After participating in the Oklahoma Senate Page Program for four days, I have a new respect for politicians and people who enjoy exercise.
Having walked up and down, and up and down, and up and down countless flights of stairs, I was able to confirm my theory that working out just isn't for me.
The other 10 junior and senior pages and I arrived downtown at the Courtyard Marriott Hotel on a Sunday evening. After my parents and I got a briefing from our chaperon about what the week would entail — and constant reminders that my clothes must be conservative — I was able to go up to my room and meet the girl I would be living with for the next 96 hours of my life.
Luckily, Sarah and I got along great. She was the perfect roommate.
After my parents helped me get settled in, they wished me luck, knowing that I would not be able to use my phone that much.
There were only four rules that we absolutely had to follow.
1. Stay with the group.
2. Do not go in anyone else's room besides your own.
3. Keep your hands to yourself.
4. Be in your room by 10 p.m.
The pages were advised to be asleep by 10:30 p.m. so we could get eight hours of sleep to be well rested for the 12-hour workdays.
Of course, being the difficult girls we are, Sarah and I didn't go to sleep until after midnight each night. By the last day, there wasn't a word to describe how tired we were. We were past the point of exhaustion.
Each morning, the pages met for breakfast and headed for the state Capitol. Most days didn't go as planned, and we would leave the hotel at 7:45 a.m. — the time we were supposed to check in for work. We just couldn't get enough of the breakfast buffet.
Our day as Senate pages consisted mostly of running errands back and forth between senators, delivering committee packets and sitting in on committee meetings.
I had the opportunity to attend the General Government, Judiciary and Energy committees.
A majority of the time I just sat there, but occasionally I would refill the water pitchers. My favorite part of the day was when session began.
Each of the pages was assigned a specific spot and had to perform certain duties. A page could be assigned on the floor to attend to senators' needs, outside the chamber taking messages from lobbyists or simply staying in the Senate lobby running errands.
The worst job of all was senate roll call.
Lucky me, I got it twice.
The job consisted of walking up and down a hallway where the senators' offices are, yelling “Senate roll call!” until all of the senators are in the chamber.
During this time, which usually lasted about 15 minutes, an annoying bell rang. However, it provided me with a good rhythm to yell to. I attempted to make the best of the embarrassing situation.
I was teased countless times by lobbyists and passing senators who would say “Senate what?” or “I can't hear you that well. Can you say it louder?”
The best night out of the entire experience for me when we had Senate Pageville, a mock session.
The day before the event, we were presented with four bills. Four pages were authors of the bills, one page was the majority floor leader and another page was the presiding officer.
I served as the author of Senate Bill 63, which was about head injuries. That night I researched the topic, prepared my argument and thought of any questions or debate that might be thrown at me.
My bill passed by a landslide with 10 ayes and only one nay.
When we presented our bills, some arguments got heated. But we were mostly tired from power-walking back and forth across the Capitol for 12 hours.
The night before the last day, I couldn't sleep. Even though I only spent a few days with the other pages, we became a family.
On the van ride back to the hotel, everyone exchanged phone numbers so we could stay in touch.
When I saw my dad already waiting for me upon our arrival my heart dropped into my stomach.
As I watched the hotel fade away, I realized exactly how much the week had taught me, not only about the stressful job politicians have to go through, but about myself and what I wanted to do in my future.
I have always planned on majoring in journalism and political science and then attending law school. Having talked with senators about their lives and what they accomplished in their years as college students, I left the program with a passion to do my best.