ENJOY THE RIDE
My office is a carousel. This is not to say that my days are mundane, that the ups and downs of my office work are cyclical and expected. It is not to say that the hours spent at my desk are gentle, and that I sit back and allow the rest of the world to rotate around me, spinning, spinning, spinning.
My office is a carousel in that we are the mechanics, the aching and grinding wheels. We rotate and spin, always in the same direction: forward. Forward and onward, pivoting on deadlines. "Always meet the deadline. Always meet the deadline," our mantra. "Add as much value as you can in the time that you are given."
They ride above us, the legislators. They circle us, hawk-like. We grind and push to move them forward, push them up. They gallop above us, grinding our spirits at times. And yet we push them, gently guide them around and through the legislative session, through drafts, introduced bills, printed bills, motions, amendments. It's the same. Every year, the same. A pattern, spinning, spinning, spinning through documents.
Oppressive organ music is replaced by a cacophony of voices: "We need it by 5:00." "We need it by noon." "We need it by 9:00." Ideas, deadlines, cites. It spews from every direction, both inside and outside our office. "Do you have House Bill No. 1010?" "Can you rush print this?" "I think they're logging something." "What's our count?"
There is no definite end, only forward motion.
For months, we edited preliminary drafts. We worked on grammar, brevity, the spotlighting of bad cites. Our vision was the same all those months: add value to each document we push through. While on a carousel, your focus is similar; you pick a spot, a dot on the horizon, and you fixate. You stare and you admire each leaf of that tree, each golden hair on the head of a stranger, each billowing cloud. You stare and stare and crane your neck as you turn, turn your gaze and stretch before you cannot gaze anymore, it makes you dizzy.
You snap forward. A new vision, a new focus.
"We're done with preliminary drafts. We're working on introductory bills now."
We shift. Onward. The music teases us with its repetition, yet we accept it. It is the background noise of our office rotation. Soon, we once again find ourselves facing that same tree, those preliminary drafts. True, the drafts this year focus on issues not addressed in the previous General Assembly. The minute details are different. So instead of fixating on that same leafy tree, we focus on the golden-haired stranger, one of many who stand just outside the carousel's bounds. They shout and wave. And they wait anxiously, waiting for the spinning to cease. Riding out the experience as a spectator. As a citizen.
Spinning, spinning, spinning. Trees. Grass. Sky. Ground. People. Legislators. Bills. Session. Season. Spinning.
It's a carousel.
Sometimes we're in over our heads, yes. There were times when our proofing bin is packed tight with unedited documents. We come in early, we work late. We work six days a week. We drown in documents with deadlines of 15 minutes or less. We pluck reams of paper from the printers and rush them, still warm in our hands, to the Statehouse. There's always something to read, always something to catch up on, always something to learn. A thousand documents to which we add value before pushing it forward. Sometimes we're below the water. But we don't sink, we just hold on.
Hold on and enjoy the ride.