You are asked to arrive two hours early. With nothing but your laptop, a communal wooden table, and large TV screens playing hours of CNN, you’re more productive in those two hours than you were in your previous eight at work.
The venue has left freebies on the seats. By the time you get there, two hours before the debate, the freebies are already gone. Journalists are fast.
You wonder if anyone else in the bullpen had a previous stint as a wedding magazine editor and was mentally converting the press room into an event space. (It’s easy—turn the desks into banquet tables, swap out the laptops for place settings, turn the TVs into centerpieces, and you’ve got an industrial-chic thing going on.) You decide that the Venn diagram for political reporters/weddings editors probably has little overlap, at least outside of D.C.
There is a clear delineation in dress between on-camera reporters, print/web reporters, and you.
You find that the hardest working people at the debate are not the campaigns, the staffers, or the security. They’re the people manning the food trucks out back.
You only ask two questions the entire night: What is the WiFi password, and where are the aforementioned food trucks. You are embarrassed to admit that you asked the second question first.
You watch the other journalists take photos and shoot video. You wonder if all of their B-roll have footage of you chowing down on the fare from said food trucks.
When the Broadway performer sings the National Anthem, you wonder about whether or not to stand. What are the rules about standing when you’re watching the Anthem being performed on a TV showing footage from the building next door? You glance at the person next to you for guidance; he’s German.
The coffee is free. It’s good. A half-hour into the debate, you get one for yourself. You reach for the milk; it’s empty. Journalists are fast.
You’re constantly struggling between the desire to go use the ultra-fancy porta potties and the worry that they’ll talk about the one issue you’re professionally interested in while you do.
Relief washes over you when it becomes clear that you and the German will become please-watch-my-stuff-while-I-use-the-fancy-porta-potties buddies.
Looking around sheepishly, you wonder if anyone would catch you searching, “When does the debate end?”
You don’t have Imposter Syndrome; you are an imposter.