Skip to content

It’s not every day someone chronicles the aftermath of a fall from grace.  

But former Politico reporter Joe Williams did just that in his tell-all piece in The Atlantic, “My Life as a Retail Worker: Nasty, Brutish, and Poor .” Williams went to work at a sporting goods retail store, the only job he could find after an on-air gaffe and negative press about his personal life landed him out of a job and without many prospects.  

He writes:

“Of course, I had no idea what a modern retail job demanded. I didn’t realize the stamina that would be necessary, the extra, unpaid duties that would be tacked on, or the required disregard for one’s own self-esteem. “

Williams goes on to talk about the indignity of being searched after each shift, the extra unpaid duties including taking out mounds of trash and mopping bathroom floors. He touches on minimum wage and overtime — things Hill staffers are exempt from under the Fair Labor Standards Act but that are real issues for the rest of the working world. He also laments the great divide between his old life and new.

“Having once supervised an 80-member news division of a major metropolitan newspaper, the first weeks on my new job triggered a self-esteem meltdown. Flygirl, a supervisor half my age with a high school diploma, critiqued my shirt folding. I fruitlessly searched the shoe stockroom for the right size and style for an impatient customer. I silently prayed no one who knew me would come in during my shift.”

Hill Navigator recommends this as a read for anyone who constantly wonders about their own job happiness and well-being. Whether you are reading this sitting at your desk sorting constituent mail, drinking a latte at your best job ever or while wondering if your current job will ever promote you — now is as good a time as any to take stock that things can change. Quickly.  

The people at the top — you included — do not always stay there for very long. It’s worth your time and energy to maintain your connections and continue to make new ones. Sure, it’s good to know lots of chiefs of staff, but keep in mind that the staff assistants won’t always be answering phones. They — like you and Joe Williams — are on the move to bigger and better things.  

(h/t to Clinton Yates’s Lunchline for the recommendation.)  


Recent Stories

Menendez rejects New Jersey Democrats’ calls to resign after indictment

Photos of the week ending September 22, 2023

Dressing down — Congressional Hits and Misses

Menendez indictment comes with Democrats playing 2024 defense

Sen. Bob Menendez and wife indicted on federal bribery charges

Hill worries mount about delays in arming Ukraine