(4/6) The Internship: Or, How I Learned to Start Worrying and Hate the Government

It’s Thursday now in the Washington Bureaucrat’s hard hitting, soft power, six-part series going undercover at the State Department. Will this be the day he finally gets email access?


Thursday I dawdle after class. It’s after one when I get to State. This time after the x-ray and security screening I know where to direct the guard’s attention on his list.

“I’m on the list from Tuesday. At the bottom. It’s hand-written.”

“Yep, there you are.”

I’m in.

I knock on my office door and wait. Eventually Harold the office management assistant lets me in.

“Geoffrey was looking for you. Have you gotten your badge yet?”

I visit the familiar office and hear the familiar reply that Geoffrey is out.

“Is your email working yet?” Steven asks me as he walks by my desk.

“I don’t know. I haven’t checked.”

“Oh, well I’ve been sending you emails.”

My log in works this time. I have 235 new messages.

“Looks like you’ve got something to keep you busy.”

Some messages are the daily schedules of various people I don’t know. Many are news updates or agendas for meetings I’m not going to or for events that have already occurred. There is a message about getting my classified log in information. I need to get my badge first. One message is from tech support saying they came by my office to fix my computer but I was out, and to let them know if I received this message. I do actually have one message from Steven, telling me to call the administrative assistant for Bill Siraglio, Deputy Assistant Secretary and person of power, to set up a meeting, as he likes to meet personally with all of the new interns.

I try dialing my voicemail again. The computerized operator informs me that my password is incorrect. The packet on accessing voicemail says to contact Geoffrey for a password reset.

Towards the top of my inbox, there is an extensive email chain about a going away party for one of the men in the office who has been transferred to Kabul. There will be chips and drinks.

Another message came in reminding everyone that the party has started. I shut down the computer. Tim sees me do so and informs me that the new policy is to just restart your computer at the end of the day instead of shutting it down. I leave it off and go to the party.

The guy who is leaving is amazed that he gets to ship five thousand pounds of stuff over with him, as opposed to the backpack he took with him when he did Peace Corps.

Ann has stories from when she was stationed in Guadalajara Mexico. About a pregnant sixteen year-old southern white girl abandoned in a border town by her deported Mexican boyfriend sneaking back into the U.S. About the guy who was kept in a freezer for three years after he was killed because nobody was willing to identify him until the State Department finally sent her.

And then there is Geoffrey.

“What’s your name,” he asks, a question with no question mark at the end.

I tell him. He tells me to come with him. We go back to his office, where he shows me the badge form I filled out and demands to know what the heck I think this is. Apparently the new form I filled out came pre-signed, by the wrong person. He has me go back to the front and get another form and fill it out, and when I finish I am to give it to Sharon to sign, because it has to be someone from their office doing the authorization if I am going to be their responsibility.

Sharon fills out the administrative part of the form and hands it back to me. I am supposed to bring that down to the badge office between the hours of nine and four. It is four-forty-five. I walk back to my office, knock on the door, waited until Harold hears me, grab my jacket and backpack so I won’t to knock on the door again when I want to go home, and go back to the party. Everyone is leaving.

I heard that there is an S1 bus that leaves from Virginia and 21st that will take me closer to school. That exit is on the opposite end of the building from where visitors are permitted to leave. I show the guard there my intern badge and ask if it would be all right for me to leave through his door. He motions over his supervisor to check with him.

“Let him out,” the guy says.

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