The world looked a lot differently in 2010. Mary Fallin had not yet begun her reign of terror over the state of Oklahoma. Gary England was still on the TV. And The Lost Ogle still ranked hot girls and 1990s music videos. It was a simpler, better time to be alive.
In addition to that, Representative Purcy D. Walker of Elk City, America accepted my application to be a high school page for the Oklahoma House of Representatives. Though I only served for a week for the 52nd legislature, I came away with knowledge that will carry me through a lifetime.
Here are 8 things I learned as a page for the Oklahoma House of Representatives.
I learned not to take our lawmakers too seriously
Day one I sat in on a committee meeting on wind energy only to spend 30 minutes listening to two representatives argue over whose district has the most meth. Day three I sat on the page bench outside of the chamber waiting for an errand and watched as two grown ass reps got into a screaming match outside of the antique telephone booth. And throughout the week I honestly believe more representatives were paying attention to their Farmville profiles than the actual deliberations on the floor. I knew way before my TLO days that I shouldn’t take these guys too seriously.
I learned not to take myself too seriously
I remember how nervous and excited I was when I filled out the application to the page program. I made my first resume, practiced my handshake, and mom bought me my first jacket with shoulder pads. I thought I would be spending my days sending urgent messages from one lawmaker to another or delivering world changing bills across the chamber. When in reality I learned how to not screw up a coffee order and avoid getting my ass run over during the “roll call.”
Chris Benge had cold hands
At some point during our week, we had a quick photo op with then Speaker of the House Chris Benge, followed by an obligatory “thank you” handshake from the man. I was disappointed that after practicing my handshake with my dad the week leading up to my paging, I received the cold, quick grasp of Speaker Benge. From this I learned I can create and hold decade-long grudges over something insignificant pretty damn easily.
I’ve always talked with my hands
The above photo is of me defending my mock anti-texting and driving bill in the chamber. This photo is not only cringe-worthy for me because of how intensely I spoke with my hands. But also because I once thought that wearing a high school class ring, bow, and shoulder pads at the same time made me hip and professional.
I liked Jeri Askins
As snarky 18-year-old Hayley pointed out, Governor Brad Henry was not in his office that week. So our photos on the state seal were taken with then Lieutenant Governor Jeri Askins, who made a good impression on me. In fact, the first time I was eligible to vote, my teenage self had enough sense to vote for Askins over Mary Fallin for governor. Even though the main reason she got my vote was because Askins complemented my converse shoes after this picture was taken.
It prepared me for the future
When I returned from my service, my high school political science teacher told me he hoped my experience as a page for the Oklahoma House of Representatives would help me to develop an interest in state politics that would carry me through my adult career. And it did. I’ve used my understanding of state and local government to spend the last two years of my adult life calling our state lawmakers asshats in obscure blog posts for beer money. Teachers, be careful which students you empower. Because you might get what you wish for.
I am still proud of being voted “Page of the Week”
I even got a standing ovation from the bare minimum number of representatives who actually showed up to work on the last day of the legislative week. Because I am weirdly still proud of this, I have come to learn I probably peaked in high school.
There’s no hope left for me. Follow Hayley on twitter @squirrellygeek