Yesterday I was fortunate enough that my boss reminded me that Congressman Lee Terry was going to be at Petrow’s on 60th & Center for a couple of hours to mix and mingle with constituents. These small morning gatherings at area restaurants and coffee houses give a more intimate, one-on-one opportunity for the public to express concerns and ask questions.
Since our daughter Megan has been following national politics and showed interest for the last three Presidential elections I asked if she’d be interested in attending. Megan and I arrived at 8:15 and Congressman Lee Terry and a companion of his was already seated and deep in discussion with a few locals. Megan and I were seated several tables away from his group so we took our menus and ordered breakfast. A short time later, my boss and his wife arrived. By this time several locals had arrived and pulled up chairs around the table where Congressman Terry was seated.
My boss and his wife engaged us in conversation about public education and some challenges presented in today’s academic environment. The restaurant was getting crowded with the typical morning breakfast crowd. In particular, I noticed an entire table of individuals signing! I have always loved sign language~more about that later. Channel 7 News arrived and video taped several minutes of conversation with the constituents at the table. After they stopped filming and left, my boss suggested that if we wanted a chance to talk we just had to go up to the table and introduce ourselves.
Megan and I approached his table, he noticed us approaching and stood up, shook our hands and asked where we were from. We had a seat at the nearest table and began talking. She informed him that she is 17 years old and educated at home. Megan specifically had two questions she wanted to ask.
The first question: She was wondering what it was going to take to get more Congressional members working in a bipartisan manner. He acknowledged that it would be best–and the American people were wanting more cooperation between Republicans and Democrats. He stated that it was why he isn’t always popular because he does make it a point to try his best to “work across the isle.”
Her second question was about education and “why the strong emphasis on math and science; what about the arts?” He shared with Megan “to be honest, I wasn’t the greatest in math either.” He stated that in order to get most jobs in today’s economy you had to have good math and science skills. He said that several of the people sitting at his table were from all over the local area–one individual owned a factory where there were 60 job vacancies! There just aren’t enough skilled people to fill the jobs. I shared with him that I worked at Offutt AFB and he asked if I was going to be affected by the furlough. I stated that I would be. He said “We’re trying to arrange it so there isn’t a furlough!” I shared that if we all were able to reduce, reuse, recycle, make simple….and that if there were more collaboration among agencies, perhaps we could work smarter with fewer resources! He wondered what Megan’s plans were after graduation and she said she’s was still trying to figure that out.
Megan is a typical 17 year old who’s still searching for what she wants to do with her life. She has many passions, interests and skills–she just doesn’t know yet what she wants to do with them. She’s taken Latin, and is learning Spanish and Gaelic. She’s a great musician ~ loves to sing, plays piano. She has also rewritten the book, “The Picture of Dorian Gray.” She decided she wanted a better outcome for Dorian and several years ago began her first draft. She is on her third and final draft now. Congressman Terry encouraged her to pursue her interest in writing. He said, “I tell high school kids “You know what they call the best writer and speaker? — Boss!”” He said no matter what you do in life, you’ll be a success if you are able to write and speak well.
The companion with Congressman Terry stopped by and gave Megan Lee Terry’s business card and an information sheet with more information about the Congressional office. He also encouraged her to go to the Congressman’s website and sign up for the Congressional Medal of Honor–a really big deal for a young person to be able to add to their resume! He also promised that if we wanted, on his way out Terry would pose for a photo with her. About a half hour later, Congressman Terry had to depart and I was able to snap this photo:
It was a great opportunity to meet one of our elected officials in a relaxed environment and have the chance to ask candid question and converse person to person. If you are interested in an encounter of this sort you can learn when and where his next coffee conversations will be, just navigate to Congressman Lee Terry’s website and look at his Facebook posts.
On our way out, we had the chance to stop and visit with the remain people at the table where I noticed individuals signing and met a wonderful man named Joe and his friend/interpreter Monica. They are attendees at the Catholic Church of the Immaculate Conception. It was a gathering of people who used to belong to a bible study.
All in all, a great way to begin the weekend!
- Terry taps ex-Hastert aide as communications head (mysanantonio.com)
- Offutt gets temporary relief from job furloughs (omaha.com)