Sunday, 14 June 2015

Fucking Interns: A Good Day To Learn Hard (Pilot, blogisode #1)


DAY 1
7.30 hours

Square thingy! Red alert clanging bells! “What a chicken!”

I shot up from my bed panting like I’d been chased by a zombie. A faster one, albeit. One who could beat a snail hands down in a race. Like the ones you saw in Walking Dead.

A chill run down my spine that instant. Oh my God. This was no time to think about the zombies from Walking Dead. Or my stereotypical bad dream that had been haunting me for two years. Today was my first day interning at Glitz Magazine and I didn’t need this shit. Things would go right; it didn’t matter if this dream had somehow slipped into my subconscious through the night. They just had to.

My alarm rang and I jolted from my bed in fright. I needed to stop thinking about Walking Dead zombies because I was alive and I needed to do some walking myself if I didn’t want to show up late. On. My. First. Day. Another shiver ran through me at the idea.

I passed my eighty year-old Grannie-Grandma who’d collapsed onto the living room’s carpet after failing another attempt to do one push-up——her daily exercise routine to fight her high blood pressure levels.

“Hi Gran.”  I called as I entered the bathroom. “How is the exercise going?”

“It all starts with a little rest, son. Then I’d begin. All great trainers advice to get some rest before you exercise.” She said very seriously as though I was joining her anytime soon to work on my blood pressure levels.

I didn’t point out that she’d had eight hours of rest. Seven hours if you counted the late-night bingeing when everyone was in bed.

I stood by the mirror brushing my teeth and willing myself to think this day would go right despite my dream. All I had to do was follow the rules and I’d be fine. It didn’t matter if this day was all a mistake. I was going to do great on my first day—

Clank.

I stared at my brush that had just broken mid-cleaning my teeth. I resisted the urge to scream. This couldn’t be another bad omen for the day ahead, could it? In fact, every Ghanaian knew VIP brushes weren’t durable. You could go through the whole pack of seventeen and still be rushing out to the stores to get another because you weren’t anywhere near cleaning your teeth. Intense.

I reached into the brush ‘bucket’, wondering whose brush I should choose from. Last night mum and dad had whipped cream sex before brushing to sleep so that ruled out theirs. I was left with Isaac, my very obedient brother who did as he was told—no sex, no drugs, but you must kiss until you are thirty and married.

Ow!” I yelped when a hand thwacked my fingers as I reached for the brush.

“Seems someone’s already having a bad day.” My older competitive brother, who always knew when to sneak up on me when I was having a crappy start to my day, teased. “Oh, and let’s see, it’s your first day at Glitz?”

“Isaac, it’s going to be perfect, trust me.” I challenged looking at him through the mirror. “And besides everyone knows VIP brushes are as week as eighty-year olds.” I rinsed my mouth and spat out.

He snickered as though he knew something I didn’t. “You are going to have the worst of days, Kobby. Grannie would prove so.”

I stepped out of the bathroom to my Grannie actually doing push-ups. OMG! What did this mean to my day? I immediately realigned my brain cells to think more positively. If I closed my eyes I wouldn’t see my Gran already through eight push-ups with one hand(!) “Eighty year-olds were weak. Eighty year-olds were weak. Eighty year-olds were weak.” I chanted silently as I walked to my room.

“Your first day at Glitz!” My dad shrieked as I joined everyone else on the dining table except my Gran who was unusually present. My mum had prevented her mother from coming anywhere near the breakfast table stuffed with meals that could send her blood pressure rocketing and squeeing high into the skies (—“I have a will, you know? If I die it’s best for everyone.”—) despite her protests.

“Yes, dad.” I smiled at him. “It’s going to be great.”

“It’s going to suck.”

My mother aimed her fork at Isaac to shut him up. He had every right to be afraid. We were a family of six (including Gran) until she stabbed our dog to death. It had been howling all through the night. “It’s really not going to suck.”

“Thanks mum.” I smiled at her unusual dose of encouragement. The whipped cream sex, I guessed, had worked its magic. She seemed chirpier today.

“Not as much as Isaac thinks, no.” She looked away as though she hadn’t dropped a bomb, pouring my dad a mug of Earl Grey. “It’s going to suck, but not as much.”

“Thanks mum, your lack of faith in me is reassuring.” I said sarcastically digging into my breakfast of creamed tea and toasted bread stuffed with omelettes.

“Don’t mind your mum.” My dad always jumped in to do damage control. “She didn’t have as many opportunities as you guys growing up.”

“I did have many opportunities. Until we decided to veer off the norm and have some unprotected sex.” My mum supplied sternly, glaring at him into silence.

“Until I knocked her up, yes.” My dad grinned. He was clearly impressed about his potency back in the days. These times he wielded a thermostat in his jeans.

8.30 hours.
Honk!

I jumped out of the way of a truck before it run me over.

Oh, what is this universe telling me? I thought crossly as I hurried over to the Glitz building at the other end of the street. I took out my Little Big Black Book and held it tightly to my chest, looking up to the heavens.

“Only Jesus can save you.” A bum with an empty coin box approached me on the sidewalk, saying, “I know that isn’t a bible.”

“It’s not.” I said to her with a smile. “It’s my Little Big Black book.” I explained to her. “I jot down things of importance in it and take it everywhere—“

“If you want company, you pay for it.” The rude scraggly fifty-something woman shoved her empty box in my direction.

“Sorry.” I apologized, stuffing my Little Big Black Book back in my briefcase. I couldn’t believe I was being chatty with a bum. There were friends for that. But I didn’t want to bother any of them though. As if they would even get the reason for my manic act. As if they’d understand the square thingy and red clanging bells dream. As if they’d understand I followed every little rule in my Little Big Black Book not to make a mistake that would make things end up like they did in my horrible dream. More importantly, as if they’d understand someone interning at Glitz—Africa’s best fashion magazine. They’d all been green-eyed jealous when I broke the news to them. And all of a sudden they’d cut me out with the silliest reasons (—“You can’t work be this superficial and still be our friend, goodbye very much!”). So really it wasn’t because they’d understand—I didn’t give a crap if they didn’t. It was because they wouldn’t be listening anyway.

I walked into the posh working area of Glitz with my shoulders held high just like everyone who’d walked out of the elevator I had come out from. If I followed the norm, things were going to turn out just great and I wouldn’t have to make a mistake. I hated my shoulders, why did they have to hurt just a little over a feet into the big plush hall? The Intern Hall, the mezzanine-floor donated to all the interns of the various departments numbering a bit over fifty. The walls were splashed with bright hues of green, gold and red—the magazine’s colours and fluorescent tubes were lined up in endless array up the ceilings.

“It is an absolute privilege to find yourself interning in Glitz.” A tall, regal, lean man in tailored pants and a sleeveless jacket worn over a tightly-fitted white linen shirt spoke as he took us, his interns, for a tour around the state-of-the art working area.

Being in front of the pack of four, I was bobbing my head as though I really did agree with all he was saying. I was with my Little Big Black Book noting down everything he said as though they were even noteworthy. I could have pretended I was jotting anything down—making air-writing marks, but for my colleagues behind me, I couldn’t. So I wrote:

It’s an amazing thing to work in ‘Glitz’. It’s an opportunity a million undergrads would die for. If you get such an opportunity chances are you might even end up manning the photocopier when you are out of school.

Wait, I lifted my biro, wondering where the privilege was in his last remark. But our warden ignored me and walked away from the stall of elegant girls standing by the printers and the photocopying machines with rehearsed artificial smiles.

The group brushed past me following the guy walking shoulders high and taut in the air. I figured, to them all, I was the little nuisance in front of the class who made notes of everything, answered questions and drew the teacher’s attention making contributions that were not all too beneficial. I was the Eager Bunny.

“He means you could spend all your summers interning for Glitz and still end up below the pecking order.” One of the interns I hadn’t realized hadn’t stomped off with the others stood by me. She stretched her hand out to me wearing what I found was knitted gloves. How anyone could be wearing black gloves, black tailored suit with matching skirt, opaque black stockings and black heels in our very humid climate was a wonder to me. Something of the kind museums rushed in to procure (—“A lady in black who is unfazed by the high levels of sunlight in the country? Priceless! Hold the legs, take the arms, this belongs to the Museum of Freaks of Nature.”). She looked more like a reckless entrepreneur than a mere intern.

“I know.” She said realizing I was stunned by her attire. “If you are the Overeager one, then I guess I am the who got the dress code all wrong on her first day. I am Maggie.”

“Kobby.” I took her hands.                                     

The other two interns, a guy as lean and almost tall as our warden and a girl shorter than us all who stuck out her bust and stood self-importantly, were every bit perfect. They didn’t bob their heads as I did when our warden looked in my direction. Or make snide comments throughout the whole tour.

“A stick up his arse and an iron rod for a shoulder.” Maggie remarked. “You’d think we were enlisting as mannequins in a shop that specialized in capes and shoulder pads! Eeks!

“You have any idea who he is?” I whisper-spoke as our warden showed us the section of cubicles that marked the magazine’s Interning Beauty team’s territory.

“You don’t?” I could have asked if she wore no panties and she wouldn’t have looked any different than did she now. “He’s Winfred. Copy Editor. One of the finest. They say he spots errors in articles way before they land on his desk. He edits with a scalpel—no jokes, he does.”

This titbit of information thrilled me. Of course, if I was working under the best there was no way I was going to make a colossal mistake? I should text Isaac an emoji that could really represent the ‘Ha!’ face I had on:

Fuck you, bro. I would be having a day more lovely than you would ever be, thank you very much!

I almost hit send but I glanced at the group far ahead and hurried.

I halted over at the new stall Winfred had ushered the other interns to. Suddenly, my breath caught, my heart began hammering fast against my chest, my knees buckled as I stared at the plaques that sat on cubicles of this section. The world seemed to blur into inexistence, seconds turned into minutes, and all I could see was:

The Advertising and Marketing Wing (Interns).

The interns looked overeager as they pitched ideas, developed campaigns, debated hook-lines, and wrote copies for print ads all to the leader of the herd who was awarding them with fist-bumps and back-slaps. I felt a pang of envy slice through me. Nevertheless, I was still awestruck and rooted to my position.

This was the reason today could be a colossal mistake. This was what I had applied for: writing copies, not editing them. It was a mistake I had been accepted into Glitz to intern for a job I had no interest in—or was no good at, I should add for the sake of sounding all-knowing.

Editing at home always gave me headaches and I found my family tiptoeing around me for fear that I might combust if they did so little as sneeze to distract me. But writing just brought this surge of energy and gave me this whole thrilling outlook of the world. People were dying, politicians were lying, everyone’s interest in Facebook was waning. But I had my writing and suddenly the world seemed like a better place.—

“Kobby!” I broke from my reverie to a call from Winfred who’d walked the group elsewhere.

“Sorry.” I quickly apologized as I reached the others.

“Ex, ex, ex,” Winfred rolled his eyes dramatically. “Excuses. They make me sick.” He said this looking at everyone. “I do not take sorries. You do your job well or you are out. No one gets to be sorry under my watch.” He finished with a dark stare aimed at me.

“Sorry.” I said before I could stop myself.      

The other two perfect interns glared at me before following Winfred who was theatrically muttering in the air with a hand clasped to his forehead

Ow! Maggie stamped hard at my foot. “What was that for?”

“Sorry.” She said.

Suddenly my feet didn’t throb anymore as I smiled warmly at her. Maggie and I would be great friends, I thought watching her scuttle for the others.

I took one last glance at the Advertising wing and smiled. I wasn’t part of their team. But for now I was very much privileged to be staring at this bunch of creatives. Their faces lighting up when an idea sprang to their heads, their hands shooting up to offer contributions, the air-punches they threw when their ideas were approved. I felt a sense of belonging. I could very much relate to these people. And watch them all day.

“Kobby!”

Oh, hi there Reality.

Winfred bundled us towards an empty set of cubicles at a corner with cute notebooks—the digital kind—on each. Every cubicle held ‘Copy-editor’ tags.

“So this is where you guys would be occupying for the three-month stay.” Winfred announced as we all happily picked a cubicle. “But of course, I’d have to test you to make sure you all are copy-editing material.” This guy was definitely a killjoy.

“Wait.” Maggie interrupted his stride. “I thought we were shortlisted among thousands of candidates.”

Wait, I hadn’t known that. I squared my shoulders proudly and sat upright.

“Yeah, yeah,” He waved his hands in a brush-off manner. “Human resource, not me.” He fixed Maggie a pointed stare. I hadn’t realized my shoulders instantly sunk. “Of course, anyone of you who doesn’t meet my very low standards for novice copy-editors would have to go.”

Sweat suddenly began piling on my upper lip. I hadn’t wanted to get into copy-editing but certainly no employer would find ‘thrown out of Glitz in less that twenty-four hours’ a remarkable achievement. I imagined my future employer to be a cement-block manufacture or any other job with less security (—“Yee-ha! You’d be right for this job! Just take off your shirt and grab a shovel, would you?”).

“So,” Winfred threw a fake smile in our direction. “Look out for emails of your assignments. I’m very much looking forward to judging your work.”

I was suddenly worried what this assignment would entail. “Winfred,” I lifted up my hands before he could make a turnaround and leave. “I have a question—could I call you Win?—“

“No, you can’t.”

“Wait,” I called, but he was already moving away. “That hadn’t been my question!”         

“Shut up.” The dark guy as tall as Winfred I had categorized as Perfect Intern cut me off snidely and looked away to mutter something to Perfect Intern Girl.

Wow, it was already clear I really wasn’t going to fit in with this bunch. I cast one look over at the advertising section. Could I apply to their team after being rejected by Win? I hoped so, really. But for the meantime if I wanted to remain anywhere around these inspiring people, I should make it a point to remember it was always Winfred and never Win.
11.30 hours

Fuck. It didn’t matter I’d typed back, “Hey, Winfred, thanks for sending in the assignment.” There was high evidence I’d be packing from this place sooner than I’d expected. An image of Isaac in the doorway, spreading out his arms with the widest smile, saying, “Welcome home.” suddenly made my head throb. I really couldn’t flunk this (—if I could help it).

The others looked like they were excelling at their assignments and here I was all serious pretending I was kicking arse. Only I was hunched over solitaire praying if I did get back to the assignment I’d have a fresher mind.

I got back to the assignment. I didn’t have a fresher mind. All I had was an email pop-up from Isaac with a video of my Gran through twenty chin-ups with Black Eyed Peas’ Pump It in the background. ‘VIP brushes are like Eighty-year old grans.” The email said, “They never break.”

Square thingy! Red alert clanging bells! “What a chicken!”— I shook my head to chase the images away.

In copy-editing they say you were supposed to find the errors in passages and repair them. I could not find any errors! The passage was as clean as… probably cleaner than my teeth! There were no errors to be spotted and briefly I had wondered if I should send the email back to Win—I mean, Winfred—informing him there was no error. (But really, could anyone find any errors in a Doctor’s Health Report?) Perhaps that was the whole trick to this assignment. You could never find errors where there were no errors.

My (fucking) Little Big Black Book said otherwise. I had searched the Internet about the rules of copy-editing. My little big black book came up with:

1. There’s always an error.

I quickly jotted down by the point: perhaps there is an exception to this rule? I made a mental note to go write that down in the online forum I’d stumbled upon headed by one contributor who had best copy-editing credentials. I immediately aborted this idea when… Square thingy! Red alert clanging bells! “What a chicken!”

2. Page One of Microsoft Word and never Two.

3. Page Two of Microsoft Word and never Three.

4. The constant use of the backspace and delete button.

5. A constant supply of coffee—you would need this for the headaches.

So far the only rule I agreed with was four as I kept backspacing all the changes I’d done to this assignment. I glanced over at the other interns again. Perfect Intern Girl was sitting by me typing furiously. I lengthened my neck.

(Rule 6: When the going gets tough, the tough gets copy-editing)

“Copy Kobby.” She muttered with eyes fixed onto her work.

What was this? Junior High? I glared at her. Seriously the world would be a better place if people just shut up and allowed more teamwork.

12.00

It was lunch break and I decided to get that coffee my notebook had suggested after all. I would get back refreshed and would attack this assignment with much rigour. I’m a kick-arse copy intern!

I raced down to the ground floor ignoring Maggie asking to go scoop lunch together as Perfect Interns had already huddled up in an exclusive clique excluding us anywhere near their perfection. Mean.

I pushed through the French spinning doors and found myself back on the sidewalk. I pushed the empty coin box the bum shoved at me and walked away. I was going to look for coffee.

Minutes later, I was walking back towards the office with grim determination… empty handed. I did find the coffee alright but one whiff of the caffeine and—bleurgh!—I remembered how much I hated “The Common Cure for a Copy-Editor’s Headaches”. I would ignore that rule.

Suddenly, images of the square thingy, red clanging bells and the jeer of the teenage couple, “What a chicken!” infiltrated my consciousness. I halted. I was immediately horrified for forgoing the coffee. I needed the coffee, didn’t I? I must follow the rules to avoid making a mis— Square thingy! Red alert clanging bells! “What a chicken!” I must follow the rules.

“You know what?” The bum sidled up to me during my moment of dilemma. “I trust my guts. And this minute my guts are telling me to eat something else they’d give up on me.”

I stared at her as though she was a bright light shooting through the sky, divine manifestation to all my problems. She looked over her shoulder in self-doubt to be sure I wasn’t checking another bum out. (How she instantly began flicking her dirty kinky hair, giggling nervously and hitting my shoulder playfully—“Oh, you!”—could have made me dry-retch onto her caked skin if I had a minuscule hold of my consciousness. To think I’d ever fancy the likes of her! But, hmm, I’ve had a man-crush on Zach Galifianakis for years! So you really couldn’t tell how these things worked).

I should trust my guts. And at this moment this bum needed food (as well as a makeover), so I might as well say a ‘sod it’ to coffee and handover my lunch money. I dropped my money into her box and rushed into the building.

In my seat, I found out it really hadn’t been wise listening to someone who’d flunked all life’s challenges. Because I was doing my own thing at the expense of all these rules. These rules created to prevent me from going off course. Square thingy! Red alert clanging bells! “What a chicken!”

Like take rule two or three for example: I was already on my third page of Word. I should be editing not adding more stuff, I berated myself horrifyingly. What kind of crappy editor was I anyway? People would run the other direction with their manuscripts when they heard me approach. (BEWARE! The editor who never edited anyway. Spooky.)

Square thingy! Red alert clanging bells! “What a chicken!”

I collapsed frustratingly onto my keyboard.

13 hours 12 mins.

Perfect Intern Boy was up. So was Perfect Intern Girl. They were done. They probably had looked over the work and sorted out all the errors I couldn’t locate. They had trashed the assignment so much Winfred would wonder if what he’d given out was child’s play. These guys were my heroes! I would never be awe-stricken looking at returning soldiers walk off their battle jets. I almost stood up to applaud them until—

“Kobby.” Maggie called as I cast my gaze at the disappearing couple. “I am done. Are you?”

I was so engrossed in the Perfect Interns I hadn’t realized Simple Overdressed Maggie was by me. “Oh, you are?”

She stood up with a smile, heading to the printers with her supplied Glitz drive. “Finish up. Work closes at two.”

“Really?” My shock bounced off the walls of the hall and a couple of interns from the other wings wrinkled their noses at me in displeasure.

“Yes.” Maggie stated pointedly. “You know this right? Nine to two? The modern Ghanaian working hours. Nine a.m to two p.m.” She walked away.

I chewed my lips over my assignment which was so much more than the original ten lines. Even though I had edited all my crap down to a page. Square thingy! Red alert clanging bells! “What a chicken!”, I sighed exasperatingly.

On an impulse, I copied the work onto the supplied Glitz drive and walked over to the printers. The square thingy and red clanging bells were ignored. I wasn’t going to let my demons convince me I was going to make a mistake if I didn’t follow some sodding rules. The choir to my eponymous movie began doing their rendition of KTunstall’s Suddenly I See as I swaggered towards the direction of the editors’ offices. Hmm… I could be in a movie all day—

Square thingy! Red alert clanging bells! “What a chicken!”—Aargh! I needed to run before I had a change of mind.

As Winfred was not present in his office, I placed my work as the last of assignments neatly piled on his glass desk.

My head was with the clouds I spotted through the glass windows of the Hall as I walked back to my cubicle. I was insanely pleased at my little achievement. It took bravery to be confident about your approach to a situation and go for it.

The others were already packing their stuff to leave.

“Hey, everyone.” Maggie called as I drew nearer. “I was wondering if we could all celebrate our first day at Glitz. Troop over to one of the pubs down the street and make a toast.”

“We already have plans.” Perfect Intern Girl had been the first to answer, gesturing between herself and Perfect Intern Boy.

“If it’s so important to you,” Perfect Intern Boy remarked as he moved away with the former, “They have Skype for that now. We could toast over our little get-together at La Chaumiere.” He nodded affirmatively at our shocked expressions. “We do not suppose they have any rosé over at the ‘pub down the street’.” And with that they were off leaving the two of us exchanging looks and wondering if a director would pop out of nowhere and yell ‘cut’ to the sequel to Mean Girls we hadn’t been aware we’d been casted for. But no, Mean Girls Two was already such an eyesore to behold.

“I guess it’s you and I then.” Maggie threw me a wan smile.

“Sorry.” I smiled, placating. “I also have plans.” I really did actually.

She looked forlorn for a split second. “So I guess it’s only me then. Solo rocks. Doesn’t it? I would be just fine.”

“I’m so sorry,”        

“Kobby,” She spun. “Really. Quit with the sorries.” She sternly advised with the warmest smile before turning to walk away in her black suit glory.

I was done packing my stuff. I cast one long glance at the Advertising wing again, privileged to be up-close to their creativity. Then I forced myself to tear my gaze away and walked off proudly, somewhat satisfied at the outcome of my first day at Glitz! I had my own demons to attend to.

An internship was supposed to build you up for a job. Equip you with the right skills to doing a job right. And in every learning environment mistakes were bound to happen. Mistakes meant to teach us new ways of learning things, adapting to things. So why would I let a mistake that happened two years ago haunt my life forever?

This is the story of how I’d made a chicken of myself at Chicken Inn. I had placed the order for Fries. I hadn’t known there were table numbers or anything like annoying ‘ringers’. I sat on the table the girl over the counter had advised me to, waiting for my order. I was wondering why they were keeping so long right about the time the square thingy—till this day I didn’t know whateverdafuck it was called—began ringing like a fire alarm. I had ducked into my seat feeling embarrassed this ringing thing was drawing attention to me (Of all the dozens of people in the restaurant, why me!). It wasn’t long before the girl over the counter had been yelling descriptions of my outfit screaming at me to come get my order. I freaked at the shame I’d gone through just because I wanted to get some fries. I had been running out the door before I could stop myself. But of course, I hadn’t failed to hear the young teenage couple by the door mutter, “What a chicken.” Words that had haunted me for two years and kept me towing the line in order not to make any mistakes.

But not anymore, I thought to myself as I walked out of Chicken Inn that afternoon with the bag of fries successfully in my hand and disappointingly noticing the girl at the counter was a different one as I breezed through the process.

I felt less tense around the shoulder region, like I’d been helped off after being stuck attempting to push up 80kg weight at a gym. If this was how it felt after chasing your demons away, I could do this every day. Square thingy! Red alert clanging bells! “What a chicken!”—Yikes! I really was only joking demons.

I would go home and actually Skype Maggie to celebrate my first day at work with a bottle of something cheap yet sparkly. Fuck the red clanging bells and the square thingy.

“I had a successful day!” I yelled upon returning home.

Isaac snorted. My mum told me I should go screw myself. My dad told her they could go do some screwing themselves. Only Grannie-Grandma cheered. But I’d later realize it was for the fries she rushed to turn up the volume to Florence and the Machine’s Ship To Wreck. The two of us danced the afternoon away, bouncing on sofas and yelling at the others to go suck it.

(“Your mum is!” My dad shouted from his matrimonial room).

Of course, I had no idea back at Glitz, Winfred would walk into his office, pick up the assignments we presented and scan through. He would look unimpressed as he flicked through the assignments, but the last of them would grab his attention. His gaze would hover at top of the sheet, and he would see my name written up in bold letters: KOBBY.

“Fucking interns.” He’d mutter then pass my paper through the shredder.

My assignment was short-lived. But not my excitement.


Author's Note: Whew! First episode off to a good start. I do hope you visit this blog every Saturday to read episodes of my newly true-life inspired series everytime. Thank you.

READ NEXT EPISODE: Horrible Editors.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Do leave a comment. Thanks for reading the blog