Hey Big Daddy,
I’m a Capitol staffer and recently I went joy-riding in a state car with my
friend. I told my boss I was headed to the district office but I wound up
running the car into a ditch near Big Sur. I wasn’t hurt and my friend was
OK, too, but I’m wondering if I’m in trouble here. I don’t think it’s that
big a deal, but my friends tell me different and say my job could be on the
line. What do you think?
Dear Cruiser –
Don’t take this the wrong way, because Big Daddy certainly loves fun. Hell,
there were periods of time in Sacramento when we focused on little else but
having fun. Frankly, I always thought the fun made us better legislators.
Going out on the town and having a few drinks with other lawmakers or
lobbyists is how you got to know them, how you learned what made them tick,
and how you figured out if you could trust ’em. You don’t learn that kind of
stuff with one of you sitting on the dais and the other person sitting at
the witness table presenting a bill.
Work hard, play hard, and playing hard always seemed to make it easier to
work together back in those days.
But son, if “joy-riding” in a Dodge Stratus is your idea of the best way to
have some fun and impress a young lady, then you seriously need to
re-examine your priorities.
First things first: Big Daddy is certainly glad you and your date are still
in one piece after careening into a ditch. The last thing Capitol Weekly can
afford right now is to lose any of its readership, no matter how
intellectually challenged it may be at the moment.
As to whether your job is on the line, if it’s not, it certainly ought to
be. Son, you violated so many written and unwritten rules of political
common sense that I hardly know where to start.
Look up at that golden dome for a moment and remember where you work. You
work in politics, a profession that requires you to use to your brains and
your judgment, and in most cases, your judgment is more important. Reading
about this escapade makes Big Daddy wonder if you left them both in
Sacramento when you bolted out of the state garage. If your boss can’t trust
your judgment (or trust you to tell the truth) when it comes to borrowing a
state car, how in the world is he going to be able to trust it when you make
a recommendation on a bill?
As an aside, I also need to question the judgment of this young lady.
Granted, she wasn’t the one borrowing the car or sitting behind the wheel,
but somehow she gotten taken in by this ruse (unless, of course, you misled
that little dove and she thought an evening at Biba’s was on tap).
Assembly staffers are like children in that, to paraphrase the great W.C.
Fields, they should be seen but not heard. I’m not all that crazy about them
being seen–especially when they’re on the front page of a newspaper,
crawling out of the wreckage of their boss’ taxpayer-financed car.
Now, on the off-chance that your boss has taken pity on you and decided not
to send you down to the soup kitchen with the Frank Fat’s leftovers, it’s
time to get your act together. Put on a tie, don’t do anything that involves
using your own judgment without talking to someone who has worked in the
Capitol for more than a year, and start walking to work. And to your female
companion, I’d suggest she set her sights a little higher until you get your
act together. Tough love: It’s what all children need