Somewhere In DC

Published on July 12th, 2017

Somewhere in DC, a man parks his expensive car. He gets out and stares at his destination. He's nervous, and it's an unfamiliar emotion for him. He's a successful corporate attorney, turned K Street lobbyist, turned captain of industry. He's not used to being the least powerful man in the room.

Yet here he stands in front of an unremarkable townhouse with a remarkable chill in his heart. Stern bodyguards congregate at the entrance, their fashionable suits unable to conceal a demeanor and poise earned through extensive military experience. He starts towards them, rehearsing in his head his identity and reason for being at the gathering. He starts to speak, "Good evening, this is my first—" but their expressions and slight shift in body weight wordlessly inform him that they know who he is, and that he may enter.

He recognizes only half of the people at the table. Senators, CEOs, and celebrities intermingle with leaders of former and current dictatorships. He takes his seat next to the prince of a country he's never heard of, and accepts the disinterested glances of a dozen men and women to whom his tens of millions mean nothing. He's grateful to have this solid, wooden chair take over his weight. He feels small, and sits quietly while others slowly fill every remaining seat at the table.

As though sensing a desire to start the meeting, the entire room stops casual conversation and all divert their eyes to the man at the front of the room. A grayed man of 66, his comfort in leading this organization—and by extension the world—is a humbling sight. He firms his stance, acknowledges the room's attention with a slight nod, and begins to speak.

"Regarding the question of grain prices, it is the decision of the organization that they will continue to rise at a rate of 3% per quarter. Please inform your respective ministers and secretaries of agriculture."

Over the next two hours, the director carves up the world. Elections are decided. Coups are set in motion. Life-saving technological discoveries are surreptitiously swept under the rug. All the while, the room is silent and not a single emotion crosses the director's face.

"Finally..." the director forebodes. "Regarding the question—"

"...oh God help us..." someone interrupts quietly under his breath.

The director, taken aback by the break in hours of silence, stares direly into the eyes of the man who, through lack of self-discipline, broke a sacred decorum that dates back to the days of Jefferson.

"Forgive me, it's just that, it's just—"

"You have made your objections known, sir."

The man behind the outburst retreats further into his seat. The room returns its undivided attention to the director. The director begins again.

"Regarding the question of Washington DC's dress code, it is the decision of the organization that we'll continue to force people to wear dark, full suits when it's 105 degrees and humid outside."

Quiet sighs are the only audible reaction from the gathered attendants. The director dismisses them unceremoniously, and the group collectively returns to the helm of 21st century society, an unspoken question on their lips: "What have we done..."

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I imagine this scene pretty much every time I see someone in Western Business Attire in July.