The story of a Senator who stands up.
|Despite all the people in the senator's office it could not have been more quiet. A pleasant white light streamed in from windows which were common among the walls of the circular room and drenched the occupants in a warm heat. It might have brightened their feelings but today was a day which allowed for little comfort.
Each person was experiencing some sort of anxiety but all dealt with the emotion in their own silent way. The security guard posted by the entrance inspected a painting which hung on the wall while contemplating the family fight he had lost last night. The young secretary, worried about his career, aimlessly tapped a text message to a friend. The intern, wondering about a hefty car payment, reviewed his attire and fixed every crease he could find while constantly creating new ones to fix. But none were as anxious as the senator.
She stared into her computer screen in anticipation and found calmness increasingly difficult. Her mind darted from thought to thought each more troubling than the next, but she was not about to let any of these emotions overcome her. After all she was a senator and being such she thought herself above emotional issues and felt as if she had to maintain a stoic composure. Her ruse fooled everyone as they thought she was acting ordinary.
She did not feel ordinary. Today was election day, a day all elected people get a little queasy on.
The senator was staring into her rather outdated computer, displayed was a real time polling website with a bar graph dynamically reacting to new votes in real time. Several bars were represented but two rose far above the others, one green the other grey. Every point that heightened the grey bar made her twinge with pain. The graphs were close but green trended above the grey. She wished that she might find comfort in this but the senator had been here before and knew better.
The website crashed.
She reloaded the page.
She reloaded it several more times to no avail. This caused her to break the silence with an annoyed curse. Her emotion got the better of her for just a moment as she kicked the computer tower. Of course it didn’t work. Defeated and impatient she reluctantly restarted the computer.
Once rebooted the website continued to fail to load or update. She again agitatedly cursed.
In the corner of the room sat upon one of the several armchairs sat a dark skinned man in a 3 piece suit with a briefcase handcuffed to his arm. He was here for an appointment with the senator set for 3 hours from that moment but he had shown up early. In those three hours he had not said a word to anyone but the secretary who told him to sit in the chair until the senator was ready. He was very patient. Upon noticing the senators rage he almost as if by instinct checked his phone. He stood up and walked over to the senator's desk.
In a monotone yet stern voice the man requested to the senator all but the senator from the room. Confused but interested she agreed and ushered all but herself and the well dressed man into the hallway outside the room. The other people did not enjoy being disturbed and many frowned as they left but this was the height of any resistance.
The man introduced himself as a lobbyist for the National Corporate Lobbying Association (NCLA). This knowledge evoked instant skepticism from the senator. She had dealt with his type before: rich, persuasive, and above all untrustworthy. The senator was never happy to see this. They always wanted something and it was almost always something that compromised the senators values. Staying true to them with these guys around always proved a struggle as their pockets full of cash tried to turn the mind from reason.
Just as the senator anticipated the man began to describe his “deal”. He told her that they were offering her an island vacation if she would promise to work for the interests of the NCLA and sign a form declaring the partnership. This action while not technically illegal, (since no direct contribution was being made by the lobbying group) was textbook bribery.
The senator, who always thought herself a defender of democratic values, was instantly offended at the proposition. She began to debate the lobbyist. For her it was a great way to release her frustration with the broken computer. The senator accused him of selling off democracy. As she went on and her mind began to rush out new words the reasoned attacks soon turned into an emotional outburst. In one such moment of heat she even told him that his choice in career was worse than any terrorist. The lobbyist, a man who despite his middle eastern descent and darkened skin tone had been born in a nearby metropolitan area instantly took personal offense and angrily accused the senator of blatant racism. She denounced it as preposterous and declared the comments intentions to be purely hyperbole meant to emphasize how much she despised any form of bribery.
Outside the office the people who were crowded into the hallway became interested in the muffled yells that signaled an argument in the senator's office. The security guards prepared to run in at a moment's notice.
Back inside the conversation remained a heated situation. The lobbyist declared his intention to bring the NCLA against the senator and publicize the accusations of racism. The senator, slightly worried, apologized for the insensitive words but enforced her anger with the NCLA and the lobbyist himself. Wrought with anger the lobbyist declared that she would not hear the end of this. Sick of the senator and with a strangely confident body language the lobbyist marched from the room pushing past the people in the crowded hallway with a glare.
The occupants of the hall were taken aback and for a good moment sat silently still. The senator bid them stay away for a moment while she regained her composure.
The many people of the awkwardly remained standing in the hallway and spread out from the clump which they had created before.
With now crippling anxiety the senator took a drink of her beverage and sat back for a moment. It had been a tough day. Life had dealt her an unlucky hand this morning. How could it possibly get any worse? It hit her. There was one way in which the day could get even more distressing. The election. The thought led to a sudden boost in her anxiety as she rushed back to the task of troubleshooting the computer.
She tried for another 15 minutes to try and get the website to work before it finally did. As she worked her mind span and brewed a headache inside her. The senator wanted desperately to take some medicine, but that would mean tasking the secretary or the intern to fetch it. She was not yet ready for human interactions. Pushing through the pain she made the clicks necessary to view the website. When it finally worked what she saw made her wish it had stayed broken.
Grey had won the election. She could not believe her eyes. Fifteen and 3 tenths percentage points between the two of them. The senator stared with disbelief. For several moments she just stared. Thoughts welled in her brain. Confusion came first. How could this be? Was a mistake made? What do I do now? There were no answers. Next came an unbearable sense of concern. This was her purpose; she had worked her whole life. Ever since her college years, many ago, she had dreamed of her current political career. It was hard and treacherous and awful at times but to her every moment was bliss. Her title was lost. Where would she go now? She moved on to a concern for her employees. With her decline they would lose their jobs. Their careers, their dreams, also interrupted. But finally her mind brought her to anger, an emotion the stoic senator always tried to suppress.
Anger was brought on by an idea that had just glimpsed her mind but a moment before and now was the focus of her mind: How could this be? It could not. She had been ahead on all polls and was ahead before her computer crash. Furthermore, what a peculiar time for the computer crash. And why did the lobbyist seem to be expecting it?
Questions but no answers.
Her speculation was going places and it led to the running theory that some foul play on the part of the NCLA had occurred. It was rash, unlikely, but she convinced herself. The next step, think of ways to get to the truth.