I covered a major AARP advocacy effort on Capitol Hill for the AARP Bulletin, part of the behemoth association’s editorial arm. Over 500 volunteers from around the country descended on Congress to demand that they cut waste, not Medicare or Social Security benefits. I followed the West Virginia contingent as it went from office to office. Some offices were downright hostile to the red shirt-wearing seniors. Their early 20-something receptionists barely held back sneers and eyerolls as they informed the volunteers that the “Senator is not in right now.” The contempt was not lost on the seniors who shot back “We’re doing this for you.” Other offices (Sen. Boxer, I’m looking at you) kicked me out, saying “No photography allowed.” News to me, punks. I definitely paid California state taxes this year, hold Senate press credentials and have never seen this policy invoked anywhere else. We’re talking reception areas, not inner sanctums. I protested, but complied- no use getting into trouble mid-assignment. There were plenty of other offices that were more than happy to grant full access.
The volunteers were sweet, determined and inspiring and I’m glad to have had the opportunity to spend the day with them.