By Nancy Giddens
“It must be nice.” If I’ve heard that statement once, I’ve heard it one thousand times. “It must be nice to eat steak and lobster all the time.” “It must be nice to drink expensive wine all day.” “It must be nice only to work half of a year.” Yes, that would be nice if it were true. The misconceptions of lobbying are rampant. We do enjoy nice meals and wine on occasion. We do have an incredible amount of autonomy. We even have more expensive shoes than most. Though, everything has its price. We cannot escape our phones. We cannot plan for anything during session after March 1. And, our weekday dining options are not what most presume.
Everyday at noon, the House and Senate break for committee hearings, during which they eat catered food. Lobby corps members sit in the hearings, smell the food, and watch our elected officials dine on a variety of American, Mexican, or Chinese cuisine. Our stomachs growl and blood sugar drops. Typically around 2:00 the committees adjourn and we have a brief opportunity to eat prior to floor action reconvening. Our options include consuming a selection from the highly popular and overly used basement vending machines, circle hearing rooms and scavenge the remaining cold morsels, or dine at the newly renovated and greatly appreciated Capitol cafeteria. While my team has indulged in all three, we use groceries from Schnucks more than anything.
The Place – Missouri State Capitol, where you can find an assortment of cold, leftover food and deserts. After dining like a scavenger for three or four years, I’ve changed my tactic and now bring in assorted groceries from Schnucks and store them in a gracious host’s office. The food isn’t fancy but it is convenient and quick.
The People – The people are different in this case. It isn’t the great checkers at Schnucks, but rather the people that attempt to steal our dried fruit, dark chocolate mint M&Ms, and diet cokes. You know who you are…and so do we!
The Product – Our grocery selection remains mostly the same. Prior to Jessica joining our team, Cooper and I delighted on bologna, Doritos and Oreos. Jessica since has classed up our selections to now include turkey, flat rounds, almonds, cheese with Triscuits, dried fruit, granola bars and dark chocolate mint M&Ms. My waistline is better for the change and Cooper’s heart is happier too. The highlight of our “products” is when Kara Cornejo sends a treat with her husband…the lady can bake!
The Price – We spend around $40 each week for our dining, not including occasions when we can vacate the premises and feast elsewhere. The price really doesn’t matter in this case, as price-sensitivity isn’t a factor during long days.
The Pizzazz – Early adjournment. Dining inside the Capitol has its perks. It isn’t too often I see Jessica take a bite of rotten ham or Cooper ingest outdated peanut butter, but early adjournment is absolutely the best alternative…so we can relish in those lobbying misconceptions and savor Jefferson City’s finest steaks and wine.