Ah, recess. The glorious time of year when Hill staffers can take a guilt-free vacation, catch up on backburner projects, and binge on extra-long lunches. I don’t know about you guys, but it totally restores my enthusiasm about becoming a full-fledged adult.
And, despite still having ‘work’ to do, this magical professional anomaly we know as ‘recess’ has a striking number of parallels to the recess days of old… the ones we spent kicking soccer balls, playing truth or dare, and chalking up sidewalks without a political agenda.
Games, Games, Games
Playing games was one of my personal favorites in middle school. From Pogs to Pokémon, and everything in between, delivering swift and total defeat to classmates was a great way to get a confidence boost before math class.
These days, the games have changed (except Pokémon, apparently) but the quest for dominance and superiority over our peers remains the same. Whether it’s a ‘friendly’ game of Hearts or Sequence during the afternoon lull or a spirited game of beer dice before Thursday night beer league softball, Congressional recess delivers all the old recess feels and makes the struggles of adulting a little easier to bear.
You can catch up with your friends
Remember how torturous it was to wait until recess to share an amazing idea, a juicy piece of gossip, or a snotty remark about the kid behind you who NEVER stopped kicking your chair? The second you burst out of those double doors into the fresh air was akin to finally being released from a really long game of jinx.
That’s basically the feeling Hill staffers have during prolonged session weeks. There is no time to meet friends for lunch and evenings are filled with happy hours where you’re forced to feign professionalism. But during recess, you can meet those long lost friends for lunch at some glorious restaurant that is NOT the Longworth cafeteria and let the dirt fly.
You have extra time to finish your (home)work
For every time our moms let us stay up late on Thursday nights to watch E.R., there was a Friday morning recess dedicated to finishing up neglected homework.
Same is true for Congressional recess. Every time we rescheduled that meeting with a particularly obnoxious lobbyist, every afternoon we chose to troll Twitter rather than researching for the upcoming op-ed… recess is the time to finally bite the bullet and knock out the work we’ve shamelessly neglected.
In the good old days, students would divide into teams and wage epic battles against one another for schoolyard glory. Kickball, football, soccer, dodgeball… the sport didn’t matter. The only thing that mattered was demolishing the other team and rubbing their noses in it until recess the next day.
The competitions may be more sophisticated now, but the underlying idea is the same – win. During recess, offices on the Hill compete with each other in all sorts of ways, including digital and social media challenges.
You discover all the new jams
For the kids less interested in getting sweaty and more interested in becoming future hipsters, recess was an opportunity to exchange mixed CDs put together the night before from an extensive LimeWire collection and walk around the playground, bopping to the beat of a Discman while avoiding being hit by stray balls.
Now, instead of exchanging CDs, we can let Pandora play all day and send links to our friends with hot new jams. And while the technology has changed, our annoying friends who claimed to have discovered cool new music before anyone else remain the same.
You can pursue pet projects
Some of our more ambitious classmates would occasionally spend recess doing productive things, such as music lessons, writing short stories, or rehearsing for the school play.
Of course, Hill staffers can’t pursue completely personal activities because, you know, the American people pay us to work on their behalf. However, some of us have legislative interests that go outside our normal purview that we want to explore, and recess gives us an opportunity to pay a little more attention to those areas and help expand our resumes while still serving constituents.