The party's over.
No matter how hard all the young Jimmy Carter believers worked during the campaign, no matter the 20-hour work days at transition head-quarters, there was no denying that all the grief and sacrifice was . . . fun. But now they've gotten their man elected, watched him sworn in. And where are they?
Up on Harrison Street NW, in the three-story stone house where up to 22 transition workers and friends stayed during Inauguraton week, two young women keep a vigil at the kitchen table. One is waiting to be interviewed for a job at the State Department; the other is waiting for a afterviewed for a job at the State Department; the other is waiting for a call from the Carter staff that will tell [TEXT OMITTED FROM SOURCES]
They've waiting hoping. The mood her where to apply. Anywhere is different now. Where there was furious energy, a year-long euphoria fueled by Carter's call for "a new commitment, a new America," a "what-am-I-going-to-do-for-Jimmy Carter" selflessness, there is uncertainly, a letdown.
"The excitement is gone," says Malinda Howard, from Americus, Ga., who wants very much for her phone to ring, to be told she is wanted. "Before, there was always something the debates, Nov.2, coming to Washington for the transition, the Inauguration. Now, there's nothing extraordinary going to happen."
Now there is only one overriding concern. "We have to look out for ourselves," she says. She'd rather the way she was, submerged in the Carter cause."I loved the campaign, I really loved it."
And so did her friend, Betty Mizek. "I liked that kind of like, moving around. Now I realize I can't do that." Now, having turned down a secretarial job at the White House, hoping to hook on at State, Mizek has mixed emotions. "I don't want to become a Washington," she says. "BBBut, it may sound corny, I'd like to be in the same city as Jimmy Carter."
Others have given up that hope. Lorena Thrasher, one of the original Carter volunteers, who worked for him as long ago as 1974, even before he announced he was running, is going home to Lawrenceville, Ga., outside Atlanta.
"The opening haven't been that great," she says. She, too, was offered a job, as a typist at the White House. "It's the kind of a big letdown to turn down any job at the White House," she says, but she did.
"I was given more responsibility during the campaign because people knew me. But the Secretary of Agriculture doesn't know me."
Nor does he know her friend, Curtis Allen, another Carter worker since 1974. He found little satisfaction while job-shopping the other day at Agriculture. He said he and Thrasher were heading home, "the sooner the better."
They've not alone. Of the 450 persons who recently worked for two months in the transition office in the HEW North building, only about one-fourth are expected to remain in government jobs beyond the 90-day appointments that many are being offered.
The post-transition period is a soul-searching time for some, trying to sort out their futures. "If you thought it was the transition period before, now it's really the transition," one worker says.
It's "tense," according to one waiting for a call that has yet to come from the administration. It's the dawning of reality for those who held overly optimistic expectations. Now they must settle for less, or nothing.
The pullout that has surprised many campaign and transition workers is Phil Wise's. A native of Plains and a longtime Carter supporter, the 25-year-old Wise resigned the other day after briefly holding the position of executive director of the Democratic National Committee. He was perceived by some lower-ranking transition colleagues as something of a hero for cracking into a position of authority - only to leave. Apparently he was driving South yesterday; he could not be reached.
"I saw his car packed up," says one former transition worker, incredulously.
"He kept telling people he wasn't staying, but nobody believed him," says another. His sister, Gwen, in Plains, says he has been "working a long, long time and just wanted a rest."
Other transition workers apparently are finding happiness here. A number are heading for the Justice Department. Viola Harkins, the Carter campaign's very first letter-opener, is now a White House receptionist. Steve Shoob, a friend of Chip Carter, the President's son, and a mail room major-domo during the transition, says he's "implementing a new mail system to save money" at the White House.
Scores of others are looking around. This is because they tend to be "referred" by the administration for jobs they never coveted. "People are being fussy about what jobs they get," says a former campaign worker. "You could be a file clerk during the campaign but to do it for the next four years, that's a different story."
Willi Delaney-Barge feels the same way. Once, she headed the volunteer workers in the campaign. She was in a command position. Now she's a secretary in the White House speechwriting office.
"It's a job, it feeds me, it's not leaving me out in the cold," she says, in a downbeat mood that has replaced her campaign ebullience. "I had hoped for an administrative job where I could get some recognition. I can't get any recognition as a secretary."
John Boykin, who used to be a railroad brakeman between Birmingham and Atlanta, wanted to be the administration's ombudsman, a position Carter created and quickly filed with someone else. Then Boykin, who had helped organize environmental support for Carter, hoped for a slot at Interior.
He paced his small, basement apartment last week, waiting for The Call. The phone rang. "It's Jimmy Carter," he said, laughing before he picked it up. Early this week he finally got the news - proceed to Agruculture.
Boylin - who campaigned in Alaska, totaled his car in an ice skid there, and figures he's down $10,000 in lost salary from working for Carter - is one who stubbornly refuses to get discouraged. If it's Agriculture, so be it.
"I think that each person who gets a job in the administration has the same mandate Jimmy Carter has, to help the poor people of this country. I'm interested in helping the small farmer and the organic farmer get as much attention as agribusiness gets." With that, he jumped into his Audi with the sticker on the back, "The Peanut Man Can Do It," and drove off to do battle.
Like Boykin, Jane Kress sacrificed. When it came time to work at transition headquarters here, she left her husband and two children home in Atlanta, came to Washington, lived frugally, got robbed of what money she had by a gunman one noontime in Georgetown. After the Inauguration, she went home and waited to hear what she would be doing in the new administration.
When she heard, she didn't like it, and woldn't say what it was. "I's rather not. I turned it down." Her husband arranged a job transfer to Washington, but she's still waiting. "I wish they'd ask me again," she says. "I definitely want to come to Washington. I'd like to come with a job. That's what I'm really anxious about now."
Lizabeth Lee, last year's University of Georgia senior class president, is back home, too, in Myrtle Beach, S.C. She had sat by the phone in Washington for a week. Noting. Then on what she thought was the last day job calls would be made, she went down to the administration's job-referral office to find out what had happened.
"They didn't have anything on me, all my papers had been lost," she says. "I had to fill out the forms all over. So I decided as long as I had to wait, I'd wait at home. It's warmer here."
She's prepared for a long wait. "I'm at the bottom of the list," she says.