Editor's Note: Sen. Frank Murkowski, R-Alaska, offers graduating high school seniors the opportunity to spend a month in his Washington, D.C., office. Melinda Haring, a 2000 graduate of Kenai Central High School, spent the month of June as one of 10 Alaska interns. The following are some of her summer memories.
Instead of hoofing 13 miles while toting the disposable camera, unwieldy fanny pack and other possessions that scream "tourist," toss the map and prepare yourself for a wild night (even though the Senate's not in session).
It all began one night ...
At ESPN Zone, several college interns we dined with mentioned that the Supreme Court delivers its decisions on Mondays during the month of June. Another minion (i.e., intern) heard the Supreme Court would announce its ruling on partial-birth abortion, the Boy Scouts decision and gun control. He called the court for additional information. Apparently, Supreme Court staffers realize who uptight congressional staffers tend to be and fibbed by relaying the idea that people generally begin lining the steps at midnight.
After a thoroughly exhausting but delightful day at the Kennedy ranch, Sunday night dawned -- and no, I didn't turn into a pumpkin. The benevolent interns phoned and challenged my sense of adventure. After all, hailing from Alaska implies a certain indomitable spirit. While my sunburn demanded my attention, the intern whom I lovingly refer to as "Boy Scout," convinced me to snooze on the U.S. Supreme Court stairs.
He excitedly exclaimed, "We'll set up a little camp fit with a radio, blankets, playing cards, books and instant coffee." It sounded like another chapter of "Little House on the Prairie" minus the Conestoga wagon. Not wanting to dissent, I agreed to meet the other interns at our camp.
Although I'm not superstitious, I remained oblivious to Mother Nature's foreboding sign: lightning. In addition, the other Murkowski interns, who checked the forecast, chickened out. At this point, I hustled over to Union Station using all the techniques that I acquired from "Street Sense for Women" (thanks, Daddy, for forcing me to swallow that classic). I sashayed from Union over to home base with celerity, constantly glancing over my shoulder and scanning the bushes for the slightest movement. If only the Secret Service knew of the mighty skill I possess without any formal training.
While I chilled over there, Mother Nature lavishly bestowed her liquid progeny upon her scorched flora and fauna. Fortunately, our beloved intern coordinator lived behind the Supreme Court building. Although our plans for roasting marshmallows while singing "Kumbaya" on Lady Justice's throne were shattered, the thought of sleeping on a cozy rug rather than chilly marble was inviting. Meanwhile, as we clustered in the house, Boy Scout never appeared.
Apparently, while we battled the precipitation, Boy Scout encountered several hurdles and a brick wall. He missed the last metro feeding into Union Station by 30 seconds due to this selfishness of his charming roomie who wouldn't drive him to the station. Next, our hero wandered around at midnight searching for an English-speaking pedestrian to inquire of a bus schedule. Boy Scout finally found a straggler, obviously intoxicated, who told him that D.C. doesn't have buses. Finally and fortunately, he found not only a bus but one with a driver who spoke a sliver of English.
The bus dumped him off in a seedy district, and Boy Scout once again lost his keen sense of direction. As a blood-red cab screeched by, Boy Scout mustered up a girlish yell. Once again, the driver comprehended un poco amount of English. To top this fair evening off, the driver didn't know where to find the Supreme Court Building, although he pinpointed the precise location of the U.S. Court of Appeals and, curiously, the District Courthouse. This increased Boy Scout's determination exponentially to find the marble behemoth.
During his most excellent adventure, we began to speculate as to Boy Scout's whereabouts. The frequent sirens confirmed our worst fears that a street urchin violently stripped him of his patches and Eagle Scout Award. But our hero finally appeared at 2 a.m., drenched, whiny and cursing (in Spanish).
Obviously, our leak at the Supreme Court did not factor weather into the equation when estimating what time to show up. Since we were wide-awake and bushy-tailed, we decided to check on the formation status of the line. As we approached the dispenser of justice, we found not only barren steps but the marble mammoth emanating a hallowed aura. In order to cement this ordeal as a night to remember, we frolicked in the Supreme Court "spa" and belted out the "Star-Spangled Banner" from the marble porch.
The story continues when the rooster crowed. I awoke in a bleary haze. We scrambled over to the courtroom, and to our horror, we found a lady already lurking on the steps. I swear, God has a sense of humor. As we began espousing our righteous right rhetoric as to how the scales would hang, we learned that the lady in front of us was a leaf-licking liberal employed by none other than the virtuous American Civil Liberties Union.
Next, we chatted with a guard and mentioned our lengthy duration on the marble. He laughed when he realized we worked for congressmen. Instead of putting our lives in imminent physical danger, a staffer from our office could have pre-arranged tickets for the decision. Then, however, this verbose story, garnished with the slightest embellishment, wouldn't exist to inspire its readers to hone their Spanish skills, frolic in public fountains or inquire about the intern program.
Melinda Haring is currently pursuing a degree in American Studies at The University of the South in Sewanee, Tenn. She then plans on getting a law degree and returning to the Kenai Peninsula to practice law. For questions about the Murkowski Intern Program or college admissions, she can be contacted via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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