In Which my Secret Day Job is Revealed

by Susan Harris on July 3, 2006

SenateThat used to be me sitting at the table in the upper right of this photo.  The woman being jostled by photographers is the official Senate court reporter assigned to this hearing, and that’s what I did 3 days a week for most of my adult life.  When Congress wasn’t working – which is a lot of the time, ya know – I’d work in the federal courts or really anywhere a transcript was needed, but the halls of the Senate and House  were where I spent waaay too much time, and I’m happy to report that that chapter of my life is over, finished, kaput.

Kaput?  Yes, unfortunately the company I worked for went belly-up last month, which was a very sad thing for its other employees and I hate to seem callous but personally I just feel FREE AT LAST.  Yeah, instead of taking jobs with other court reporting agencies I’m making the break to get my second career off the ground – in gardening.  Isn’t that the dream, to turn your passion into a career?  Well, I’d never dreamed I could do it but it’s looking awfully promising, thanks to this blog.

This humble blog, you see, resulted in my being offered the 4-month contract I now have to write for and organize the DC Master Gardeners. (I’d written several posts about the program and it turns out the powers that be saw them and liked what they saw.)  And the first thing I did for DC Master Gardeners was to create a website, which also serves as a newsletter, and because I’m being paid to write the site and it uses a blog program, I guess that makes me a professional blogger! Take that, you ignorant blog-bashers.

But back to my preblogging days, before I was discovered.  I don’t expect too much sympathy for the day-job-I’d-come-to-hate because, after all, it was a part-time job that paid the bills, plus it could be so damn interesting.  I worked for the grand jury hearing the Monica Lewinsky case and the congressional staffers investigating, most recently, the Katrina response.  I worked with celebrities giving their depositions, testifying in Congress, or meeting as the Board of the AFI.  I had a few junkets, like accompanying senators grandstanding around their states or far better, a stint at the World Court in The Hague.  I had assignments everywhere from D.C.’s morgues and prisons to the Roosevelt Room of the White House to the very best hotels.  The Nation’s Capital, top to bottom.

But despite the occasional dose of excitement, the day-to-day reality meant spending too much time in that bastion of incivility and corruption, the U.S. Congress.  I often thought of the popular bumper sticker “If you’re not outraged you’re not paying attention,” wishing I had the option to just tune the bastards out.  But lacking that option, outrage became mine, seasoned with a big dollop of cynicism.

And now that’s all behind me.  Today I happened to see a senator on the news acting like a major jerk and I wasn’t filled with dread at the thought of having to be charming to him the next week in his committee room.  Ah, freedom.


Takoma Gardener July 3, 2006 at 7:25 am

Quick clarification on the corruption thing. I ascribe it more to the way campaigns are financed than the character of the people involved. Campaigns have gotten SO expensive that increasingly, good people just avoid public office. STill, I could rattle off names of congresspeople I actually like or admire – sometimes both – and I’m just grateful they can stand the heat.

Heather July 3, 2006 at 10:05 am

Ohh, you are a woman who knows the scoop! So you saw the blue dress? Ha! Am I right to miss the Clinton years? I sure do. God those were fun times.

Anyway, congratulations on your FREEDOM! And my sincere best wishes for great success in your new career. How freaking fabulous!

Kathy Jentz July 3, 2006 at 12:12 pm

And don’t forget you are in one of the opening shots of “Thanks for Smoking”! You’ll have to by the DVD when it comes out and capture a screenshot to post here :-)

Takoma Gardener July 3, 2006 at 12:30 pm

Do I know about this cameo in “Thank You for Smoking”? For real?

Val July 4, 2006 at 1:43 am

Susan, how wonderful, and proof of the saying: “One door closes and another opens” Enjoy this next stage of your life.

Claire July 4, 2006 at 10:48 pm

What a great job to have had (emphasis on the past tense). And best wishes on the start of career #2. I guess the only thing the two careers have in common is the layers of manure you’ve had to step through.

Kasmira July 5, 2006 at 4:55 pm

Congratulations! I’m so glad to hear that you are able to follow your passion full-time! Your audience certainly reaps the benefit!

Nelumbo July 13, 2006 at 11:16 pm

Congrats! Court reporting sounds interesting, too, but of route #2 is even better.

Daffodil Planter July 15, 2009 at 2:27 pm

Typing faster than the speed of light must mean NO lag time between brilliant thought and brilliant post! Let’s hear it for your new Schedule C!

David Perry July 15, 2009 at 3:22 pm

You seem remarkably wise and sane for your years in the trenches, Susan. Welcome to your newfound freedom. I personally expect to see many more great things growing out of your corner of the world . . .

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