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Posts in Category: The College Years

Red Light, Green Light

Here’s the thing: I hate driving. I hate it with a fiery, burning passion unlike any fiery, burning passion ever seen before by man. I hate it so much that part of the temptation to not move to the center of the film industry is the fact that their public transportation is so piss-poor, and the layout so spread out, so I’d be driving everywhere. Of course, this was negated by the fact that I lived in the suburbs and had to drive everywhere anyway because of the sprawl and the lack of public transportation…

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Trauma

I couldn’t have been more than seven years old when my father burst into the bedroom that my sister and I shared, waking us both from a sound sleep with the noise and sudden brightness of the kitchen lights. “Come on out here, children,” he said lightly. Though raised for 13 years in the backwoods of eastern Kentucky, my dad had lost most of his accent, but he still has certain bizarre affectations you don’t often hear in suburban Chicago.

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Things I Learn While Shopping at the Grocery Store: An Ongoing Struggle — Self-Checkout

Most grocery stores that have leaped into the 21st century have what’s called self-checkout, a marvelous new technology wherein you check yourself out, scanning the items, weighing the fruits and vegetables, inserting the credit cards, et cetera. Since it’s a new, imperfect technology, most stores also have a human monitor for the self-checkout, sitting in this raised desk that looks over the entire self-checkout area, not unlike a lifeguard station.

I’ve used the self-checkout at grocery stores in Chicago, and it’s very easy-to-use and handy because usually when I go to the grocery store, I buy a pack of gum and some coffee. I’m not buying dinner for ten, and in my experience, Chicagoans are terrified of the self-checkouts and avoid them like the plague. You never have to wait for the self-checkout, which is why I use them.

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Actors

It’s pretty well known that I fucking hate actors. When I was in high school, I used to act a bit. I was on the speech team. Performing was an interesting thing, but I always—for the most part—hated actors. It’s all part of the weird self-hate thing that I have, and I’ll argue that that was when it was at its worst: I enjoyed performing because, even though I wasn’t any good, I felt like it was an opportunity to try to “be” somebody else, which was satisfying since I disliked myself so intensely. But at the same time, I hated everybody around me—sometimes openly, usually secretly—and I’d be one of those “mysterious” actors who sat in a corner, brooding, while the rest of the people were shrieking at each other to demand attention.

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Motherfuckers on the Sidewalk

Today, I was walking along a somewhat narrow sidewalk in Century City. Now, this sidewalk wasn’t as bad as a lot of the ones in Hollywood, where you can barely squeeze two people across. There was easily enough space for four people to walk side-by-side comfortably. But here’s a little thing about sidewalk etiquette: when you’re in a group walking four-wide, and the sidewalk can only fit four people, your entire group consists of big fucking douchebags. This only changes if you, seeing somebody coming from the opposite direction (or being aware enough to know people are approaching you from behind), make room for the other pedestrians.

Having been in LA for several weeks and accustomed myself to the self-absorbed nature of this town, I’ve pretty much gotten used to this kind of thing. It’s not quite as annoying as people who very slowly merge into lefthand turn lanes and make me miss a green light, but it’s pretty irritating. Here’s how I’d handle it back in Chicago: as I approached the person nearest me, I’d slam into them with my shoulder, intentionally whacking them a little harder than necessary. I’m not sure this is a “Chicago thing,” per se. I’m just not a very nice person, and I believe very strongly in certain types of human decency.

But here’s how I’ve handled it here so far: I shy away and walk in the grass, or stand around like an idiot and wait for them to pass me, then resume my walk. This has happened to me almost every time I’ve been out walking (which hasn’t been often, thanks to this sprawling horror of a city), but why do I shy away from being as rude (ruder?) to them as they are to me? Because of the Columbia College mantra: “When you’re in LA, don’t piss anyone off, because they could be your boss someday.”

Back to today: I was walking, fresh cup of coffee in tow, to my car, when in the opposite direction came a four-wide group of yuppies eating ice cream and having an enjoyable conversation about, I assume, money and the virtues of capitalism. As I approached, the person on the end nearest me looked away from the conversation, looked right at me—directly into my eyes, even—then turned back to the conversation. He didn’t move or swerve to avoid me; no, I ended up in the grass, again, in order to avoid him and not spill my coffee.

I stood there for a moment, my “Hulk smash”-style rage boiling. I turned around and looked at their backs as they continued to walk in that “la-de-da, I’m so great” way, and I made a decision: fuck every single one of them. I’m sick of being a less-than-nothing toad. If, someday, I’m a candidate for a job and I happen to run into a guy that I smashed into and spilled both coffee and ice cream on, and he recalls the incident and refuses to hire me—fuck him, because I don’t want to work with people like that anyway.

More importantly, that led me to the decision that I’ll be who I am, because being that person is way better than being the monkey-boy to some fucking tan surfer dude. Will it lose me jobs? I don’t think so. You know why? Three cubicles away from me, the assistant to a lawyer sits there and screams at his boss all day long (his boss screams back). He is who he is, and he’s making a living, and they have a mutual respect for one another because the lawyer wants to be a ball-buster but the assistant will not allow his balls to be so thoroughly decimated.

So there you have it: I’ll bottom out in a year and return to Chicago.

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The Roxy

My friends have varying accounts of my sister’s friendship with Cameron. She always told me and my parents that they were just good friends, which didn’t explain some of his more bizarre behavior, so she elaborated to say they were good friends but Cam was madly in love with her and she didn’t feel the same way. However, in recent years I’ve come to learn from people who actually know my sister better than I do—among them, Lucy—that they actually were dating the entire time they were supposedly “friends.”

It’s not surprising she’d hide this from our parents. My dad has always been overprotective of her, and my mom never believes anybody is good enough for either my sister or me. When I was in high school, I hid a girlfriend from them until one of my sister’s friends called her up and talked about how cute we were together, so my sister called up my mom and ratted me out. I fucking hate her sometimes.

At any rate, Tracey and Cam are still friends, and as a result, he’s been kind of haranguing her for my contact info since I’ve been out here. She gave me his email, and I told him to give me a call, and all of a sudden we were going out to the Sunset Strip for reasons I still don’t fully understand.

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Moment of Clarity

A few weeks ago, on one particularly bad day of work, one of my coworkers approached my cubicle and said, “Hey, you covered Monster Truck Madness, right?”

My traditional dopey grin dissolved into a sneer as I remembered the pain—the sheer torture—of reading Monster Truck Madness. I looked up and growled, “Yeah, I did.”

“How was it?” this coworker asked, taking a bite into a green apple.

“It’s about the worst fucking thing I’ve ever read,” I responded, without hyperbole, even bearing mind that I had on several occasions read material concocted by the great Owen.

“Okay,” my coworker responded, drawing out each syllable to express either confusion or disdain, “but will it make money?”

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The Test

Fuckin’ Columbia. I’ve been trying to get them to send my diploma for months. The advising office called me about three weeks ago, apologizing for sitting on their asses for so long, and then said, “Oh, we have to clear your nonstandard curriculum with the film department.” What this means is, while the film department sets out certain guidelines in order to get a concentration in a certain area (e.g., cinematography, editing, screenwriting), as long as you complete the core and fulfill the number of credit hours needed to graduate, students can take whatever the hell classes they want. So I knew in advance, after this has been drilled into my head for years, that this would be fine.

“Oh,” my adviser—who, in five years, I’ve never met (and this was the first time I’d even spoken to her)—continued, “there’s one other thing: academic computing says you never took the Foundations of Computer Applications test.”

“Uh…” I said. Because here’s the thing: I paid for the test, I signed up for the test, I told everybody on the planet I took the test—but I didn’t. In the words of Marcia Brady, “something suddenly came up.” At this point, I can’t remember what. But I was scheduled to do it in April of 2003, so chances are it had something to do with the huge crush I had on my friend Gina.

I had intended to register to take it again, but really, it was about the lowest thing on my priority list, and it would alternate between slipping my mind completely and entering a mind that quickly dismissed it as something I’d do later.

And then I went off toLos Angeles and the last set of classes I’d take before graduation, and I thought, “So long, suckers!” I sent out my graduation application…and heard nothing until January of this year. They’re on the ball over there at Columbia. By this time, I had come up with a cunning new strategy: lying through my teeth.

“I took the test,” I said. “I remember—I needed to take it to get into Production II for the summer.” That last part was actually true. One method for lying successfully is to drizzle a little bit of truth on top. That way, they have no idea what hit them. But that was the weird thing about it, and one of the reasons I never bothered to take the test—when I registered for Production II, the computer allowed me to do that even though I hadn’t taken the test. The class or test was a prerequisite, so when the computer let me slide, I let myself slide.

“All right,” she said. “I’ll talk to somebody in the department and try to find out what happened.”

That was…so…easy. Too easy, in fact. My adviser called the next day and told me she had spoken with somebody. “You really remember taking the test?”

“Yeah,” I said. “Definitely.”

“But you probably didn’t save anything saying what you got on it, huh?” she said, like this was already a foregone conclusion. So I went with it—lying’s easier when you don’t have to do anything but confirm or deny.

“I figured as much,” she said, “but you definitely remember taking it?”

“Of course,” I said. “I remember it was winter—probably February, right at the beginning of the semester, because they said it took four to six weeks for it to be graded, and I wanted it to be in the system for when I registered for the summer session.” Note to self: when lying, don’t tip your hand by spewing out all sorts of unnecessary information.

“Our records say you were signed up to take it April 14th,” she said.

Oops.

“Oh, right,” I said. “Yeah, I remember it being cold, though. Unusually cold.”

“Okay,” she sighed, “I’ll tell them you took it and hopefully this will all be resolved.”

I thanked her, hung up, and didn’t hear another word for three weeks. Just when I had reached a point where I thought the issue would work itself out and one day I’d arrive home to see a diploma wedged into my mailbox, I got another call.

“Hi, this is your adviser,” her VoiceMail said (I wasn’t home when she called), “I’m calling because our records show you didn’t take the FOCA test. Please give me a call back as soon as you can.”

It seemed like she didn’t remember talking to me at all. Maybe I could try starting the lie over, correcting my previous mistakes, and everything would be fine. I called her back immediately.

“Oh, Stan, thank you for calling,” she said. “Listen, our records say you were registered to take the FOCA test on April 14th, 2003, but you were listed as a no-show. You remember taking the test, though?”

“Absolutely,” I said. “Basic PC stuff, Word, Excel. It was really easy.”

“Uh-huh,” she muttered. “Well, listen, I’m gonna put you in touch with somebody from academic computing, and hopefully we can straighten all this out.”

Academic computing? Oh shit, the jig was up! I could lie to her until the cows came home, but my false testimony wouldn’t stand up under cross-examination by somebody who actually knew what they were talking about. I just knew they were going to ask me all sorts of really complicated questions, such as, “What was the answer to question three of section two?” and “Where was the test held?” Questions I couldn’t answer.

My adviser couldn’t find the number of the person in academic computing, so she said she’d find out and give me a call back. I received a call about ten minutes later, but to my surprise, it was the person from academic computing herself. Crap, I hadn’t properly Zenned myself for the upper-echelon of weaseling my way out of this. My whole balance was being tossed out of whack. She was talking, and I was responding, but I couldn’t concentrate on anything that was going on. My mind was swimming, trying to keep up and fabricate a story that has little detail but still seems plausible; then I had to wait for the right moment to launch into said story.

“Usually what I do in this case is just have you re-take the test,” I heard her say.

“Okay,” I said. “When should I come in?” I admit, I crumbled under the pressure.

“We have a test tonight at five”—this was Tuesday—“or this Saturday at 10AM.”

“Saturday,” I said without hesitation. There’s nothing I enjoy less than going into the city at rush hour.

So she signed me up, and this morning I woke up early to make the trek downtown. It’s hard to believe that I haven’t made this commute in over a year at this point. She told me the test would take about an hour and a half—I estimated it would take a third of that, but just to be safe, I decided to take the el down there, just like the good old days. I didn’t want to get caught in weekend-afternoon tourist traffic on my way out, even though on Saturday mornings it’s ridiculously easy to drive down and find street parking.

On top of all that, I missed the old commute that I did nearly every day for five years—driving 25 long, horrible minutes to the dreaded Rosemont park-‘n’-ride, passing familiar sights such as Adult World on my way; sitting on a cramped el train for 45 minutes, trying to avoid eye contact with all other humans by sticking my nose in a book; and, more often than not, getting off a few stops ahead of schedule for a long, brisk walk downtown. I dislike many aspects of city life, but for the most part I really enjoy walking around the Loop. I guess when you grow up with narrow, suburban sidewalks and a general inability to cross any street easily because suburban traffic never stops for pedestrians, walking along those wide city sidewalks is a little bit freeing. Also, I like the white noise from the traffic and trains, the obnoxious conversations I over hear, and the rampant pigeons getting in my way. It’s a weird experience.

This time around, though, things were a little different. Saturday mornings, the universe is pretty much dead. The drive didn’t take more than 15 minutes because there was no traffic, the train was virtually empty (but two bums sleeping on seats contributed to the delightful train odor I had missed so much), and when I went a-walking—well, let’s just say from the few pedestrians I saw on the street, I can see why we’re the fattest city. I can also see why I consider myself thin despite being 20 pounds overweight; on a relative scale, I’m downright scrawny.

Oh, also, I had my first cup of coffee in over a month. And shit, it wired me good. Remind me not to do that again. But goddamn, with a Dunkin’ Donuts on almost every corner—including a new one right across the street from Columbia—how could I resist? Also, with a Dunkin’ Donuts on every corner, I once again see why we’re the fattest city.

So I went up to take the test, and…I was the only one there. This really nice, just-past-middle-age fellow helped me get started, and I zipped through the entire test in less than 24 minutes (and I passed with hovering colors, too). What did I tell you? An hour and a half, indeed…

I took a walk down Congress toward the LaSalle Street subway station. It was a little trick I learned late in my college career: tons of people get on and off at the nearby Jackson Street station, so you always have to fight to get a seat. If you go one stop further, to LaSalle, very few people are getting on, and even if you don’t get a seat right away, half the train gets off at the next stop.

And as I walked down the steps at the LaSalle station, I saw a middle-aged man just standing on one of the steps. He was holding something that appeared to be drai—

Holy Jesus, that’s a penis he’s holding. Fuckin’ guy’s pissing all over the stairs.

“What the fuck is wrong with you?!” I shouted.

He looked up at me, like a deer in headlights, holding onto his johnson for dear life. He stopped urinating immediately (I need to learn that trick—once I start, I can’t stop) and withdrew his schlong into his pants. He shuffled up the steps as I cautiously descended, hoping I wouldn’t step in anything—or, worse, he’d whip it out and finish off all over me—and it was all good. Although, as soon as I passed the man and his puddle, I heard him stop, whip it out again, and finish (on the stairs, at least—if he had touched me, I would have beaten him to death with my Dickens-filled backpack).

Seriously, though, my God. I’ve had instances where I’ve had to piss like a racehorse, and I know a lot of urban places are cracking down on letting any random schmo use the bathroom, but there are some places (like, for example, the Subway/Taco Bell RIGHT ACROSS THE FUCKING STREET) that have no problem with it. There are some things that just…I mean, on the stairwell?! This city is filled with foul-smelling alleys. What, was he afraid of getting mugged while pissing in non-bathroom environs? Goddammit! Decency, people. Decency. “When you gotta go, you gotta go” doesn’t fly with me if I have to step into or around it.

The trip home was otherwise uneventful.

And with that, I am complete, 100% finished with college.

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Tully’s Closed

During the summer of 2004, I spent the bulk of my days and nights working at a branch of Tully’s Coffee, located at 99 Yesler Way in downtown Seattle, across the street from Pioneer Square. On the exact corner on which I worked, at 1st Avenue and Yesler Way, a huge saw mill owned by Henry Yesler once sat. Yesler Way consisted of skids, going all the way up the steep hill. At the top, loggers would chop the trees and send them down to the mill at the bottom of the hill by way of these skids. The mill-loaded neighborhood in this early version of Seattle was a filthy cesspool, and it was on the corner of 1st Avenue and Yesler Way that a reporter from Chicago stood, surveyed the disgusting sight of this new city, and coined the phrase “skid row.”

In the intervening 120 years, little had changed. It had become a tourist trap (two blocks away is the Kingdome and Seahawks Stadium, and across the square is the hugely successful Underground Tour), which is important because it spurred the profitability of the shop in which I worked for a long while. The original manager was apparently some sort of service-industry genius, because he took a brand new shop in a place where there are at least five others within short walking distance (and a dozen within slightly longer walking distance) and made it one of the most successful in the entire company. Unfortunately, when he left, so went the success. I don’t know for sure, but from the stories I’ve heard about the previous manager running the store into the ground, it seems like he had a “service last” mentality, which drove away both the regulars and the tourists.

I was hired by an interim manager, brought in to try and whip the shop into shape before moving on to run his own branch permanently. There was a lot of office-politics turmoil that led to this, and in a way led to my hiring. The interim manager worked at a store in a nearby mall. They brought him to 1st and Yesler because he had been training to manage a store for awhile, and they wanted to oust the actual manager, so they said, “Give us a month to pink-slip him, and in the meantime you can get your feet wet and 1st and Yesler, then take over Westlake.” In that month, they also gave the manager who would take over a crash-course in managerial skills. In that month, they also hired me.

I got along pretty well with the interim manager. He was also a writer, also a huge Woody Allen fan, also couldn’t decide if Manhattan or Hannah and Her Sisters was his best film—we were two peas in a pod, and I’m certain if he hadn’t noticed I was a film student and started talking movies with me, I never would have gotten the job. At the same time, if the previous manager or new manager had been there when I applied, I don’t think I would have been hired. It’s all about timing.

The problem, when the interim manager took over, is that he was both too nice and too gullible. I don’t really know what went on after I left, but while I was there, he managed to find himself under the tenuous claws of two different, subordinate employees, and as a result he largely ignored the rest of us. One of them was a guy I worked with a lot, and he ended up getting fired because he made a long series of stupid mistakes. I think the biggest was closing up the store one time without setting the alarm. Nothing happened, but that’s still frowned on by the company. The other was a fairly attractive girl who made an inordinate amount in tips by flirting with the customers (like hardcore; I wouldn’t be surprised if some guys got phone numbers), and she managed to get a stranglehold over the new manager in much the same way. She was angling for his job, and he knew it, but he didn’t seem to be able to resist the powers of her charm.

Then there was the turnover problem. When the one guy got fired, that started a disappointing revolving door. I was the next to give my notice, and I knew the timing was terrible but I had to get back to school (I was willing to delay going back a semester, but nobody on the planet but me and my coworkers seemed to think that was a good idea). I found out through the grapevine (a.k.a., the flagship store, where I had befriended far too many employees) that the shuffling they were doing in order to accommodate my quitting was ridiculous. And the fact was, they just didn’t have enough people. With me and the other guy gone, they had a total of three employees. They hired a fourth just before I left, and transferred somebody else, but neither of them were permanent. I could see in the new girl’s eyes that she was a short-timer (and I was right, I found out), and the girl who had transferred knew it would only be until they hired more people.

I kind of lost track of my Tully’s friends after that, but I’m guessing the downward spiral continued. Maybe somebody made a power play that got out of hand, but here’s the fact: my sister just called me up and said she was driving by Pioneer Square, and my store was papered up, and its sign had been removed. I checked the website, and she’s right: my store is gone. I love Tully’s as a whole, but I grew attached to my branch. I really hate saying this, but working at Tully’s was the most fun, most difficult, most rewarding, outright best job I’ve ever had. If it paid enough for me to actually support myself, I’d probably never have left. But it doesn’t, and I did, so now what?

Well, the store’s closed, is what. And I can’t help feeling a little depressed about that. I used to have a dream about one day going back to Seattle and seeing all those old faces again. I knew they’d never last—not the employees, probably not even the regulars—but I have memories of them, and those memories translated into one day going back. It’s like the really shitty, retarded ending of Titanic. She’s 279 years old, but she jumps off that fucking boat and dies and goes to Titanic heaven. It’s not populated with all these hundreds of thousands of people she probably knew over the course of her life; heaven, to her, is just that one moment in time. I wouldn’t necessarily call my time at Tully’s heaven, but I do have that same type of feeling, where everything’s frozen and someday I can just go back and pick it up like I never left.

Now that the store’s closed, that dream is gone. So in honor of my coworkers (especially Sandy), the regulars (especially Drunk Dennis, whose bizarre life and hilarious code of ethics will someday form the basis for my greatest written work), and the crazies (I’m looking at you, Krazy Kelly and Crazy Crackhead), I’m filling up my Tully’s Statesmen with 16 ounces of fresh-brewed French Roast and having one more cup for you all, and for the memories.

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The Load of Shit

Over Memorial Day weekend, my sister called. We had to set up file-sharing so she could download some pictures of her house that she thought she had lost. This led, not surprisingly, to an hour-long conversation about my hilarious efforts to find a decent job (or any job, at this point) in an art-related field in which I’m competent. Since she also failed to find employment doing anything resembling what she wanted to do, it’s one of the few areas where she commiserates with me instead of condescending to me.

She gave me all these pointers about her perceived problems with my cover letter and resume (which she hasn’t even looked at—she just happened to take a class in how to make a “bitchin'” resume) and then the conversation gradually turned toward a bombshell she had never before revealed:

“So yeah, a few weeks after you left L.A., I got an e-mail from Cam asking what happened to you because you kind of fell off the face of the planet,” she said. “He said he’d e-mailed you a couple of times but didn’t hear back, so he was wondering what happened. I told him that you ran out of money and had to go back to Chicago, and he said, ‘Oh, that’s a shame, because he said if you’d stayed another week, they’d have hired you on full-time.'”

At first I was livid. Cam happens to be engaged to my school’s L.A. internship coordinator, arguably the least helpful person on the planet. I was angry first at her for again proving her uselessness by not telling me something like that, then at myself because I kinda blew her off when I got back to Chicago. I was jaded and bitter, but she did call me once; I picked up, thinking it was someone else, but got her off the phone really fast. The last thing she said to me was, “Don’t blow this off.”

In that instant of lividity, I was thinking, did she tell me not to blow this off because when I had called back, she was going to tell me an employment offer had been extended? But as the shock and anger wore off, I gradually began to realize that what my sister had told me made no sense whatsoever, and I explained to her why:

  1. As an initial side-note, I pointed out that Cam hadn’t e-mailed me at all after I had left. Not once. And, even after getting ahold of my sister and hearing back from her, I still didn’t hear from him myself.
  2. I had given notice at both of my internships. Not a whole lot, and I ended up skipping out earlier than I had told them, which probably didn’t go over well, but they were aware that I was leaving, and they were aware of one reason why. If either of them had intended to put me on full-time, they had ample time to speak up. They didn’t.
  3. Of the two internships, Cam’s fiancée only knew of one. Ironically, at the one she didn’t know about I was treated with respect, felt somewhat like I fit in, and was made to feel like I was competent in what I was doing. At the one she was aware of, I didn’t fit in at all. The people there would ignore me if they could, they gave me worse than menial tasks (I know, I know—that’s part of being a lowly intern, but at least at the other internship they didn’t make me feel like I was doing all the piddly crap they wouldn’t touch with a 10-foot pole), and just generally treated me like an outsider. Since this was the only one the internship coordinator knew about, I find it really surprising that of the two, this was the one that intended to offer me a paid position.
  4. Before I even gave notice, I took a half-day off from the internship where I didn’t belong so I could go to Santa Monica for an open interview at a café. When I came back thinking the interview went well, the women at the production company were excited that I’d be getting a paying job somewhere and also recommended various other places where I might be able to make more money (none of which were hiring). Doesn’t really sound like the kind of place that planned to hire me…
  5. One of my friends worked the exact same internship at the exact same place—she was Monday-Wednesday-Friday; I was Tuesday-Thursday—and she actually got along well with the people there. Yet, she interned there for a whole summer and then, in the end, was cut loose, with the typical promises about how they would have loved to hire her but just couldn’t afford it. I suspected that was how things would end from the moment I interviewed, when the women who interviewed me kept talking about how great the previous interns were, and I was just thinking, “So why did you let them go?” Answer: they didn’t plan to hire anybody; like most places, they just wanted the free labor.

I had always had the feeling that Cam’s fiancée would say or do anything to keep her job or make herself look good, so long as it didn’t involve actually doing her job well. This just seemed to me like proof of that, with the truth hidden even from even her fiancé. It’s not the most unreasonable thing in the world. If I had people breathing down my neck from all sides, saying, “What’s up with this kid who just bailed?” I’d probably make up a similar lie. But I also wouldn’t dangle the lie in front of the other person (or his sister). It’s just more of the school’s empty promises, which had stranded me out there in the first place.

Why wouldn’t I dangle it? Because here’s how I reacted: I said, “It’s a bunch of bullshit and here’s why,” but…it nagged at me. I was in a foul mood for the rest of the weekend, and I let it kind of gnaw at me all week, going back in forth in my head, with a 99.9% certainty that everything Tracey had heard from Cam was a total load of bullshit, but I just couldn’t let that 0.1% go. What if they had wanted to hire me? What if they had intended to offer me a job on the very day I stopped showing up, after giving my two weeks’ notice one week before? Maybe I was just that much better than my friend who never got hired at all. They had just hired a director of development, whom I actually clicked with, who liked my coverage—maybe she would have needed an assistant. Maybe I had fucked myself out of a nice (to start with) career opportunity for some really, really stupid reasons.

When Friday rolled around, I could no longer tolerate all this horrible, horrible thinking I had been doing. I had to take some kind of action. Should I call up the production company and ask about it? No, no, that’d never work. Maybe I should just call and try to make amends, apologize for walking out on them so abruptly. Not trying to pry any information out of them, but perhaps the information be divulged. “Sorry I ditched you.” “Oh, the only person you fucked was yourself—I was just about to offer you a job.” “Oh, how silly of me. Let us now laugh.”

I stared at their business card, which I had discovered while cleaning out a bunch of old shit, contemplating whether or not I had the guts to actually call them and—gasp!—apologize.

Not today, I thought, and instead sent an e-mail to my friend, the other half of what we jokingly called “Team Intern,” the tactic we had used to get hired together—we knew each other in advance, so we could talk to each other and coordinate the way we ran the office, to make sure everything ran smoothly. If there was something she found out on Friday would happen on Tuesday, she could call me up and let me know. Team Intern, yes, that’s the ticket.

She responded to me a few hours later, quelling my fears and neuroses by reminding me of various other factors that would have prevented us both from being hired full-time. This just wasn’t the place for that. They were a relatively small operation, they obviously wanted to keep the overhead low, so by having two interns in rotation working for three months and then replaced, they had all the additional help they really needed, and for free! In exchange, the very purpose of an internship: payment in experience and maybe—just maybe!—a shiny new reference.

My irritating conscious mind allayed, I was able to continue sending out a resume that, I assume, human resources people print out and hang up on the bulletin board in the break room for everyone to first laugh at, then sigh with the relief one gets in knowing they don’t have somebody like me working for or with them.

Let the good times roll.

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