People are calling local bookseller Capitol Hill Books and demanding to speak to Congress members—much to the chagrin of employees, but much to the delight of the internet.
A somewhat viral tweet from the bookstore (which operates a very funny account, by the way), outlines an experience with an angry person calling to speak with Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez:
Me: Capitol Hill Books
Angry guy: Yeah, I don’t like what you’re doing w this stimulus bill.
Me: Sir, you’ve called a bookstore.
AG: This is Capitol Hill, isn’t it!!!
Me: Capitol Hill is a neighborhood.
AG: Well put me through to AOC!
— Capitol Hill Books (@chbooksdc) December 23, 2020
“I tried to explain that Capitol Hill is both [the] Hill and a neighborhood. It’s not just Congress, and that we’re a bookstore in the neighborhood,” says co-owner Aaron Beckwith, who picked up the phone. “They didn’t quite seem to grasp that, and then demanded to be patched through to AOC directly. Which, of course, I cannot do.”
This is the second time this has happened in one or two weeks, says Beckwith. Another person called earlier asking to speak to their representative, and Beckwith had let the caller know that, well, he couldn’t really make that happen.
You can kind of see how an out-of-towner may get confused—it isn’t the most convenient thing to have a neighborhood and a landmark called by the same name. And the internet probably doesn’t help. “They just Google “Capitol Hill,” looking for the first place to vent their rage,” says Beckwith, “and lucky for us, our name somehow pops up.”
Has Beckwith ever thought about, you know, just telling the callers that Mitch McConell is hittin’ the head and can’t come to the phone right now? “I may start keeping a log of what the messages are for the various Congress persons and then just posting them in-store,” he says.
But he wants to be very clear: If you need to get in touch with a member of Congress, for the love of god, do not call the bookstore. “Please do not encourage anyone to call here,” Beckwith told me on the phone before we hung up. “We have very few employees and not a lot of time.”