The summer following my senior year of high school, I was one of the privileged 350 students in my community to participate in an internship program at a large bank. This “once-in-a-lifetime-opportunity,” as my mother called it, afforded me the honor of fetching coffee, digging up old papers, and eating shit—tasks many canines are already quite adept at. I, however, failed to show even marginal aptitude at any of the tasks given to me. Although my high school teachers swore up and down that I would use the techniques I learned later in life, I fail to see how Advanced Placement English, and the 25-page term paper I wrote at the end of the year, will ever help me to answer phones with efficiency. Perhaps to seem more well-spoken?
If I answer a phone really, really well, will the voice on the other end of the line offer me a job? Currently, I state, “Bank of Charlotte, John Gunther’s office.” Perhaps it would be more effective if my words were phrased, “Salutations, well-cared-for customer, and welcome to Bank of Charlotte, the quintessential banking experience. You have reached the wise and benevolent John Gunther’s vocational workspace.” Following this performance, their breath would be taken away for anywhere between 3 and 5 seconds. Then, the caller would promptly reach through the telephone to shake my hand, offering me a job paying no less than $100,000 per year. Of course, I would have use of the company car. However, I would not be able to accept it. I would show loyalty to my own boss, Mr. John Gunther, “Visionary.”
After politely declining the offer, I would meekly and modestly approach Mr. Gunther with the terms of the offer. “Ha!” he will exclaim, “They think they can steal you from me?” “Yes sir,” I will reply, “They offered me a job on the spot, but I didn’t want to take it because I wished to remain part of the Bank of Charlotte family.” “Hmm,” Mr. Gunther mutters under his breath as he strokes his stylish and well-groomed goatee. “Triple your salary!” he will exclaim. “But sir, I’m just an intern,” will come my reply. I am far too classy to mention that triple of nothing is still zero. His rebuttal; “Not anymore! Bank of Charlotte is officially purchasing Columbia University, you’re too valuable an asset!” At this point, I am speechless. We shake hands, and the deal is done. I go home and make love to a lingerie model, who just so happens to be walking by my house long enough for me to seduce her with my penetrating gaze.
I will spend the rest of my long, happy life with Isabella, and we shall create many articulate and beautiful children. So as to not spoil them, I will quit my job when I turn 35 and purchase a small diner. Their friends will always come by and be treated to my daily “Good-Father-Specials.” My children will know the value of a dollar, and will all grow up to form their own companies. Meanwhile, I will retire on the royalties of my best-selling book, written on child-rearing skills.
But of course, answering phones is not my only opportunity to excel. I am talented in the ancient Japanese art of stapling papers, running memos down to other offices, dialing phone numbers while not knowing what I want, and of course, “research” on the Internet. The archaic computer entrusted to me allows me to complete one task at a time, so of course my work comes second to surfing the Internet. That’s an interesting way of putting it—”surfing” the Internet. By manipulating keystrokes and navigating through web pages, I am participating in a time-honored Hawaiian tradition. But wait, that’s not all! I can seem even cooler by renaming the “Internet” to the “web.” Wow, like a spider’s web! This must have come to be at the advent of the Internet, created by nerds, or technology officers, in order to appeal to Arachnid Hawaiians. I know that if I was an eight-legged surfer, nothing would appeal to me more than magic boxes with pretty pictures in the middle. At first I thought that doing no work, 5 days a week, 10 hours a day would get boring. Nope! I can sit down all day and make clever jokes, as well as puns. Why did the family of turtles cross the road? To get to the shell station! What did one termite say to the other? What WOOD you like to eat? What did the sanitation worker say when there was an error at the water filtration facility? H2 Uh-Oh!
Of course, my constant giggling as well as lack of work ethic arouses the ire of my co-workers. Everyone else moves as though they have some higher purpose. “I must finish this financial document! The lives of starving CEO’s in Africa depend on it!” That gives me an idea of a nice mug to give to a father, if he worked in a crappy, dead-end job—”CEO of Family.” Clever, and it makes him feel good about himself. I receive nothing but icy glares when I share my comic gold with co-workers. Perhaps I am not yet jaded enough to work in the financial industry. After fathering five children and murdering them all, I will finally be able to work as a stockbroker. Until then, I’ll stick with “Student,” a cleverly phrased euphemism for “Unemployed.”
Even my attempts at synergy are poorly received. When I suggested a bi-annual game of musical cubicles, “just to shake things up,” my boss shook his head. Even less well received was my plan of Bare-Chested Fridays, which should be very self-explanatory. Is he not capable of relating to his employees, even on that basic level? When I start my own national bank, you can be sure that shirts will be optional/forbidden. Also, you can be assured that Mr. Gunther will not be invited to MY birthday party.
Thus far, I have neglected to mention the tasks that I am superb at. Nobody is superior to me in generating waste. I go through two thick newspapers, at least 30 sheets of paper, several pens, anywhere between 4 and 9 Styrofoam cups, an apple, my lunch, and about 10 tissues a day. My talent in this area is unparalleled, even the maintenance men who empty the garbage drop by to congratulate
me. Of course, as an environmentally conscious consumer I do my best to curb waste—instead of merely discarding the Styrofoam cups, I arrange them in a village. The city of Cuptopia is rapidly growing, and has even expanded into my unknowing co-worker’s cubicle. I also spend several hours daily talking on the phone, usually with friends but sometimes with strangers. My lunch break is much longer than usual. In addition, I have become extremely skilled at finding alternate routes to get to my desk, so as to bypass my boss when I arrive late and leave early (an almost-daily occurrence). The thought of making a map and selling it to my co-workers has crossed my mind; however, just thinking of those starving CEO’s in Africa causes me to abandon my brilliant capitalist idea.
The one salient lesson I have learned from this experience is the entertainment offered by my own body. Literally, hours of fun are available at the expense of my fingernails, stomach, and shoes. Testing the maximum amount of water my body can hold became a daily contest, growing more and more exciting as my body approached the limit of my bladder’s capacity. I must test myself, for who knows when one will need accurate knowledge of the self? Self-inflicted bite marks remain on my hand for approximately 40 seconds, and a rapidly-moving pen can penetrate skin far more effectively than a staple. Of course, even these time-wasters are not as fun compared to the “Foot Olympics.” The Foot Olympics are games in which I transform my once new, shiny leather shoes into mangled masses not worthy even of the homeless. Multiple treks across the country hauling my pet bear on my shoulders could not produce the wear and tear brought about by my resourcefulness. The ultimate challenge manifests itself in the Foot Olympic games; because I cannot see my feet while they are under my desk, I must envision how they look before I may finally glance at my handiwork. This fosters my imagination and creativity as well.
I have attempted to be productive. Early on, at the beginning of the internship, my boss requested that I come into his office whenever I wasn’t feeling industrious. By the second week I had permanently camped out there, bringing a large pilgrimage from Cuptopia as well. I was seeking purpose, and they had read that the streets in Mr. Gunther’s office were paved with gold. Unfortunately we were both incorrect, Mr. Gunther has no purpose in life and his office lacks even the most basic of gold-paved roads. And so we turned back, tail between our legs, to return to the old cubicle.
But I shall float on, and continue to waste valuable company resources. Most likely, I have an entire lifetime of un-productivity ahead of me. All I have to do is coast to the point where I will have my own intern, and then I can tell him lies such as “This is a great opportunity,” and “a million people would die to be able to do this.” And the cycle of worthlessness will continue.
By Rick Lancer