Previous Next

Preparing for the Big Time

Posted on Wed Dec 22nd, 2021 @ 11:05pm by Ms. Sara Gilmore (*) & Mrs. Barbara Ramsay (*)

Mission: So Help Me, God
Location: Transition Team Offices, Eisenhower Executive Office Building
Timeline: Friday, January 13, 11:45am

The energy in the transition offices is alive and bustling, as usual. Several conversations are sparked after the President-elect is seen leaving for lunch with PR mogul Arianna Wildman. Jim Brady had left with the two of them just in case the President-elect needed his assistance on the go, leaving her alone to run the outside office and field all of the walk ins. This was strictly against protocol of course, as none of them had appointments. Now that Helman was gone, however, the walk ins had simple settled into a few nice conversations of their own, breaking her concentration. She would have to take a jaunt over to her boss's desk soon and ask him to set down some additional ground rules.

"Will you people get the hell out of here?!" came a booming and declarative voice from the outer office's entrance. At its sounding, the half-dozen staffers who had unwisely gathered in the space to chat jumped simultaneously and started for the door. "The President-elect's outer office is not a damn lobby, you dolts."

Barbara Ramsay, the woman on the other side of the booming voice, wore a short silver hair cut to suit her age, large and round brown glasses, a hot pink blazer, and a frown that could startle the devil. She was tough as nails, a Chicago native and family friend of the Helmans. A friend to Tara Helman's parents, she was connected to Gabriel when he was pursuing his doctorate at Harvard. She went on to achieve his dreams, serving as President of DePaul University, and he went on to achieve hers as President of the United States. Their families had gotten quite close to each other in Indianapolis during her service as the President and CEO of EdChoice. After so much time as a teacher, administrator, and lobbyist, she was now serving as the Chair for his transition team and, after January 20th, one of the President's closest advisers.

Barr, as friends and family called her, was technically the boss of the transition staff until they entered the White House. She could make them shake and run with ease through her forceful personality and almost regal demeanor. Sara felt uncomfortable having the woman standing in the office.

"It didn't look like you wanted them in here, Sara." she commented, still leaning against the frame of the door.

"No, ma'am, I didn't." Sara answered, her heart starting to pound in her chest. "But that's okay, it happens."

"It shouldn't happen. I'm going to talk to Patrick O'Hare about this; get him to keep this area clear."

The woman was talking about having a conversation with Sara's direct superior, the man who was soon to serve as Director of Oval Office Operations, a job which typically had the most direct control over the President's schedule and people's access to him. This was a daunting prospect, as she didn't want him to think she was incompetent or weak. Even as the campaign staff secretary, she hadn't been great with conflict and normally avoided it like the plague.

"It's okay, ma'am. It's not that big a deal-"

"No, it is that big a deal, Sara." Barr cut back, her face still locked in a neutral frown, her fingers clinched tightly around her porcelain coffee mug. "This isn't about you or them, it's about Gabriel Sidney Helman and the job we need to help him do. He's going to need his office to be clear and accessible, not crowded, loud, and confused. I would have thought you would understand that. It's your job to keep it clear in here. Patrick is a glorified scheduler."

Sara said nothing, her large blue eyes twinkling over the older woman with a sad sort of uneasiness. Her lips parted but she said nothing. She had nothing to say.

"Toughen up, girl. You're going to need to control the flow of personel into the Oval Office in just a week. Do you understand? That'll mean saying no to more important people than a few staffers. Department heads; senators; cabinet secretaries." Barr asked, neutrally still.

"Yes, I do." Sara said, nodding rather sheepishly. "And I'll do better, ma'am."

"Good." Barr responded, and then shifted her weight slightly, lifting the mug to her lips and sipping gently. "Now, how are you handling the job otherwise?"

“It’s going alright. A Midwest girl in the nation’s capital; it’s a big adjustment. You might be surprised how small the apartments can get around here.” Sara said, offering a smile and trying to connect with Barr in some small way. The older woman returned the smile, but thinly.

“Well, yes, I’ve heard they can be.” Barr said. She was a Chicago native, but her father was quite wealthy. She had amassed quite the fortune herself on top of her inheritance. She knew more of manors than of small apartments. “If you work hard, one day you might have some space to stretch out your legs. What about the access, Sara? Working so close to the President can be a very powerful and memorable experience.”

“The President-elect is an amazing man, Mrs. Ramsay. So caring and positive. It’s inspiring, ma’am, honestly.” She answered genuinely, her eyes twinkling with admiration. She’d worked with him for three years as an intern and then as the Staff Secretary for his campaign. She’d always felt he’d barely noticed her until her recent promotion.

Barbara Ramsay looked at the 20-something with skepticism in her eyes. She didn’t say anything for several moments, and then, suddenly, a sound escaped from her thin lips.

“Right..”she said, quiet enough that it almost went unheard. “You need to be sure that this admiration you have for him remains professional.”

“Oh…of course!” Sara said with a surprised expression on her face. Did Ramsay interpret her administration for Helman as romantic? If so, it was an embarrassing nightmare. She felt the need to explain herself further. “I didn’t mean…I would never-“

“Save it, Gilmore. Just keep your eyes on your work and don’t do anything that might ruin your career just as it’s getting started.”

Was she threatening her now? Sara had always found Barr intimidating and mysterious, but this was a new level. She was speechless. All she could think to do was to nod sheepishly and watch as the woman, old enough to be her grandmother, turned and stepped slowly from the room, leaving her alone with her dread. This was going to be very awkward in the future.

"Oh crap." she muttered to herself, and then turned back to her scheduling work.


Previous Next