Tommy Maggio walks to his black Lincoln Town Car, parked as it is every Monday through Friday in the Rayburn parking garage near the C Street entrance. He opens the rear left door, reaches in and produces a copy of the Congressional Record, dated July 19, 2005. Leafing through the thick volume, he stops abruptly at page H6075, which includes a floor speech delivered by Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.).
[IMGCAP(1)]It wasn’t the stuff of which headlines are made. The speech lasted all of five minutes. It touched on none of the major political issues of the day. Most Americans probably haven’t read it, and probably never will. But for Tommy and his wife, Anita, it was as heartwarming a gesture as they had ever received, and the two watched from the House Gallery as the Florida Congresswoman delivered the speech.
“Over the years,” said Ros-Lehtinen, “all of us have come to know Tommy Maggio. If you are lucky enough to know Tommy, you will know that he will be retiring from the Rayburn House garage after working there for an amazing 32 years.”
But Ros-Lehtinen reserved the bulk of her speech for Anita, her office manager and friend over the course of her 16 years in Congress. “It is with great sadness that I
bid a fond farewell to one of the most special women I have ever met, a trusted friend and a member of the Ros-Lehtinen and Capitol Hill family, Anita Maggio. Anita will be forever remembered in our hearts,” Ros-Lehtinen said. Anita has “built a network of friends that is unequaled anywhere on the Hill. Everyone she meets is touched by her kindness and warmth.”
Tommy and Anita Maggio, husband and wife for 42 years, are set to retire together this Friday having logged a combined 66 years working on Capitol Hill. And Ros-Lehtinen isn’t the only one promising to shed a few tears when the happy couple rides off into the sunset. Tommy Maggio, over the course of his 32 years at the garage, managed to befriend many Members of Congress fortunate enough to pass through the C Street entrance.
When Tommy Maggio describes his job, it sounds rather nondescript — he shows everyone where to park and verifies that all the cars display, on their rear window, a small American flag sticker. But his job was more than keeping the Rayburn parking garage running in an orderly fashion. Rod Myers, Tommy Maggio’s supervisor, said in a letter announcing Maggio’s retirement that he “befriended many Members of Congress through the years and always greeted them with respect and a friendly smile.”
Nothing but the “Good Lord almighty” has kept Tommy — also a veteran of four years in the Navy — going for this long. “I’ve been treated real good here,” he says. “Everybody’s been nice to me. Makes you feel honored.”
Whatever the subject — his friendships with Members of Congress, his post-retirement plans, his responsibilities at the parking garage — Tommy Maggio returns to the phrase “everybody’s been nice to me.” He says this is why he loves his job and hesitates to leave it for good. Unlike much of the work force, Tommy doesn’t dread the alarm clock rousing him from bed on Monday morning. Why would he, when everyone’s so nice?
Tommy is renowned for his extensive knowledge of House history. But the one lesson he’s most eager to impart to future House historians is “that it’s a nice place to work. Lots of nice people. Very nice.”
For someone with so many friends in high places, Tommy Maggio remains as humble as they come and has been surprised by the attention heaped on him as he approaches retirement. “I never knew I was appreciated this much,” he says. “I’ve never felt so important in my life.”
A native Washingtonian, Tommy Maggio is reluctant to call his hometown the best city in the world, but he will say “it’s a nice city,” adding, “I haven’t left it yet.” And he’s certainly not going to go searching for greener pastures as long as his beloved Washington Nationals cling, however tenuously, to first place in the National League East. Tommy calls himself an avid Nats fan, and he is excited to fill his post-retirement calendar with trips to see his hometown team play.
But beyond the occasional trip to the ballpark, how is he going to keep himself busy with all this free time on his hands? Tommy has a simple, and direct, answer: “I’m gonna do whatever I feel like.”
Well, not quite whatever he feels like. Not if Ros-Lehtinen has anything to say about it. She’s happy for Tommy, but looking out for Anita’s interests, too. “We love you, Tommy,” she said in her floor speech, but “please do not make her cook for you every single night. Anita deserves a rest. Be good to her.”