In honor of this election season, I thought I’d update, repost and reshare my biggest professional screw up. Enjoy!
Twelve years ago, I was a young congressional staffer living in Washington, DC. I had a fabulous English basement apartment on Capitol Hill and I was “going places.”
I loved my job, but always felt like I deserved more responsibility. Until one day, when I wished I had less.
My job back then was to read all of the Congressman’s mail, research the issue, then respond (as the Congressman). Sometimes I’d prepare a letter for an individual and sometimes I’d write a form letter which would go to a number of constituents when a major piece of legislation was before the House of Representatives.
Well, ten years ago there was a lot going on. We were late to pass our appropriations bills and were considering an omnibus (one major budget that would essentially plan for every Federal agency instead of individual bills), and we also had, oh, a MAJOR PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION.
My boss wasn’t polling well that year and he eventually lost his reelection. However, we were still employed until the end of the year and we still had legislation to work on…remember that omnibus? But, knowing that we’d soon be losing our jobs, we got a little lackadaisical. In fact, we really lost track of all of our processes and procedures…LIKE PROOF READING.
Before signing hundreds of letters as the Congressman, I’d always have two additional sets of eyes on my letters…except this time. We’d lost, colleagues were bailing ship for new jobs and I’d wanted that extra responsibility, remember?!
So out went a couple hundred of my letters…potentially my last correspondence as the Congressman before I found a new job. As with every mass mailing, every now and again a letter would come back undeliverable, in one case, I opened a letter to see which I’d need to resend. I smugly read through my excellent letter and then noticed that instead of referencing the national ELECTIONS four or five times…
I wrote about the national ERECTIONS.
I was mortified…and still to this day get nervous every time I type the word out.