Producer’s note: Someone on Quora asked: What is a true personal story that people have a hard time believing? Here is one of the best answers that’s been pulled from the thread.
It was college. I had a summer internship at the Clinton White House.
What was it like? Hmm….you know Charlie in West Wing? How he got to be right by the Oval Office and see the President often and they got to know each other and the President took him under his wing and gave him special pens and things?
I had none of that. I listened to speeches and typed them up. The technical word is “transcribe.” I also did “copying,” “collating” and occasional “binder clipping.” I could see the White House from our building. There were no political banters with White House Staff. No avuncular chats with the President. There were no pens.
It happened that my boss’s name was also Ellen. One day I was covering for her assistant who was out with the flu. It was awesome to have a break from the copier. I felt promoted. I felt big. A little scared.
It was going fine when she got a phone call on her line. I answered it for her outside her office.
Me: “Hello, Ellen’s Office”
On the phone: “Hey Ellen, it’s Hillary. What do you think about…..”
The First Lady was calling me! She knows my name! She wants to know what I think!!
Me: “HOLY SHIT IT’S YOU!!!”
I just swore at the First Lady of the United States
PANIC. SLAM DOWN PHONE
I just hung up on the First Lady of the United States.
Yes, it is as bad as it seems. Overwhelmed by the awesomeness of talking to the First Lady, thinking she meant me directly when she said “Ellen” I got verbal diarrhea and swore at her. Then, in shock, I slammed down the phone like it was radioactive. Maybe thinking that would undo everything. Then realizing that I had done that, yelled out an even worse obscenity.
The rest happened pretty quickly:
My boss yelled out “What is going on out there!?” the First Lady’s aide called back immediately, I apologized. She said “can you put us through, please” I put the call through.
My boss never mentioned it to me. I was too embarrassed to ever look at her again. I went back to copying. I never did meet Hillary.