquiescing because they were too busy staring at the woman’s behind to bother with the guys that set off the metal detector.
A handful of other male staffers and I began walking as fast as we could — while looking casual — to catch up with the star of the metal detector and steal another glance. Suddenly, out of nowhere, there appears a small army of Capitol Policeman doing the best they could to pretend that they just happened to be hanging around in that long, windowless, office-less passage that leads from the building entrance to the elevator bank. Had I not been too busy looking somewhere else, I’m sure I would have counted at least 30 or 40 policeman along my path.
My two hill lessons that day: Young kids sometimes make inappropriate choices — even the ambitious ones who work for Congress — and the Capitol Police have a code for “hot woman en route.”
— Ike Brannon is director of economic policy and congressional relations for the American Action Forum.