Monday, 6 July 2015

Fucking Interns: Dark Horses for Dummies (episode 4)



DAY 30
13.45 hrs.

This was not supposed to happen today. Anything could have happened but this. Crying out loud, it was supposed to be my birthday! Bad things didn’t happen on your birthday, did they? Or even if they did, not of this magnitude!

“Kobby, we have been reviewing your file.” The bulky man sitting on his office desk surrounded by two other bulky people who looked overfed and privileged to be holding their positions whilst we below the pecking order were getting scrawny by the day, spoke. “And also the file of the other interns in your department…”

I sat straight in the couch they’d showed me to, my knees rubbing the glass table with a vase of garish colours bearing some flowers that were surprisingly plastic despite aesthetic standards the magazine was supposed to be setting. I felt sick to my stomach as I looked down at the opened file beside the vase. My open file. I’d earlier learnt the file was supposed to record all the works I had accomplished as an intern. Sort of like the cumulative reports we held back in Junior High. Only this time my cumulative report was empty, staring back at me with mockery.

“As you can see,” The man went on, “you have done nothing for the company. Unlike some other private institutions in the country, we thrive on productivity…”

I could tell the words he was letting out from deep within his bulging belly were impersonal. They’d been said over time to other unproductive interns like myself who had walked into this office staring at their empty file. Yet for some reason, they still retained their flourish. All those days I had been drudging here;  standing in long queues to get coffee for everyone, running the Perfect Interns’ errands (flagging down taxis, confirming salon appointments, getting on all fours to locate missing earrings). They had to be somewhere in this file!  Why couldn’t I be treated with exception? Why did I have to be categorised in the league of other interns who had empty files. The rage starting out in my chest was so overpowering I wanted to retch. Gosh, if he didn’t stop this minute, I could hurl the vase at him! I could hurl it at him so hard they might just have to give me a security escort out of the building.

“Kobby, we have to let you go. Your time at Glitz is over. Go pack out.”

He just had to go on talking! I couldn't take it anymore. I let loose…

DAY 30
7.15 hrs.

I rolled out of bed with my head pounding. Today was my twentieth. Why couldn’t I get a good sleep on my twentieth? Isaac, my brother two years older than me, had been drumming all through the night. He’d been at it in the soft hours, banging bass drums, clashing cymbals, braving fills actual rock and roll drummers mindfully executed in timely intervals. And no one in the house was complaining, because he was supposed to be following his newly-realized-dream of playing for Cold Play... or just drumming for any band that would be (foolish enough) to include him in their act.

Even though occasionally we’d be shooting up from our beds deep into the night, braving a confrontation, we would throw back the covers convincing ourselves he could be doing worse (like pursuing his dreams to become a Texas Ranger).

“Hey, Kobs.” My dad smiled as I neared the dining table. At least, there was a son he wasn’t seething to kill. “Work day, today?”

“Yes.” I nodded taking my seat on the dining table. The sounds of clashing cymbals sent my gaze in the direction of Isaac’s empty seat. I turned to mum,  “No luck trying to pry him away from his new toy?”

She looked worse for the wear. There were bags under her eyes and her face didn’t have that lustre it did every morning she woke up relating to us details of my dad’s very good TLC throughout the night. At least, I could walk out today without being haunted by memories of my dad ‘having my mum’ on her dresser. “It’s insane, Kobby. And I am this close to smothering him with a pillow in his sleep…” She paused after a thought. “That is, if he ever sleeps. I can't look him in the eye and tell him he should quit being a little drummer boy and go find himself an internship like you have done. God, the kids of this generation, you really have it well. My mum would have drummed it in his head he wasn’t ever going to be a drummer… with his drumsticks.”

“Not true.” My grandmother glared at her over her plate of salad.

“Is true.”

“Not true.”

“Is true.”

My dad and I shared a look. I raised my mug of tea to my lips. So no one would be remembering it was my birthday then.

DAY 30
9.30 hrs.

With my eyes fixed onto my watch, I balanced all four coffees precariously on the tray as I quickened my pace with every second. Day thirty and I was still doing the coffee runs. One would have thought I would be learning anything to do with copy editing. At this rate, I could list my CV on craiglist and would be snapped up by Eddie's in a matter of seconds. After all, with how efficient I’d become with coffee runs, pizza delivery wouldn't be too bad a career choice.

“Hey,” I smiled at the bum who hanged around the Glitz building. She was standing on the sidewalk, chest out, feet wide apart, hands fisted on her hips, looking up at the skyscraper that was my workplace. “Hey?” I called curiously, raising a questioning brow at her pose.  For a hobo living the streets she did have the confidence of a business mogul. For a second I wondered if she was walking in to the building to snap up a position that was rightfully hers. But then I stared at her shabby clothing ripped apart in some areas by a fiery iron,  her blackened face that looked as though she walked through a car explosion every morning, and decided against it. Simply put, if this bum was getting a job at Glitz then I was Nikki Minaj.

“Kobby.” She smiled, still with her eyes fixed on the building. “I know you are wondering why I am standing up like someone was repeatedly sticking something up my butt.”

“I am mildly curious.” I said good-humouredly.

“It’s the superhero pose.”

“Oh?”

“And I watched from one episode of Grey’s Anatomy, people who stood this way for a few minutes were going to be conquerors or something like that.”

“You watch Grey’s Anatomy?” She could have told me she ate three square meals a day and I wouldn't have been that shocked.

“Sometimes.” She said nonchalantly, making it seem like it was no big deal. Like she even got her nails done everyday—no biggie, no biggie. “So are you going to join me or are you…”

I couldn’t help the laughter that was rumbling from my belly up. I stood beside her mockingly, imitating her pose. Oh, when was the last time I sat to watch an episode of Grey’s Anatomy? I thought. This job was creating a dent in my TV-viewing life.

“It’s a good day.” I heard the bum mummer to herself. “A good day to save lives.”

I broke into convulsions of laughter as I rode up the elevator. Each and every day this bum made my day with something outrageous. I had grown a soft spot for her owing to this. It was nice that even though I was having a shitty day at the office, she could cheer me up without intending to.

The elevator bell chimed and its doors sprang open to display the Intern Floor. I stepped out and before I could make an attempt to walk to the copy department, someone brushed past me knocking her shoulder hard against mine. I spun to the offender who was frantically jabbing at the elevator buttons all the while balancing a box of manila files. I recognized her. She was the intern who’d been doing coffee runs for the Advertising and Marketing department. We butt interns knew each other. But I couldn’t recall her name.

“Oh what are you looking at!” She yelled in my direction upon noticing me. Her gaze of disdain run down my body and traced its way back to the coffee I held. “You are one of us, aren’t you?” It was more of a statement than a question. You could see the snicker dancing in her red-rimmed eyes. “They are taking us out." Her voice was low and chilly. "All of us.”

I was seconds away from demanding an explanation till the elevator doors shut close. I turned to the floor in puzzlement, wondering what she might have meant. They are taking us out, who were? The floor was no longer a joyous hubbub of undergrads happy to be learning something new. Everyone occupied their cubicles wearing gloomy expressions, I couldn’t help noticing as I walked to mine.

A crackling sound interrupted the heavy silence. Then a disembodied voice boomed from a P.A system I couldn't locate. “Henry Quartey from the IT department, could you please come to the fifth floor…”

“… the receptionists would help you locate us.” Maggie from my department mouthed mockingly in the way someone who'd heard the words over time would. “Hi.” She smiled upon noticing me, taking her coffee from the bunch and winking in appreciation.

The other two interns, I referred to as Perfect Interns, didn’t bother acknowledging my presence as they were too busy engaging in excited chatter. They seemed like the only interns who looked anything other than gloomy. This was surprisingly a nice change, it gave me some sense of calm.

“Maggie, what’s happening?” I asked casually as I settled the coffees on the others' cubicles.

“It’s HR, they are undergoing a monthly assessment of our works as interns—nothing to worry about, they said.” I picked up conciliatory tones in her speech.

“Maggie’s leaving out the best part, Kobby.” Perfect Intern Girl who’d been listening in on our conversation disrupted her chat with Perfect Intern Boy, a smirk on her equally perfect face.  “They are letting the redundant ones go.”

I gave a nervous laugh. “That all?” I tried to hide the anxiety in my voice as I plopped into my own cubicle. “No big deal, huh?” I looked to Perfect Intern Boy. “I mean, none of us are redundant, are we? Haha.”

“You are.” Perfect Intern Boy deadpanned. “Kobby, take a look around. This might be the last time you’d be seeing us all.” A cheeky laugh escaped his lips as he lifted his coffee to them. “This might be a good day to save your job.”

Best. Birthday. Surprise. Ever.
10.30 hrs

I couldn’t sit on my cubicle and do nothing. (But really, what to do? I was being let off. I was redundant. HR hired me. Now they were letting me go.) But I couldn’t stand Perfect Intern Boy and Girl discussing his Balenciaga manbag like it was all right with the world. Maggie was avoiding my eyes, but she was good to offer a kind smile when our eyes met accidentally.

“Taylor, I’m telling you, this is it.” I balanced my phone on my ear as I took Winfred’s coffee to him. Earlier, he’d sent in an email saying he was discussing something important with other editors so I couldn’t just barge into his office in the name of giving him his own coffee he’d sent me to pick up. I jabbed at a button on the elevator. “They are putting me out to pasture like an old mare. It’s not as if this old mare did anything good during her younger years.”

“Kobby, you are fine. We are fine.”

I was calmed by the words of a friend who was also another butt intern. It was always good to speak to someone who understood what I was going through. If Maggie had said those words they’d have felt as rehearsed as one coming from a doctor consoling a dying patient. You weren’t the one dying, how could you tell someone it was all fine? “We are fine.” I said sotto voce, taking in deep breaths to regain some sort of calm. “Anyway, I’m heading for Winfred’s. Perhaps he could help?”

“He could.” Her response was like fuel thrown onto my rapidly-burning out match of hopeWoof! Things were surely going to get better, I was highly comforted. “Just hang in there, OK. If I wasn’t at this photoshoot, I’d be there with you.”

The prickly sensation on my skin atrophied, replaced by the sense of calm I'd been trying so hard to summon. Taylor in the fashion department had this effect on me. It just felt right to disclose things I wouldn't have to someone I had met a couple of weeks ago. “It’s my birthday today.”

“Really?” Her excitement on the other end was palpable. “What are you, like, two?”

I grinned at her joke. “Two-zero, Taylor. Anyway, I’m almost at Winfred’s I have to go.” I pressed the disconnect button and stepped out the elevator into the Editor’s floor. Winding through corridors, passing offices and PA suites, I got to my boss’ door. I was about to knock when it swung open revealing two men laughing at something funny my boss might have said.

“Kobby,” Winfred’s smile turned dead upon recognizing me as he shut his door behind him. You could have sworn he'd rather die than allow an intern see him smile.  “Oh, the coffee.” He looked down at my hands. “You deserve it, I’m lunching out today and I am not in the mood for—“

“Actually I need to speak to you. It’s not just coffee.”

My boss not used to being interrupted by anyone who was an intern glared at me. “I also need you on an urgent errand," he offered me a flash drive. “There’s an article on it named ‘lumbersexual’, go print it out for me and leave it on my desk. I’m not sure I would be in when you get here.” He stared closely at me, noticing my impatience from how frequently I attacked an invisible rash on parts of my neck. “Two minutes.” He said to me, then told the gentlemen they could take the lead he’d be right behind them.

“I am about to be fired.” I spoke before Winfred could settle in his seat.

“By who?” He looked truthfully surprised.

“HR.”

“Oh. What’s today?”

I nodded gravely to show today was THAT day. “I was hoping you could do something for me. I mean, I know I’ve just been only good for coffee runs. But you are taking me through this journalism course before you teach anything about copy-editing, you said.” I pointedly reminded him in a way, I hoped, didn't come off as rude.

“Relax.” He rolled his eyes indignantly. “You are OK.”

“Really, am I?”

“No.” he confided. “You are not OK.” He went on to explain. “HR asked for everybody’s file. All the other interns had articles they’d edited—proofread was more like it, do you guys have any experience at all? If I had my way, I would kick you all out. But HR has a more binding decision. Kobby, I’m sorry, I can’t help. You had nothing in your file.”

My head began pounding at his words--Woof! the flame of hope died out. “Is there anything I could do?” I implored, hoping he didn't see the tears that flooded my lids. “Anything I could do just now? Something, please.”

“Relax, Kobby.” Winfred stood up from his seat. “There’s nothing you can do. And crying out loud, do not weep in front of me!”

I choked on a sob. “I won’t. It’s just…” Could I tell him how bad I wanted to succeed? Could I tell him only weeks ago I had seen Claudia Sharpe, editor-in-chief of Glitz and I said to myself I’d want to have her job one day? I swallowed the bitterness in my throat. God, I could so do with opening the floodgates now.

“Hey, you’d sit through the meeting. They’d fire you. And it would be over. It would be quick. You’d pack out of here and never look back. You did all you could. But at the end of the day, HR has to let someone go. It’s a monthly exercise and someone has to go.” His words bore a finality that made my heart wrench. “So in the meantime, run the last errands you can for me. And Kobby,” he called before I could walk out of his office, “just so you know, any amount of training from me couldn’t have made you a copy editor. Oh, and I’m sorry this is all happening on your birthday.”

Happy Birthday to me, I guess.
11.15 hrs

Winfred was right. I mean, why did I have to stress about something that was inevitable anyway? My situation was synonymous to death, wasn’t it? However I looked at it, whether I hollered at the higher deities or embraced it, either way it would catch up with me. So why not embrace it after all?

I’d started my quest to embrace it by writing notes to all my colleagues, passing them under their keyboards when they went out to urinate (Maggie) or looked away from their PCs to obsess about their manbags.

When Maggie read her goodbye note from me, she pretended she hadn’t seen it at all. She had turned, chatting as though I’d just written on the sheet of paper that I was going on a YOLO trip to Ibiza. (Hmm… a YOLO trip might not be so bad). The Perfect Interns read theirs and told me they’d miss getting their coffees. At least, they weren’t in denial.
Speaking of denial (or could it be acceptance?), I was going through a kind of my own. I was writing up a list of things I’d do when I was laid off. A pretty extensive list half of which consisted TV shows I’d missed out on—including Grey’s Anatomy. All the while, ignoring the interns that were flitting in and out of the hall, packing up and heading towards the elevator in a file or rushing out to the call from HR. If I didn't see them, they wouldn't exist, would they?  Until…

Aargh!”

A blood-curdling scream made my head shoot out from my hiding place behind the monitor. There, right in the middle of the intern floor was a girl I recognized as a beauty errand intern tossing her Notebook computer on the floor and stamping on it with her furious heel, all the while screaming and scaring everyone with her throaty yells.

“Aargh! Aargh! Aargh!” She tossed another intern’s monitor off her cubicle, then with a sweep of her arms scattered that of a few other interns’ in her department. The whole scene was as frightening as watching a livid villain who’d let her target slip through her hands, knowing if you intervened she might pull you into her lap and give you a good arse-whopping. “Fuck y’all!” She yelled into the air, who in particular I didn’t know, but I pretty much guessed she meant all of us staring at her agape. “They are getting us all! They are throwing us out! And soon,” her jabbing finger coincidentally pointed at me, “they’d come for you! You all!” Then she carried up her stuff and was off.

The murmuring in the hall escalated. Everyone’s lips were moving in endless gossip. All over the room fear was spelt on particular interns’ faces in specific departments. In the copy department, it was I who turned scared. Suddenly, I felt a roaring fire swallowing up my behind, I felt like running somewhere. Anywhere. I couldn’t stay here.

Oh my God! This was really happening to me! It was clear only the butt interns were being called. Those who had empty files like mine. I was losing my job. I hunched onto my cubicle. I’m going to cry. I’m going to cry. I’m going to cry. Hot tears pressed against my lids. I was going to lose my job and I could do nothing about it!

I do not want to watch Grey’s Anatomy! Which was more bearable than the Real Housewives of Orange County and Andy Cohen! I do not want to go on a YOLO trip to Iguazu! Or is it Ibiza? God, if only I could see through my misty eyes and read my sodding list! I immediately shot up from my seat. I needed to be somewhere. Anywhere Maggie and the Perfect Interns weren’t staring pathetically. I shoved my hands into my pockets as I quickened my step out of the Intern Floor and felt Winfred’s flash drive.

His assignment! I had totally forgotten about it. Since I had nowhere in mind to go, I shuffled over to the printers and the photocopiers. I ignored their standard question of asking if this article I had to print out was so important I would be willing to harm the environment. Sod being eco-aware, I thought as I watched the article slid through the printer, I was dying here, I was losing my job, I cared about the environment as much as the British cared about their teeth. That established, maybe I could go burn some dangerous gases into the ozone, put flames into the pile of Playboy magazines (with an issue of Business and Financial Times on top) my dad had branded 'To be Recycled' to keep a habit hidden from my mum. Anything to make me feel better. I snatched the paper from the printer and stared closely at it.

I had priorities. Winfred first, then I could worry about losing my job. I had my job now. And I had to do it. My determination to put away my brief episode of a nervous breakdown surprised me. What stage of grief this was, I didn’t know.

On my way to Winfred’s, I couldn’t help but distract myself with reading the piece. Either that or plunging myself through the expansive floor-to-ceiling windows that lined the Editor's floor. I had envisaged crashing into the rooftop of a car with shards of glass icing my dead body. It wasn't a shock reading was more alluring than the prospect of ending my life—I’d rather finish a book, thanks very much! (Sadly, I couldn't say the same for many Africans—"I’d rather book a casket, thanks very much!").

It was an article on ‘who the hell is a lumbersexual?’. I was slightly intrigued reading all about the origin of the term—New York, and who a lumbersexual was—the lovechild of a metrosexual and a hipster. But most importantly, I was entranced by the beauty of the article; its points were presented in an order that was both chaotic and artistic. Could this be the job of the copy editor, or it had resulted from the excellent manipulations of the writer? It hurt that I would never find out because I was being laid off...

Not if I had anything to do with it!

Then I was running. I was running so fast, I bumped into lots of people who yelled at the gush of wind I’d left in my wake. I was running for Winfred’s office. Because in there, could be the solution to saving my job.

12.30 hrs.

I sat on Winfred’s desk, I logged into his computer—passwordless, how could he? Rummaged through loads of files for the article.

Winfred was so wrong. I couldn’t sit still and wait to be given the boot. I shouldn’t. If I could do something for my empty file, shouldn’t I? I thought as my gaze traced down the list of alphabetically arranged files in ‘My Documents’. Then my eyes settled on it, peering closer like a predator would its prey. Oh, I was such a paedo-file! I clicked it and scanned through its contents.

Oh Winfred had done an amazing job! The original was shit, really. I wasn’t even a copy editor and I could tell there was no way I’d send this into print if I was the editor in chief of a publication. I immediately copied the assignment onto the flash drive, then logged out of the PC.

Winfred wouldn’t find out that I had claimed ownership to his intellectual property, would he? I was going to put this article in my file. I was going to stand tall in front of HR and explain to them the processes I’d gone through to scale the original into the perfection I had in my hands. I let myself out of  the office quietly as though Winfred would pounce on me any moment.

I could turn this all around and make it my best birthday yet.

12.45 hrs.

Oh, whoever created a guilty conscience knew exactly what they were doing! Because I was attacking itches on several places on my body which—let’s face it—weren’t present at all. Within the timeframe of a quarter of an hour, I’d ran over to the elevator, then back in my seat three times. Did I have to go to Winfred’s office and place everything back onto his computer pretending all this never happened in the first place? Oh, why couldn't I stop feeling guilty for no charge at all... not yet, at least.

Maggie and Perfect Interns were staring at me curiously. They were probably wondering if waiting to be laid off was causing a form of lunacy. I immediately relaxed. I told myself if I didn’t want to be caught guilty, I didn’t have to look guilty. I distracted myself by going through the article. Both the original and the edited version. Winfred’s edited version, it struck me, Winfred’s edited version.

I suddenly felt an overpowering urge to throw up. Oh my God, what if there was a dent in my plan! What if I’d forgotten something that would lead to my apprehension?
I was being silly, I yelled at myself. I wouldn’t get caught. I needed to distract myself with something before I drove myself mad. Or drove myself to drink—which was considerably worse!

Now I didn’t know what I was doing. All I knew was I was comparing Winfred’s article to the original one. Then the next second, I was making notes about their differences. Then the next, I was editing—was I?—the original article my own way. I could rely on Winfred's inspiration and carve out my own. Of course, I wouldn’t use mine for anything. I was just keeping busy in order not to punch myself in the face till I bled.  

Hmm… I gazed at my edited version on my Notebook's screen. I didn’t know if I was pleased or I was terrified. (Both probably.) But maybe I was onto something here? And perhaps if I run to the printers and requested a hardcopy my article might look better in print than it did digitally.

I was laughing as I returned to my desk,  holding the piece in hand, laughing so hard a few pairs of eyes from other departments were glaring at me to keep it down—Oh, sod it! Are you more terrified than I am? I am a lamb awaiting my slaughter for crying out loud!  My article—the one I’d edited was shit. A child would wince if he stuck it playfully in his mouth. To think I’d been imagining I had been on to something!  Maggie and the Perfect Interns really did look worried now as I was hunched over my cubicle, my shoulders shaking with mirth.

“Kobby Gyampoh you are needed at our offices…” The disembodied voice from the P. A system boomed.

That was it. I was laughing so loud everyone was staring and probably wondering if I was rehearsing my role as the Joker or any villain who had my shrilly, snapping laughter.

“Kobby?” Perfect Intern Girl called out my name, it was the first time I’d heard her tone depicting anything other than scorn. “I think you are being summoned.”

“OH DON’T YOU THINK I KNOW!” I instantly turned at her that she shot out of her seat in fright. Then I began guffawing at how ridiculous she looked, like I was going to pounce on her and gnaw at her neck something. “Sorry.” I found myself saying, steadying my laughter. 

“It’s just... I too know my name, don’t you think?” I took a few steps back and turned towards the elevator.

To hell with the people from HR, I had more important things to see to. I rode the elevator up to Winfred’s office and dropped a copy of his article on it. I walked to the bathroom to pee, because that’s what I felt like I should do and HR could go screw themselves.

It began as a tentative laugh as I washed my hands in the bathroom sink. Then before I knew it, I was locking up myself in the bathroom and crying. Real, proper tears. Was I stealing Winfred’s article? Was I going to lose my job? Let’s face it, whatever happened I was going to be given the axe. That I was certain of. Winfred’s article might buy me some time but it wouldn’t stop me from being laid off. The pressure of it all began weighing down on me and I took out my phone. I just needed to speak to someone.

“Mum,” I yelled into the phone, leaning over the sink. “I think I’m about to lose the job of my dreams!”

“You think?” The smidgeon of concern was lost as she snorted and decided to make light of the whole situation. “At least, there’s someone who knows to stop dreaming.”

I broke into laughter, thinking of my older drummer boy back at home. What was I? A blubbering mess? How many times had I switched from laughter to screaming bloody murder in tears? “Today was my birthday!” There I went crying again. Was someone at a control unit somewhere playing some kind of dumsor-dumsor game with my emotions? “And you all flipping forgot! I was expecting a surprise. Or even just a ‘happy birthday’ would have cheered me up. How come Isaac got drums on his, and I had, what, nothing?”

My mum was quiet for a while. Perhaps she was waiting for an end to my torrential rant? “Look, how old are you?” Something between an answer and a sob escaped my lips. “You are twenty. A grown-ass man! And you are crying on the phone like you soiled your nappies.” Her voice had taken on its default no-nonsense pitch I was so used to. “You’d walk to wherever you have to lose your job this minute and impress them to get you to keep it. Criers are quitters. And no son of mine is going to be a quitter, do you hear me?” I nodded. “Do you hear me?” I nodded. “Kobby, I want to believe you are nodding. Because that’s all I can do to prevent myself from coming there to kick your butt... after changing your nappies.

“I am nodding.”

“Great.”

She was silent for minutes as though waiting for her advice to sink in. It sunk in. I would go to HR and impress them in order to keep my job. If I had to present Winfred’s article, I would. If I had to use words I, would. I just had to keep my job.

“I have to go.” The determination in my voice was surprising.

Wait! You are twenty, did you say?! My youngest son is a grown-ass man! Yes he is, I was seconds away from replying. “Oh christ! Then, my eldest son might be more than twenty! Shouldn't he? I could kick my eldest son out of my house! He could stop drumming at night! Here's to me and years of sound sleep!

An image of Isaac in briefs with his cymbals and drumsticks being tossed at him came to mind. “That would be the best birthday gift ever, mom.” But she was off the phone.
I twisted the door knob of the bathroom and headed for the HR Floor. On the ride up, I only realized I was doing the superhero pose when I had to break out of it to face my future.

13. 40 hrs.

A low pain had begun throbbing at the back of my skull as I sat on the couch facing the three people who were droning on about how unproductive I was.

I couldn’t believe how stupid I was. There had been a dent in my plan and I’d never realized it. I had sauntered in, all relaxed and radiating charm I never knew I possessed, about to demonstrate to these people how I scaled down the original article into Winfred’s edited version. But mid-journey towards their table, I found myself staring at the my version—the version I’d ‘edited’ that looked like crap. How did that materialize into my hands? I had to have made another copy of Winfred’s article!

I had opted to pee when I realized this mistake, but the members of the Firing Squad told me they had an in-office bathroom I was allowed to use only if I flushed afterwards.

"What if I didn't flush?" I had wanted to know.

"No bother, we'd be firing you anyway."

I was brought to reality by a thump on a desk. 

“Kobby, we have to let you go. Your time at Glitz is over. Go pack out.”

I stared at the flower vase on the desk, very tempted to hurl it at all three of them somehow. Was it possible to hit all three? I looked up at them. I shouldn’t lose my job without a fight, should I?

“A month ago I was brought here.” I began tentatively, looking at the ceiling for inspiration. 

“I began here with hope of making it as copy writer. But some reason, you guys employed me as a copy editor.”

“We make no mistakes, Kobby.”

“That’s the thing!” My voice rose airily. “You made the biggest mistake! I knew nothing about copy-editing and you put me in this programme. Me, the failure destined to happen. And now you are here to get your job back after the hell I’ve been put through, running errands for my supervisor and busting my arse to get my head around journalism so I could begin to copy-edit—“

“Kobby, we suggest you make no fuss and leave this minute.” Bulky Woman on the side of Bulky Middle Man spoke for the first time. It was obvious she’d been scripted and had to say her lines during exceptional moments such as these. Just as Bulky Man to the right of Bulky Middle Man was only allowed to nod.

I sat quiet for a while, staring down at my feet which had suddenly become interesting. After exhausting what was to look at on my newly-interesting toes, I took in a deep breath. “Thanks for the opportunity though.” All the fight had left me. It was over. I just had to leave with the dignity I had left.

“Kobby?” Bulky Guy called as I twisted the door knob. “We saw your employee file. Happy Birthday.”

I stared at him for seconds with a dead expression and walked out. It was amazing how fast the elevator ride could get when you were not in any haste to get out of it. I lugubriously walked into the Intern Floor. It was one of those moments you weren’t looking up but were sure everyone’s eyes were on you.

“I packed your stuff.” Maggie said, holding up a box she’d put up loads of books that were not mine but Winfred’s guides to journalism. The books he’d made me pull all-nighters to study in a matter of five days. I did with four, just to impress him. But here I was, being fired. What a waste.

I braved a smile. “They are not mine. They are Winfred’s, but thanks anyway.”

“You want me to send it up to him? I could do that for you?”

“Nah.” I waved her request dismissively, picking the box from her. “It’s fine.” My gaze fell over her shoulder. “It was a pleasure working with you.” I said sincerely to the Perfect Interns, then spun for the elevator.

I halted only a few feet away from Maggie, to take the Intern Floor in. I would miss this place. I would miss the buzz of excitement this hall was laden with. I would miss looking over at Advertising and Marketing wishing I was part of their team.

That moment I was treated to an out-of-body experience, watching myself run out of the elevator, rushing in to give the Perfect Interns their coffee and running back to for Winfred’s floor so I could give him his. I sighed exasperatingly. That I wouldn’t miss.

This was the time I walked and never return. I had to go. The elevator ahead, as though sensing my exit was opening and then shutting—of course, I didn’t see the people streaming in and out of it. All I saw was this almost-blinding light at the end of the Hall, calling out to me. My time at Glitz was over and I had to leave.

They’d fire you, Winfred’s talk replayed in my head as I was being drawn to the light, and it would be over. It would be quick. You’d pack out of here and never look back. You did all you could. But at the end of the day, HR has to let someone go. It’s a monthly exercise and someone has to go. I had to go.

“Kobby?”

Winfred’s voice yanked me back to reality. It was only then I realized I hadn’t been walking anywhere. I was rooted at a point. Wow. I’d heard weird superstitious stories of pallbearers getting stuck on their way to the cemetery, the coffin frozen in the air, the dead body clinging to the short time it had above the earth. You only believed something was a superstition till it happened to you.

“My books.” Winfred pulled the box out of my hands. He looked up at me with his most withering stare. “You are leaving already, aren’t you?”

I nodded with a smile. There was no need to stretch this into one painful departure. I was fired, the earlier I got to terms with it and made a peaceful exit…

“What?!” I stared at Winfred in shock, my heart hammering against my chest. Was he speaking through his arse or what?

“Why are you surprised? You planned this all, didn’t you?” He threw me a pointed stare. “You put an article on my desk that wasn’t mine. I took it up to Claudia Sharpe without glancing at it. She sent a word to HR telling them they’d be fools to fire you.” He shrugged casually, fishing into his pocket jeans. He pulled out a paper.

Wait. What was he saying? My mentor, editor in chief of Glitz had sent me a note? I quickly unfolded the crimps of the sheet, my fingers shaking as I spread it out before me. In her lucid, gothic hand, I saw the words:
You, My Dear,  Are A Dark Horse.

“Dark horse?”

Winfred rolled his eyes at me. “You are keeping your job, Kobby.”

The words sunk. I was so transfixed I was lost for words. I kept flicking my gaze between Winfred and the sheet of paper wishing he'd tell me this was all some joke.

“Oh, and Justin,” He barked over my shoulder. “I like your man-bag. You have any idea the number of coffees and breakfast treats that would fit in there?” He turned to me, and covered the little space between us. “I liked your article,” He whispered gravely, “but the next time you let New York become New Fork, I’d send you packing before HR gets to you.” Then he was off, not before adding over his shoulder, “Oh, Claudia said I should extend her wishes, Happy Birthday.”

14.30 hrs.

“According to Word Web,” Maggie spoke. “a dark horse is a race horse about which little is known.” She paused, thumbing through her phone. “Oxford adds that no one experts this racehorse to win, but it does.”

The floor was cleared. All the interns were away except for Maggie and I. My gaze swept from cubicle to cubicle, still in awe. I might be the only butt intern that survived the cut, I thought bewildered. I almost got fired. If this isn’t what resurrection feels like then I do not know. I was too surprised to leave just yet.

“Kobby, you did out of the ordinary today.” Maggie continued to speak. “You are a kick-arse copy intern. You took your chances, you believed in your craft. You walked into HR and came out unscathed.”

Now that was going too far, “I wouldn’t say that.” I interrupted her flow. If only she knew how low I’d sunk. If only she knew I had been contemplating on stealing Winfred’s work. If only she knew I never believed in my craft.

“That I do not want to hear.” She moved closer to my cubicle and leaned on it. “The Perfect Interns have invited me out for a late lunch at ‘La Chaumiere’—their treat. And their offer, I suspect, is only on, if I get to convince you to join us. We are going to sit with the Perfect Interns, we are going to lunch French-style, they are going to be all over you. You are not going to be modest. You are a dark horse, Kobby. Claudia-frigging-Sharpe called you a dark horse.”

“Just a few minutes please.”

We sat through a companionable silence for minutes. I looked around idly.

“They should be pissed off by now, shouldn’t they?” I asked jokily. “The Perfect Interns, they should be pissed off I am keeping them waiting?”

“You bet.”

Maggie and I were riding down the elevator. The Perfect Interns met us on the Ground Floor. They came closer. They actually came closer, and joined us walk to the exit. These were the people who’d promise their demise if they were caught coming out of the same bathrooms as us.

“Kobby,” Perfect Intern Boy spoke as we poured into the street. “Tell us how this all 
happened.”

“The superhero pose worked.” I said too loudly. He stared at me in confusion till I brushed past him and headed for the bum by the building. “The superhero pose, it worked.”

She snorted. “At least it did for someone.” She waved her coin box—no sounds of clashing coins were heard. “All those hours hurting my chest and rib cage for nothing.”

“I guess today is your lucky day then.” I dropped a few notes into her box, grinned at her and jogged back to the Perfect Interns.

It was a great day to save my job. It was a great day to attain that job security I’d wanted since I’d walked through the doors of Glitz. No longer was I going to feel I was drowning, flailing my arms fruitlessly to keep my head above water. If Claudia Sharpe had reached out to me, I must have done something right after thirty days, hadn’t I? I was no longer going to walk into Glitz being scared to death of being kicked out of the programme by Winfred or even HR. All my twenty years on earth, I’d never felt this content. It really could be my best birthday ever.

“You know Bummy down the building?” Perfect Intern Girl asked surprisingly as I joined them.

I smiled at her coyly, shrugging with an air of insouciance. “I am a dark horse after all, aren't I?


AUTHOR'S NOTE: This post is inspired by real life events. Thanks for reading. You could catch the episode on the blog every Sunday. But mostly, if it's not in on Sunday, check back early Monday. Anyway, if you want feedback on your comments send an email to kobbytettehgyampoh@gmail.com

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