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Oh man, you kids. You know, I wasn’t always riding the rails like this. I too once had a bright future ahead of me. One that didn’t include writing about boners for a website that cares a lot about the length of a man’s shorts. I wasn’t always cooking up leather-shoe-stew and warming myself around a trashcan fire. My pillow wasn’t always damp hay, and my lovemaking wasn’t always with a stray dog I’ve named “Patricia.” I once carried a briefcase, not a bindle-stick, and I once wore a tie, not an old wooden barrel with shoulder-straps. I had an internship once.
That was before.
Oh, you’ll get your own internship. You’ll go on and on about “debits” and “401Ks” and occasionally yell “SELL SELL SELL” and a whole gaggle of buzzwords to prove you’re on the right track to success. But really, you’re bullshitting everyone. You’re a child playing house, pouring imaginary martinis and never getting to fuck. Being past that time in my life, I can tell you what it all looks like from afar. As I sip my brown-bagged forty and think about selling my jizz, I can remember everyone showing off the internships they landed like they were trading cards, dreaming about lifelong careers of golfing after a cocktail lunch. Oh yes, I’ve been there. We all act in denial, as if working for a full eight hours beats waking up at noon to sit through an hour class. Then, as the days wear on, the reality of our position sinks in, and we realize our internship doesn’t matter, our friend’s internship doesn’t matter, and our life is a lie spit from our mother’s uterus, like spoiled milk too disgusting to taste. Just kidding about that last one, guys, but seriously internships are terrible. Here’s why:
You Don’t Have A Desk
Let me repeat this, you don’t have a place to sit. Even a prisoner gets a toilet. Even I get a part of this railcar not yet covered in human shit. You walked in on day one and an assistant looked you in the eye like you were a bear that was about to attack. She had no idea what to do or who to call. So she pointed at the chair next to her in front of a file cabinet. So now it’s you and the assistant sitting behind the same desk, and the only work you’re doing is moving out of the way every time she needs a file. Eventually someone walks by and asks how everything is going. You say, “Fine,” like a battered wife, and she minimizes her food blog and smiles. “Keeping him busy!” she chirps as behind her back she shows you the razorblade she keeps concealed in her palm.
You Just Took The Numbers From A Receipt And Entered Them Into An Expense Report
You’re literally taking numbers and moving them from one place to another. The Mexican bar back from happy hour could do this, and faster. He’s a hard worker. You start to wonder when your college education is going to come in handy. You’re waiting for someone to do some calculous or ask you about your region’s beer pong rules. That never happens, and all anyone keeps talking about is the new Health Savings Account which makes you as confused as a Mexican bar back who was just asked for a vodka soda. You’re 12 credits short of a degree, yet transferring calls without accidentally hanging up is impossible. You remind yourself that things could be worse. You could be twenty-four, which is gross.
You Lie About It
You’ve been telling people you’re working “at a trading desk,” but you don’t have a desk, and the only “trading” you did was an apple for a jello pudding cup at lunch (admittedly a great trade). You go to bars, you’re asked about your summer internship, and you say, “I deal with the importing of debiting exports on the buy side,” but you have no idea what that means. And thankfully, they don’t either. They shake their heads and explain their internship with the same enthusiasm. Then you say, “Shots?” and everyone moves on because no one can really deal with the reality that just a few short weeks ago they were drinking on a lawn at 11am. If every tough explanation was handled like this then life would be easier. “I know we’re not married but she wants to have the baby. Shots?” “Herpes isn’t that bad. Shots?” “So what I’m saying is, Mohammed Atta had some good ideas. Shots?”
They Won’t Let You Have Your Own Computer
You’re a theft risk. Or at least a porn risk. A significant one.
When You Do Have Access To A Computer, You Take Forever
That 15 minute expense report took you an hour, and now everyone in the office speaks to you really slowly and offers you hot chocolate instead of coffee. When you get a computer, you nuzzle up to it like it’s your big, floppy-boobed Jamaican housekeeper looking “for some love” when you’re home for Thanksgiving break. Each time you get a computer, you know it might be the only time all day that you can get access to basic human needs like Gchat, Facebook, and Twitter. You breathe in the necessities of life as long as you can. You clutch to this computer time because in fifteen minutes you go back to your iPhone that goes in and out of 3G, a life that even an orphaned North Korean kid with no fingers would spit at.
You Feel Terrible
You just spent a semester staying up late, waking up late, and being intoxicated nearly as much as you were sober. In fact, almost the entire last week of school was spent drunk. Now you have to be at work at 8 o’clock in the morning. You feel ill, you’re sweating, and you’re probably begging for sleep. You ironically hit your stride when the workday is ending, finally feeling like you can conquer the world. So you celebrate this new joie de vivre with a few cocktails. You think, “Tomorrow won’t be so bad!” as the fifth shot slides down your throat and warms your chest, only to perpetuate the cycle. Your sickly demeanor has your boss wondering if you have AIDS, and then if people with AIDS smell like tequila all the time.
You’re Here Because “Everyone Gets An Internship”
You’re not at this internship because you enjoy accounting, or because when you were eight you used to dress in a double breasted suit, yelling at your imaginary assistant Marilyn about the “reports on the yen” as you sipped from an espresso cup full of Pedialyte. You’re at this internship because your Mom’s friend asked what your plans were this summer during Thanksgiving break. When you got confused and scared and joked, “Introducing your son to his new boyfriend,” nobody got it. Your Mom’s friend soldiered on about her gay son, explaining that he was in a pre-pre-doctorate program in Zimbabwe giving kids with cleft palates a new life. You felt yourself falling behind as you finger-stirred your fifth Manhattan. Your Mom’s friend’s son was always a loner, he went to a liberal arts college, worried about pointless things like grades, and now HE is getting ahead?
That’s right, he is. But you’re under twenty-three, and you’ll get your moment. For now, though, nobody owes you shit. Do your internship, and understand the people around you in this job have families, hobbies, bills, The Big Bang Theory, dinners to cook, and the need to masturbate on the toilet while their wife knocks on the door looking for her hair iron. They don’t want to be bothered about reassuring someone who won’t be around in three months. So smile, do your time, and shut up about it. This isn’t about a career, or experience, any more than college is about mastering economics. It’s about getting a piece of paper that says, “I endured,” so that when it comes down to it in a year, your future boss will have a valid excuse for hiring YOU over that effeminate, bleeding-heart when he gets back from Zimbabwe. After all, who would he rather hang out with?