After arriving in our nation's capital just in time for President Barack Obama's inauguration, I walked the short distance from my Capitol Hill apartment to my new internship at The McLaughlin Group.
Wide-eyed and willing to work, I introduced myself to the staff and took my place at a small cubicle, determined to make this wonderful opportunity worthwhile. Then, something strange, perhaps more so scary, happened.
From a speaker built into the ceiling just above my new desk, I heard the voice of the iconic political pundit, John McLaughlin.
"Let's go! Let's go! Come on, you little *&*#*! Bring it down! Bring it down," bellowed McLaughlin. Immediately, my spine straightened and my mouth went dry. As I was attempting to regain my composure, the rest of the staff sprang into action.
We gathered in McLaughlin's office for the morning staff meeting, just two days away from the taping of our half-hour commentary show. Attempting to conceal myself in a corner, I watched in awe as ideas were discussed, developed, and discarded by staff members and McLaughlin himself.
Loaded with assignments from the meeting, I returned to my desk and began what I thought would surely be a wonderful experience at The McLaughlin Group. Then, my new boss called me to his office.
"Across the street is a small diner," he explained. "I'll expect my usual breakfast platter in no more than 15 minutes from now."
Not long after I asked for clarification on his food order did a small plastic cup fly by my head and strike the wall behind me, thrown by one of the greatest political minds of his generation.
"Do you need your hand held already?" asked this great journalistic figure. "Just get the hell out of here and get it done!"
Such was my life for three months at The McLaughlin Group. Over time I became a trusted writer for the show, playing a fairly prominent role in the production of a nationally televised program.
Trusted or not, it was widely known around Washington that no one escaped the wrath of John McLaughlin. After learning of my internship, many people could only muster a seemingly obligatory look of compassion.
Throughout my time in Washington, I appreciated that compassion. I still do. My outlook, however, has changed a bit.
Did John McLaughlin help me to be a better writer? Yes. Did his abrasive management style, while endlessly frustrating, prepare me for the professional world? Yes. Did I become a more well-rounded journalist, and person, through my experiences at The McLaughlin Group? Yes.
Stopping to think about it, that's really all I could have asked for.